I have always been mystified by the reverence in which Santana's second album "Abraxas" is held by fans of the group; when that record, as strong as it is in places, is simply not in the same league as this work as far as I am concerned. The album makes a superb whole,rather than being simply a collection of tracks. This quality distinguishes the very best albums from the rest (eg Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon" or REM's "Automatic for the People"). From the atmospheric opener "Eternal Caravan of Reincarnation" with its languid double bass figure,the mood is set, then developed and enhanced. The exquisite guitar melodies of "Just in Time to See the Sun" and "Song of the Wind" carry the listener to the spiritual and melodic crescendo of "All the Love of the Universe". The second side (vinyl fans) is a more low-key affair, but the material is again uniformly strong,with the percussion interlude of "Future Primitive" bridging the intensity of side one and the build to another stunning climax with the epic "Every Step of the Way". The musicianship on display is breathtaking,notably drummer Mike Shrieve and of course Santana and Neal Schon on guitars. Ever since I first heard this album in 1973, it has been one of my all-time favourites,and I would still place in my top ten. For me,it fully realizes the potential of the album format as a means of taking you on a complete journey (without wanting to sound too cosmic-hippy!).All
of which makes for an immensely satisfying experience. Beautiful cover art,too.