Songs of freedom....
Released February 1987
After several rock/pop albums in the eighties, this Santana album reverted, to a certain extent, to the Latin rhythms that made the band famous, while still being very much a product of is time, featuring synthesiser backing and sometimes a laid-back, soulful R'n'B sound as well as an upbeat eighties dance feel. For me, it has more of an eighties dance feel about it than a Latin rock album, for sure.
Several old band members returned, including vocalist Buddy Miles, replacing Alex Ligertwood. The album doesn't do it for me as much as many of the others, however, seeming at times to be a bit ordinary and very much of its time (a time that wasn't great for music). I prefer its three eighties predecessors, Zebop!, Shangó and Beyond Appearances. The synthesisers have taken over too much for me on this one. Any Carlos Santana guitar work is definitely second place to those accursed keyboards.
2. She Can't Let Go
3. Once It's Gotcha
4. Love Is You
5. Songs Of Freedom
6. Deeper, Dig Deeper
9. Before We Go
10. Victim Of Circumstance
Veracruz has a fetching rhythm to it, including some killer blues harmonica, despite the eighties-style synthesiser backing. She Can't Let Go is a mid-pace, seductive groove. A sweet soul eighties ballad. Its rhythm reminds of The Christians' Forgotten Town from the same period. Once It's Gotcha is an upbeat, dance-ish funky workout, again, very much of its time. Love Is You is a very easy listening, laid-back instrumental.
Songs Of Freedom is a lively, upbeat dance-ish groove. This eighties feel is continued on Deeper, Dig Deeper, which is given crowd noises to make it sound like a live recording, although I am not sure it is. Praise is a pretty unremarkable typically 1987 piece of synth pop.
Lots of artists put out Nelson Mandela tributes in this period. Santana's Mandela is, strangely, a South American-sounding, floaty instrumental. Its Latin rhythms certainly do not invoke any South African feelings. It is probably the album's most Latin number and has distinct jazzy undertones too.
Before We Go is pleasant enough, but it doesn't stick long in the mind. Victim Of Circumstance is probably the album's most riffy, rocking track. Overall, however, while this album is harmless, pleasant and unthreatening enough, there are many, many Santana albums I return to before this one. It is the curse of the mid-late eighties. I find I don't listen to many albums from any other artists from that period either, especially long-established artists. It is generally true that their worst work comes from this era.