Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Gregg Rolie Band Conjure Up The Fire And Passion Of Early Santana On Live 'Rain Dance'

The Gregg Rolie Band
Rain Dance (Limited Edition)

Review by Nightwatcher

Forty years ago, in a muddy pasture, part of a dairy farm in the rural town of Bethel, New York, the original Santana band performed a show stopping set at the legendary Woodstock Music and Arts Festival. Stunning the 500,000 plus in attendance with their unique, visionary blend of heavy blues based guitar rock melded with Latin rhythms, it was one of the highlights of the event, serving to help catapult the young musical collective to instant stardom.

Four decades may have passed since that mercurial time, yet one of the main architects of that band's sound besides Carlos Santana is still going strong, as Gregg Rolie, original vocalist/keyboardist of that Santana band has with a new aggregation of musicians returned with a storming live set, recorded live at the 2007 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Jammed full with early classics such as "Black Magic Woman", No One To Depend On", "Evil Ways", "Jingo", "Oye Como Va", an astounding 10 minute plus version of the song immortalized in the 'Woodstock' movie, "Soul Sacrifice" along with newer material from Rolie's critically acclaimed 2001 'Roots' album, they succeed in doing justice to all the material admirably.

Guitarist Kurt Griffey channels the feel of the original parts whilst still adding his own style, and the rest of the musicians cook throughout the 12 tracks included here. Also featuring founding Santana member Michael Carabello on Congas, Adrian Areas (son of original Santana percussionist Jose Chepito Areas) on Timbales, drummer Ron Wikso (who was also in The Storm), another Santana alumni in bassist Alphonso Johnson and former Jean Luc Ponty keyboardist Wally Minko, with players of this caliber, you can expect fine performances. The production values and mix allow all the instruments to breathe, resulting in a highly enjoyable listening experience throughout.

While Carlos has seemingly lost the desire in recent years to mine the heavy latin grooves and jazz inflections which graced the early albums in favor of pop duets with all star guests, this is an album and band which captures the spirit and fire perfectly. Close your eyes and you'll be excused in thinking that this is a long lost recording from the late 60's/early 70's, so true to the original vision this is. If you're a fan of the quintessential Santana sound, this is an offering you can't pass up. 10/10

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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David Watcerson
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