Sunday, 17 February 2019

Santana - Spirits Dancing In The Flesh (1990)

It's a jungle out there....

  

Released June 1990

After the somewhat undercooked, typically eighties fare of 1987's Freedom, this was quite a welcome change for Santana - an eclectic collection of guitar-heavy rock that would please many (although probably only the band's long-term core fanbase bought it). There is still quite a disco/rock theme to many of the songs, but it is an album far more driven by guitar than synthesisers, and that, for me, can only be a good thing. It is a vast improvement on the bland banality of its predecessor.

TRACK LISTING

1. Let There Be Light/Spirits Dancing In The Flesh
2. Gypsy Woman
3. It's A Jungle Out There
4. Soweto (Africa Libre)
5. Choose
6. Peace On Earth/Mother Earth/Third Stone From The Sun
7. Full Moon
8. Who's That Lady
9. Jin-Go-Lo-Ba
10. Goodness And Mercy                          

The first track, Let There Be Light/Spirits Dancing In The Flesh begins with a pretty superfluous few minutes of choral vocals that sounds really quite pretentious, before some genuine guitar-driven Santana dance rock groove kicks in. This is actually good stuff, packed full of killer guitar and pounding rhythms. Gypsy Woman sounds as if it should be a Carlos Santana composition, but it is actually a Curtis Mayfield number. It is sumptuously seductive. Alex Ligertwood is back on vocals, and songs like this suit his voice.


It's A Jungle Out There has some solid guitar riffage on it and some infectious disco rhythms. The vocal is a great, soulful one. Soweto (Africa Libre), rather like Mandela on the previous album, does not actually have a South African vibe to it. Here, it is a gentle, breezy, laid-back back typically Santana Latin groove. It has a delicious jazzy piano and cymbals break in the middle. Compared to the last album's half-baked material, this really is more like it. Choose is a heavy thumper of a track with a very early nineties slow dance-influenced rock feel to it. There are hints of Prince in it, I think.

Peace On Earth/Mother Earth/Third Stone From The Sun begins as very much a Santana rock song in the style of their early eighties work, before it morphs into a cover of Jimi Hendrix's Third Stone From The Sun, with some superb guitar from Carlos Santana. That quality is continued on the instrumental that follows, Full Moon. Who's That Lady is a funky, heavy drum-powered cover of The Isley Brothers' That Lady. Carlos's guitar is superb on this. Jin-Go-Ba-La uses the rhythm from Jingo from the band's 1969 debut album. It re-works the track to great, riffy, muscular effect. Goodness And Mercy appears to be a live cut to finish - a synthesiser-dominated instrumental. It is probably the least impressive track on what was otherwise a quite stirring offering.

B-