These essays have been love letters to songs, but in this case it’s really to an album: Santana’s Caravanserai, from 1972. I it’s not just a disc-full of songs, it’s a 51-minute explosion of rhythm and passion, the songs are just pieces of the puzzle. Since it’s the song of the day, I have to pick one: It’s Stone Flower, written by Antônio Carlos Jobim, who’s appeared here before.
To the extent Caravanserai has a hit, it’d be Song of the Wind, or maybe Every Step of the Way. I like Stone Flower because along with the guitar/percussion assault, it embeds a nice friendly little pop song.
One reason the album is so great is the band, which includes Michael Shrieve, long one of my heroes, and Neil Schon, later of Journey fame.
It’s also worth talking about the sound. There’s a curiosity; the album was originally increased in quadraphonic sound, an audio trend that lasted about fifteen minutes in the early Seventies. But mostly it just sounds great, the guitars and drum and Hammond organ parts arranged with care and captured with love. Yeah, there’s flashy drumming and hotshot guitar shredding, but you almost don’t notice because you’re just going with the flow of the songs. It’s a truly great piece of music; the whole album I mean, as a single piece of music.
Links · Spotify playlist. Stone Flower on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify. You can’t buy the album from Amazon, but here are album links at Spotify and iTunes. As for live video, there’s nothing from Caravanserai out there that captures the feeling of the record.