Sunday, 24 February 2019

Santana - Milagro (1992)

Free all the people....


Released May 1992

After the refreshingly rocky Spirits Dancing In the Flesh from 1990, some have said this album is a bit more of an undistinguished "treading water" album, but it is not without its good points. Actually, it is pretty good, I have to say, being honest. It has been treated slighty unfairly. The tracks are all lengthy, and the sound quality is excellent - full and bassy. It feels as if it is somewhat run of the mill because it didn't sell well, and is not that well-known. You need to look beneath that, I think, and take it at face value.


1. Milagro
2. Somewhere In Heaven
3. Saja/Right On
4. Your Touch
5. Life Is For Living
6. Red Prophet
7. Agua Que Va Caer
8. Make Somebody Happy
9. Free All The People (South Africa)
10. Gypsy/Grajonca
11. We Don't Have To Wait
12. A Dios                                                  

After a "live" introduction, the album then continues into studio recordings. Milagro is a sumptuous, lengthy rock/Latin/jazzy rhythmic workout, featuring some nice bass, percussion and the usual impressive guitar interjections from Carlos Santana. This is certainly miles better than the synthesiser-drenched material on 1987's Freedom. The musical soundscape was changing, as the nineties progressed, thankfully. The voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. introduces Somewhere In Heaven. After such a rousing intro, it is a bit surprising that the track is a beautiful piece of ambient music and Carlos's beautiful soloing. The vocal from long-time vocalist Alex Ligertwood, is laid-back and soulful. Some seriously heavy rock riffage comes in half way through, however (the track is one second short of ten minutes).

Saja/Right On is sublime, rhythmic, seductive and captivating. It is full of a soulful feel. Carlos's guitar is seriously searing too. Great stuff. Your Touch is another appetising soully groove. The bass, percussion and guitar interplay are properly back on this album and, as I said, those accursed synthesisers are less prevalent. They return to augment the lively intro to Life Is For Living, but quite impressively, I have to say. It is an infectious number with anti-apartheid lyrics and some Xhosa backing vocals near the end. Red Prophet has a deep, bassy, funky rhythm to it, different to the fast-paced stuff that has gone before.

Agua Que Va Caer is a Latin groove with typical Spanish lyrics and a Cuban-style beat. A great guitar solo on this one. Make Somebody Happy is pleasant enough, but unfortunately repeats the same two lines ad nauseum throughout the song. It doesn't really get anywhere. Free All The People (South Africa) is a chunky, vaguely reggae-influenced number dealing with the South African situation once more. Gypsy/Grajonca is a typical Santana guitar-driven instrumental. It is in two ambient parts. We Don't Have To Wait is an upbeat, powerful rock instrumental, full of swirling guitar, organ and pounding drums. A Dios is a short vocal and guitar ending, just over a minute long. Overall, this is a better album than many say, but is probably a couple of tracks too long. It loses effect after a while.