This is a review of the 2CD (Euro) edition as shown and being sold by Amazon UK.
There are other reviews here that relate to a 3CD edition of Lotus.
It has been many years since I owned or heard the original triple vinyl, but hearing this recent 2CD edition nails it for me. I've currently been listening to Lotus on CD much more nowadays than I ever did when I owned the triple LP, and for the first time I'm fully enjoying the live Santana Lotus vibes to the max!
Remix engineers Tomoo Suzuki & Hidto Isoda.
Digitally mastered by Joe Gaswirt.
*This current Euro edition sounds identical to the earlier 1990's US one.
Back in the heady days of the mid '70s my best mate got this as a triple album, which I put on to tape and until last year I've used that tape and copies continually, finally it is now availible on CD. What a Relief ! (But it does, unfortunatly, sound better from vinyl). It still gives me a buzz even today - mixing all musical forms into an entrancing musical experience which in all honesty is almost impossible to put in a concise form on paper. The highlights for me are the introduction, 'Going Home', 'Every step of the Way' and the totally amazing 'Incident at Neshabur'. The album was very expensive then - now on CD it is an incredible bargain. Thanks Carlos for over 25 years of enjoyment!
`Lotus' was a live concert recording in Japan of the same line-up that made the excellent (but at the time underrated) `Welcome' studio album, billed as `The New Santana Band.' The concerts from which the material was taken were on 3rd & 4th July 1973, and the album was first released in May the following year.
The original release was a triple 12-inch vinyl offering with a predominantly black fold-out cover like an enormous work of origami, festooned with colourful religious imagery from Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity to symbolise spiritual union. It was uniquely and extravagantly lavish not just in the history of Santana's prolific releases over the years but for any other music from the era, and has become collectible in itself. Both 3CD and 2CD releases followed with broadly identical (but of course much smaller) replicas of the original album artwork.
The most common format available now is the 2CD, though you can still track down 3-disk vinyl originals in prime condition.
The music of the `New Santana Band' from this period is predominantly jazz-rock fusion fed by Latin rhythms and complex percussion from Armando Peraza and Jose Chepito Areas, with Michael Shrieve on drums. The sound is predominantly like that on `Caravanserai' and also more keyboard-driven (the excellent duo of Tom Coster and Richard Kermode) than the Woodstock-era Santana. `Lotus' features a couple of numbers from the forthcoming `Welcome' album performed ahead of release, and apart from a powerful performance of `Every Step of the Way' from `Caravanserai' most of the rest of the material is from the band's first three albums. Leon Thomas walks on and off stage to sing a couple of numbers but is on the whole under-employed.
The band is tight and bursting with energy, with some real virtuoso playing. It's great to hear the line-up which produced the ambient, jazz-leaning `Welcome' album tearing into Santana classics like `Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen', `Incident at Neshabur' (a real stormer on this album) and `Toussaint L'Overture' with gusto and outdoing anything the earlier incarnation of the band ever delivered onstage, great though they were.
Detractors who like to hear Santana play tight and disciplined `songs' sometimes complain about the long extended pieces, too much jamming, Carlos' guitar taking a back seat on some numbers, a long indulgent drum solo from Michael Shrieve (well, this was the 1970s folks) and less-than-perfect sound recording. The only gripe with any merit might be that the drum solo could have been excluded from the final album release, but to be honest the other criticisms don't have much substance. Carlos is in great form (especially on his extended and imaginative delivery of `Samba Pa Ti') though does not personally dominate the music: he allows space for his fellow band members to shine. The sound recording is clear and nicely balanced too, for a live concert from any era let alone the 1970s.
Overall `Lotus' is a great album and something of a landmark, but will appeal mostly to fans of the band's more imaginative output during this productive period, when Santana explored jazz fusion and IMO made their best-ever music. It might appeal less to those who like the band only when they play structured five-minute songs, so if this more mellow side of Santana is what floats your boat, then best leave `Lotus' well alone.
