Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Santana - 1968 [1997] "Live At The Fillmore"

Live at the Fillmore 1968 is a live album by Santana, recorded between December 19 and December 22, 1968 and released in 1997.

Two-CD package drawn from performances at the Fillmore West in December 1968, with an early lineup including Bob Livingston on drums and Marcus Malone on congas (both of whom would be gone by the time the group recorded their official debut in 1969). The band sound only a bit more tentative here than they would in their Woodstock-era incarnation, running through several of the highlights of their first album ("Jingo," "Persuasion," "Soul Sacrifice," and "Treat"). More interesting to collectors will be the five songs that have not previously appeared on any Santana recording, including covers of songs by jazzmen Chico Hamilton and Willie Bobo and a half-hour original jam that concludes the set, "Freeway." The sound is excellent and the arrangements a bit more improv-oriented than what ended up on the early studio records. Its appeal isn't solely limited to committed fans; on its own terms it's a fine release, highlighted by some burning organ-guitar interplay in particular. Live at the Fillmore 1968.

More than 100 minutes of unreleased live Santana from when they were just a glimmer in Bill Graham's eye! Seriously, the band's almost a full year away from their breakthrough performance at Woodstock when they performed these nine songs, five of which they never subsequently recorded. Includes the hits Jingo and Soul Sacrifice , plus notes and unseen photos. 

Had this 2 CD set, recorded just prior to the band's Columbia debut in 1968, been released in the mid-'70s, it would have been a multi-platinum certainty. Today it's an object lesson in how time can turn white-hot acts into stone cold catalog filler. Pretty cool version of "Soul Sacrifice," though.

Fans of early Santana will love this. It has great versions of Santana standards such as Jingo, Soul Sacrifice, Persuasion and Treat. It also has some rare tunes which I don't think are on other Santana albums such as Fried Neckbones, Chunk A Funk and Conquistadore. The songs are mostly lengthy jam-style tunes with plenty of improvisation. Freeway alone is 30 minutes long, but doesn't hardly seem like it. I only have a couple of complaints about this release. Soul Sacrifice is awesome as always, but actually has very little guitar soloing. Fortunately, Gregg Rolie's organ soloing makes up for it. It's still not as good as the awe-inspiring woodstock version. Second, the absence of Mike Shrieve, future Santana drummer. The drummer from these performances isn't bad, but not as great as Mike Shrieve. Petty complaints aside, this is a great CD which fans of Santana's peak era ('69 to '72) will love. Anyone who likes jam band music (early Allman Brothers, Phish) will enjoy this also. 

These are some of the earliest recordings of Santana, before they hit it big with their classic debut and the show-stopping performance at Woodstock. The band's Afro-Latin sound hasn't really gelled yet -- Mike Shrieve's absence on drums is obvious, and the lack of the Latin percussionists (just a conga player here) makes the rhythms a little less exciting. Carlos's playing shows signs of his future greatness but on some of the jams he sounds a little tentative. The live versions of tunes that would appear on the debut are much looser and the band really stretches out compared to the studio. "Jingo" and "Treat" are especially nice. I'm not sure I'd say this version of "Soul Sacrifice" is better than the one performed at Woodstock, but it's still interesting. Some of the never previously released tunes are really just jams that sometimes work ("Chunk-a-funk") and sometimes overstay their welcome (the 30 minute "Freeway Jam"). There's also a smoldering version of Albert King's "As the Years Go Passing By" and a groovy cover of Chico Hamilton's "Conquistadore Rides Again". All in all, these live recordings find Santana halfway between the 60s San Francisco sound of long, drug-soaked jams and their trademark Latin Rock. These performances must have made some very stoned kids very happy back in '68. It's not perfect, but it's fun to listen to!

Six months before recording their great debut album and 21 years before his recent world wide sucess, Carlos Santana, Gregg Rolie and band played their hearts out for four nights at the Filmore West in December of 1968.
This album is not only a great Santana album but one of the great live albums of the 60's. I often agree with the Amazon staff but their review here is way off. This CD contains 9 songs four of which would show up on the debut album and 5 were unreleased until now.
My favorite song on the CD is the totaly different version of "Treat" here than on the debut album. Gregg Rolie's piano introduction is great. It is easy to forget how magical Carlos Santana and Rolie were togeather. Of the unreleased songs "Conquistadore Rides Again" is a highpoint. Great version of "Persuasion" too.
Amazing sound for a 60's recording but Columbia Legacy always seems to do a great job. Forget the various live albums by The Doors, The Byrds, Joplin and the Airplane. This one ranks with Dylan live at The Royal Albert Hall, Hendrix and Redding at Monterey and the Stones at Madison Square Garden. That it was unreleased Until 1997 is all the more remarkable because most unreleased rock albums should stay that way. Enjoy! 

Track listing
Disc one

01   "Jingo" – (Babatunde Olatunji) – 9:38
02   "Persuasion" – (Gregg Rolie) – 7:06
03   "Treat" – (Carlos Santana, Rolie, Dave Brown) – 9:37
04   "Chunk a Funk" – (Santana, Rolie) – 5:58*
05   "Fried Neckbones" – (Willie Bobo, Melvin Lastie) – 10:10
06   "Conquistadore Rides Again" – (Chico Hamilton) – 8:40*

Disc two

01   "Soul Sacrifice" – (Santana, Rolie, Marcus Malone, Brown) – 14:30
02   "As the Years Go Passing By" – (Deadric Malone) – 7:49*
03   "Freeway" – (Santana, Rolie) – 30:15*

(The four tracks indicated with an asterisk were never released as studio tracks)
Personnel

    Carlos Santana – guitar, vocals
    Gregg Rolie – organ, piano, vocals
    David Brown – bass guitar
    Bob "Doc" Livingston – drums
    Marcus Malone – congas

2 comments:

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  2. Chiquilicuatre y ZappaJanuary 21, 2016 at 2:53 AM

    many thanks

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