Amigos is the first Santana album that doesn’t attempt to break new ground. The several styles Carlos Santana has delved into over the past decade have been consolidated into a varied, multidimensional album. The early days of happy Latin rhythms, congas and catchy vocal hooks and choruses are represented not only by the not-quite-hidden picture of the band’s first album on the cover, but also by the very first strains of “Dance Sister Dance (Baila Mi Hermana),” which opens the album. If you’re more taken by the harder, brasher rock of Abraxas and Santana, “Take Me with You” and “Let Me” will suit you better. And the dreamlike, moody intensity of Caravanserai is evoked by “Europa (Earth’s Cry Heaven’s Smile).”
Throughout, Carlos Santana’s guitar wizardry remains as impressive as ever. He constantly darts in, out and through the dense rhythm section, displaying a mastery of lean rock, hot jazz and an occasional dash of quiet beauty. Most guitarists are hard pressed to come up with a single style; Carlos Santana has at least three of which he is master.
I hesitate to call this a safe album, but in a way, that’s what it is. Amigos is Santana at its most consistent — perhaps in an effort to win back listeners disaffected by the long delay between albums. For fans, it is indispensable. For new listeners, a treat.