Carlos Santana, John McLauglin and The Mahavishnu Orchestra – Love Devotion Surrender

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  • This stellar collaboration finally makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound throughout
  • The sound is huge, spacious, lively, transparent and punchy – this is jazz fusion that really rocks
  • A superb collection “inspired by the teachings of Sri Chinmoy and intended as a tribute to John Coltrane”
  • 4 1/2 stars: “To hear this recording in the context of not only Carlos Santana’s development as a guitarist, but as the logical extension of the music of John Coltrane and Miles Davis influencing rock musicians — McLaughlin, of course, was a former Davis sideman — this extension makes perfect sense in the post-Sonic Youth, post-rock era.”

This vintage Columbia pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the Best Sides of Love Devotion Surrender Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1973
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We’re Listening For on Love Devotion Surrender

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

A Love Supreme
Naima
The Life Divine

Side Two

Let Us Go Into The House Of The Lord
Meditation

AMG 4 1/2 Star Review

A hopelessly misunderstood record in its time by Santana fans — they were still reeling from the radical direction shift toward jazz on Caravanserai and praying it was an aberration — it was greeted by Santana devotees with hostility, contrasted with kindness from major-league critics like Robert Palmer. To hear this recording in the context of not only Carlos Santana’s development as a guitarist, but as the logical extension of the music of John Coltrane and Miles Davis influencing rock musicians — McLaughlin, of course, was a former Davis sideman — this extension makes perfect sense in the post-Sonic Youth, post-rock era.

With the exception of Coltrane’s “Naima” and McLaughlin’s “Meditation,” this album consists of merely three extended guitar jams played on the spiritual ecstasy tip — both men were devotees of guru Shri Chinmoy at the time. The assembled band included members of Santana’s band and the Mahavishnu Orchestra in Michael Shrieve, Billy Cobham, Doug Rauch, Armando Peraza, Jan Hammer (playing drums!), and Don Alias.

But it is the presence of the revolutionary jazz organist Larry Young — a colleague of McLaughlin’s in Tony Williams’ Lifetime band — that makes the entire project gel. He stands as the great communicator harmonically between the two very different guitarists whose ideas contrasted enough to complement one another in the context of Young’s aggressive approach to keep the entire proceeding in the air. In the acknowledgement section of Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme,” which opens the album, Young creates a channel between Santana’s riotous, transcendent, melodic runs and McLaughlin’s rapid-fire machine-gun riffing. Young’ double-handed striated chord voicings offered enough for both men to chew on, leaving free-ranging territory for percussive effects to drive the tracks from underneath. Check “Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord,” which was musically inspired by Bobby Womack’s “Breezing” and dynamically foreshadowed by Pharoah Sanders’ read of it, or the insanely knotty yet intervallically transcendent “The Life Divine,” for the manner in which Young’s organ actually speaks both languages simultaneously.

Young is the person who makes the room for the deep spirituality inherent in these sessions to be grasped for what it is: the interplay of two men who were not merely paying tribute to Coltrane, but trying to take his ideas about going beyond the realm of Western music to communicate with the language of the heart as it united with the cosmos. After three decades, Love Devotion Surrender still sounds completely radical and stunningly, movingly beautiful.

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