Sunday, 3 February 2019

Santana - Zebop! (1981)

Primera invasion....


Released April 1981

This was one of Santana's most "rock" albums, with far less jazzy experimentation or Latin rhythms as on previous or later albums. It was very much aimed at the rock/pop mainstream.


1. Changes
2. É Papa Ré
3. Primera Invasion
4. Searchin'
5. Over And Over
6. Winning
7. Tales of Kilimanjaro
8. The Sensitive Kind
9. American Gypsy
10. I Love You Much Too Much
11. Brightest Star
12. Hannibal                                            

Changes has a singalong Band-style country rock chorus and, half way through some searing, riffy guitar. It is far more of a rock song than a Latin, rhythmic number. É Papa Ré has some Latin syncopation and jazzy parts to it. It is one of the album's few Latin numbers. Even this one, however, ends with some heavy rock guitar. Primera Invasion is a more typical pice of Santana Latin rock, with some infectious percussion. It merges straight in to the synthesiser-driven pop rock of Searchin'. It has a real West Coast, AOR feel to it. It has some prog rock-style keyboards though, before Carlos Santana's trademark guitar arrives. It is a good track. Over And Over is a very commercial song, with a sort of REO Speedwagon meets ABBA chorus and vague hints of The Who's Behind Blue Eyes in the verses. It is as poppy as anything Santana has really done.

Winning is another most poppy number with hints, for me of Peter Gabriel's Solsbury Hill. Again, it is most un-Santana-ish. If you heard it you wouldn't say it was them. Santana's recognisable guitar introduces Tales Of Kilimanjaro, which is a muscular, thumping instrumental with a big, heavy bass sound. The Sensitive Kind is a soulful rhythmic number, with a captivating vocal. This is all very listenable stuff.

American Gypsy is the album's other typical Santana Latin groove, full of vibrant percussion, swirling Santana guitar and Spanish chanted lyrics. I Love You Much Too Much has a Parisian Walkways-style guitar melody. It is a most appealing, atmospheric instrumental. Brightest Star has some superb guitar introducing it, before some more soulful vocals arrive. The soul vocals on this album are provided by Alex Ligertwood. The track ends with a kind of Blood, Sweat & Tears-style blues rock vocal barrage. Hannibal is a more recognisable, Spanish vocal Latin workout to remind the listener that this was indeed Santana. To be fair, there is much that is trademark Santana dotted around, but the overall feel of radio-friendly rock is quite unusual for Carlos and his band.