Fans of the band were a little disappointed at the time I recall, still coming down off the high that was 'Caravanserai', resulting in numerous copies of 'Welcome' finding their way ( unfairly ) into bargain bins. Live however, the 1973 version of the band captured in Japan on this double CD set could surely not disappoint. As an example of what could be achieved at the time by a rock band on stage, in terms of sheer togetherness of musicians and improvisational prowess there was perhaps no-one on earth to touch them. Music that still thrills to the core from a band completely at the top of their game.
Exhilarating live album from a band at their creative peak. The highlights of two concerts recorded in Osaka Japan, on 3rd and 4th July 1973. 'Lotus' was originally a triple album released in 1974, but only available as an import in the USA and UK. A sublime fusion of Blues Rock, Soul, Latin beats, and Jazz . Carlos Santana's guitar playing is a sheer joy but all the diverse influences that the rest of the group ( usually known as the New Santana Band from 1972 -1975 ) brought to the fore are well highlighted. Starting with 'Going Home' an instrumental that Carlos Santana co-wrote with Alice Coltrane, the album then switches gear drastically to 'A1 Funk' exploring some of the soul related influences that the group were working with on 'Barboletta' (1974). Then the excellent 'Every Step of the Way' written by drummer Michael Shrieve, who introduced Carlos Santana to the work of John Coltrane and Miles Davis, originally from the 'Caravanserai' (1972) album. The Santana live hits, the blues tinged 'Black Magic Woman' (originally by Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac) and the Latin rock classic 'Oye Como Va' are also featured as well as some lesser know numbers such as an instrumental version of 'Yours is the Light' from the 1973 album 'Welcome'. Just in case anyone forgets that this was recorded in the Nixon era, there is the funk instrumental 'Angela' named after Black Power activist 'Angela Davis'. Disc 2 keeps the momentum going , opening with The Miles Davis type 'Mantra' , followed Michael Shrieve's massive early 1970's drum solo on 'Kyoto'. Other prime tracks include 'Se Se A Cabo '- classic Latin rock, along with live Santana favourite 'Samba Pa Ti' , whilst 'Toussaint L' Overture' named after the leader of a slave revolt in 1793, brings the release to a magnificent conclusion.
I hade this album when it was launched originally on vinyl. Big investment for a student but a superb live album. As fresh today as it was then. I am always wary about the quality of the endless live albums of dubious quality record companies pour out, but this is not one of them. This is a great album with Santana performing at their height.
I own the VERY expensive 2006 CD release that spans 3 discs. I'm only 23, so I can't be certain, but I think it's a minature re-production of the original 1973 vinyl. Either way, the 3 CD version is lush in every way.
It all comes in a see through plastic slip case. There's the gate-fold CD package itself, rather like Led Zeppelin's 'How The West Was Won' and the booklet seperate. The booklet is all in Japanese however! Some great pictures though.
The CD package is presented beautifully. Stunning art work abound, either end of the fold out pulls out completely and folds up and down to reveal even more mystical art. Each CD pulls out in a cardboard slip case, and inside this a plastic sleeve, just like a mini vinyl! All this is after you've folded out the package, and looked at all the various mini-posters/postcards that are in there, as well as what I assume to be a copy of the original gig ticket, and reciept, although it's all in Japanese, so I may be mistaken!
As for the music itself? Sublime. I doubt it varies much, if at all from the 2008 2 CD release that costs £11 or thereabouts. This 3 CD version does maintain the original 1973 track order though, but that's only a minor quibble about the regular CD release as long as everything is there.
To summerise, this expensive release is stellar. And there's the catch: expensive. £70 or whatever is alot to ask. If you're an avid fan or collector then yes it's worth it, cos the box set is very special, and so well presented. If you're just really rich and can afford it then go for it. For the average, just stick to the 2 CD version cos it's fine. This would make an amazing present though for someone who likes Santana but doesn't own this album in any form. Just look after it! It's a cracking album either way you cut it. One of the best live albums by anyone ever.
Without question, this triple cd of their live recording in Japan, would have to be their very best.....ever. Years ago, I bought their triple vinyl recording. It is still scratchless and is in perfect condition. But, wear and tear does come at a price, so when I saw that this 3 disc set was available, I bought it.If you haven't heard it, you don't know what you're missing. Buy it, you'll be glad you did.