55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Searing beauty, 18 May 2005
This is an astounding album. It sounds very different from anything else in the Santana canon, largely because it was very much a transitional work, retaining a sense of the psychedelic Latin rock of the first three albums whilst pointing to the fusion direction of later albums like Welcome and Borboletta but not entirely crossing over into jazz. Despite the success of the first 3 albums, by late 1971 Carlos Santana had become disillusioned with the rock n roll lifestyle and its trappings and felt that the music he had been making was no longer what he wanted to do. Clearly, this caused tensions within the band and Caravanserai was recorded with a different line up from the first 3, although Rolie and Shrieve were still present (this was Rolie's last album with the band however).
The album is something of a paradox, being fairly dense and abstract while at the same time being light and soulful. I know this sounds like a total contradiction, but if you hear the album, you'll know what I mean. Most of the tracks are instrumental and the first five or six are really one single flowing track, with shifting moods and delicate, heartstopping guitar playing. The bossa nova influenced cover of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Stone Flower" is lovely and the closing "Every Step Of The Way" contains mindblowing hyperspeed riffing with much use of Carlos' trademark almost infinite sustain. It is less immediately accessible than the first 3 albums and may take a few listens but this will be amply repayed, the inherent beauty of the music shining through.
Although I love the first 3 Santana albums, as well as later even more fusiony albums such as "Welcome", "Borboletta" and "Moonflower", this is unquestionably my favourite Santana album and one of the albums I listen to most frequently out of my entire collection. And every time I listen to it, it reveals something new to me. If you think "Supernatural" and "Shaman" are fantastic albums, then it's very possible that you won't like this as it's a million miles away from the all star Latin pop on these albums. However, you owe it to yourself to hear this album which firmly stakes Carlos Santana's claim to being one of the most innovative guitarists of the 2nd half of the 20th century.