The Essential Santana

As great a guitarist as Carlos Santana is, his choices of songs and sidemen during the past twenty years have been questionable, at best. The evidence is in this double-disc anthology of his group's Columbia years. In the late Sixties and early Seventies, Santana cranked out one gem after another, from the scorching "Soul Sacrifice" to Tito Puente's sexy "Oye Como Va." But when the core of the Santana band began to fall apart, the guitarist turned to jazz fusion and pedestrian pop metal. Disc Two is plagued by corporate-rock drivel such as "Open Invitation" and "Nowhere to Run." For the real essential stuff, stick with Santana's first three albums — classics all.

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