This lineup reunites Carlos Santana with guitarist Neal Schon and other members of the 1970–1973 Santana band, reigniting their unique mix of Latin-rock, soul, jazz-rock fusion, and heavy Afro-Cuban beats. Listen to “Shake It” for a modern spin on old-school Santana, Carlos jamming on the wah-wah for the main track, while Schon is let off the leash to shred at the close, albeit a hair low in the mix.
“Fillmore East” is the kind of jam you rarely hear in rock anymore, Carlos and Neal trading tasty, ethereal lead licks reminiscent of 1972’s Caravanserai album, while “Choo Choo” sports a cooking groove under an Asian-flavored guitar harmony and singer Gregg Rolie’s cheesy, dated lyrics.
“All Aboard” is full-bore Latin rock, letting Schon rip as only the Journey guitarist can, and “Sueños” dials down the volume into a minor-key ballad, reminiscent of “Europa” and graced with Carlos’ nylon-string melodies before jumping to electric for the finale.
“Blues Magic” is another cool jam, this time based on 1970’s “Black Magic Woman.”
In all, Santana VI is a solid retro ride back to the sounds of some 45 years ago. It’s not an essential recording, but you have to admire the effort and performances. No question, Santana and Schon can still torch a fretboard after these many years.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s October ’16 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.