(U.S 1966–present, U.S 1967–2008)
I purchased Carlos Santana and Buddy Miles Live on vinyl in 1972 when it was first released, and I still consider it one of my favorite live music albums. The brass sound that was popular in the early 1970's adds energy and pop to this live recording. I first heard the fast version of Evil Ways on this live album, and still prefer it to the slower studio recording that is on the Santana Greatest Hits album. In fact, the first five cuts on this live album are a wild ride. If I have a possible complaint about Carlos Santana and Buddy Miles live, it would be that it is too short. If this album were only the first half, I'd love it. The combination of Carlos Santana's blistering guitar solos (and those of Neal Schon) and his Latin-rock-based band with the heavy, heavy gut drumming of Buddy Miles (soon to be a member of Jimi Hendrix's second great group, A Band of Gypsies, made for great, continually exciting music. "Lava," "Them Changes" (much better than on Buddy Miles's own group recording of the same time). The first half of the album is as exciting music as you could find at the time. The second half is a long, wandering piece entitled "Free Form Funkafide Filth", and the piece is about as good, and as dated, as its title. It's somewhat boring, heavy, and it doesn't go anywhere. But that doesn't matter because the first half is so good!
I wish this group had played together longer.
Live Album or Studio Scam?
There seem to be all sorts of urban legends surrounding this 1972 Top Ten album from Carlos Santana and Buddy Miles. Some people claim that the concert never took place (see topix.com) which seems unlikely, since Santana and Miles toured together extensively in late 1971 and early 1972. Others suggest that Carlos played little on the album, and while I respect the six-string talents of Neal Schon (who legend also says turned down an invitation from Eric Clapton to flesh out Derek and the Dominos to play with Santana's band, and who built a great reputation for himself as lead guitarist for Journey), there are numerous guitar runs on 'Live!' that have S-A-N-T-A-N-A written all over them. I think many of the myth-makers are deluded by the overly-engineered master tapes. It was common practice in the early seventies to modulate the amplitude of the crowd noise and this seems to be what was done with 'Live!'. While it sounds hokey at times (with what sounds like looped audience applause at times), that doesn't mean the performances didn't happen.
Perhaps also lending to the controversy is the liner notes listing the recording date as 'January 0, 1972', a non-existent date, suggesting the concert never happened. But the concert actually took place in Hawaii, in the center of the Diamond Head volcanic crater, on January 1, 1972 during the 'Sunshine '72 Festival', so the bogus date on the linear notes is probably a typo or was done as a joke.
Supporting that fact is a collage of about fourteen photographs from the concert itself. One can see Carlos playing guitar in several of them, and there's a number of Hawaiian-looking people standing around as well. That's proof enough for me. I guess this one doesn't rise to the level of the McCartney death hoax!
Fortunately, the music does rise to the occasion. I first acquired a copy of this album as one of my 12 "free" records when I joined the Columbia Record Club. I wasn't sure if I would like it, but in 1972 most people were convinced you couldn't go wrong with Carlos Santana, and I was one of them. I wasn't disappointed. While it may take a little time and a few listens for the 25 minute plus "Free Form Funkafide Filth" to grow on you... it does. I'm not sure how 'free form' this filth is (it's credited to Miles, Santana, drummer Gregg Errico, and bassist Ron Johnson), but it manages to hit a funk groove on several occasions and passes the ample running time (especially for a vinyl record) admirably.
The real gems, however, are on side one. While the track listing lists five separate tracks, tracks one and two ("Marbles" and "Lava") and tracks four and five ("Faith Interlude" and Mile's best known composition, "Them Changes") segue seamlessly into one another, creating a musical suite. Only an upbeat, horn augmented version of "Evil Ways" stands alone, almost as a centerpiece. All of these tracks, save "Faith Interlude", which is perfectly titled given it's bouyant strains, are funky tomes of dynamite. Robert Hogins on organ and Coke Escovedo on timbales, along with a trio of conga players, do yoeman's work keeping up with Santana, Schon, and Miles. Over the years these tracks have merged in my mind, and belong together as one piece of work every bit as much as the flip side of the original vinyl disc.
This album has been reissued on CD several times, having been remastered in 1994 and then reissued in 2005 and 2008. The pressed copies of the 2008 release must have gone quickly, explaining why it is no longer available. Sadly, no additional tracks have ever been added to any of the reissues, suggesting that no additional quality recordings from the concert exist. That's a little hard to believe, but what else could explain it? If additional material comparable to what is being offered here is ever released, criminal negligence charges should be levied against Bob Irwin, the "Reissue Producer", for keeping it under wraps for so long. [Don Schmittdiel 2008]
I personally enjoy the alternative whereby the continuity of the concert atmosphere is retained.
01. "Marbles" (McLaughlin) – 4:18
02. "Lava" (Miles) – 2:10
03. "Evil Ways" (Henry) – 6:36
04. "Faith Interlude" (Miles, Santana) – 2:13
05. "Them Changes" (Miles) – 5:50
06. "Free Form Funkafide Filth" (Errico, Johnson, Miles) – 24:54
Carlos Santana - guitar, vocals
Neal schon - guitar
Buddy Miles - Drums, percussion, congas, vocals
Ron Johnson - Bass
Bob Hogins - Organ, Electric Piano
Greg Errico - drums
Richard Clark - drums, percussion, congas
Coke Escovedo - percussion, tímbales.
Mingo Lewis - percussion
Mike Carabello - percussion, congas
Victor Pantoja - percussion, congas
Hadley Caliman - flute, saxophone
Luis Gasca - trumpet
Santana and Miles Link (168Mb)