.
http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/6c509231d78aedeaa5eb5ec0a2364b32aa28ff1a.jpg Milagro

Santana

Milagro

CBS/Sony
Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 4 0
January 29, 1997

After releasing his first twenty-six recordings on CBS/Sony, Carlos Santana begins a new phase of his career with Milagro, one of the finest sessions he's done. The album reaffirms Santana's position as the standard-bearer for fusion music.

Santana is the most successful practitioner of fusion because he understands the style not as a souped-up rock-jazz hybrid but as an embrace of musical pantheism. Elements of salsa, pop, blues, jazz, R&B, rock, world music and reggae work their way in and out of the arrangements on Milagro, due in no small part to the smarts of coproducer Chester Thompson, whose virtuoso keyboard work shares the soloing spotlight with Santana's guitar.

Santana's vision of fusion grew out of the same creative upheavals responsible for the social and political ferment of the Sixties and early Seventies. The difference between Santana and other guitarists, such as Alvin Lee, who first came to prominence as a result of the Woodstock documentary is that Santana never stopped considering his music an outgrowth of deeply held spiritual values.

Santana sees his music as an agent for political liberation and an expression of religious mysticism. He brings these elements into focus on Milagro, invoking the power of music to "free the people" one minute and likening Jesus Christ to Martin Luther King the next. His vision of Christ as an agent for justice stands in stark contrast to the fundamentalist cant underlying most North American Christian propaganda, extends his fascination with Eastern religions and marks a return to his own roots in liberation theology, an important philosophical strain of Latin American Catholicism.

On the musical front, changing labels has proven a tonic for Santana's guitar playing. His attack is razor sharp, and his solos — on the title track, "Red Prophet," "Gypsy/Grajonca" and "We Don't Have to Wait" — rank among his best.

Milagro, which means "miracle," is dedicated to two people who died last year and who were central to Santana's life as an artist — Bill Graham, who gives the opening introduction, and Miles Davis, who plays a short, unaccompanied coda on the set-closing "A Dios." It is a worthy tribute.

prev
Album Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “American Girl”

    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

    It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com