Santana – Viva Santana!

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  • Santana’s MONSTER triple album compilation finally makes its Hot Stamper return here with Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on all SIX sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • These vintage Columbia pressings are guaranteed to rock like no other copy you’ve ever played
  • Full of mostly-live, previously unreleased versions of favorites, mixed with a number of new works, this collection is a must-have for Santana fans
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Released in 1988, Viva Santana! is a generous 30-track overview of Santana’s first 20 years of recording… both Carlos Santana and his supporting musicians were on fire.”

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 All SIX Outstanding Sides 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 1988
  • 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.

Size

One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.

Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.

And most of the time those very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy that does all that, it’s an entirely different listening experience.

What We’re Listening For on Viva Santana!

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • 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

Everybody’s Everything
Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen
Guajira
Jingo

Side Two

Ballin
Bambara
Angel Negro
Incident At Neshabur
Just Let The Music Speak

Side Three

Super Boogie / Hong Kong Blues
Song Of The Wind
Abi Cama
Vilato
Paris Finale

Side Four

Brotherhood
Open Invitation
Aqua Marine
Dance Sister Dance (Baila Mi Hermana)

Side Five

Perza 1
She’s Not There
Bambele
Evil Ways
Daughter Of The Night
Europa (Earth’s Cry, Heaven’s Smile)

Side Six

Perza II
Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen (Live Montreal)
Oye Como Va
Percussion
Soul Sacrifice

AMG 4 1/2 Star Review

Released in 1988, Viva Santana! is a generous 30-track overview of Santana’s first 20 years of recording. Appropriately, it concentrates on the band’s glory years of the late ’60s and early ’70s, when both Carlos Santana and his supporting musicians were on fire. There are several unreleased cuts, including live tracks included for hardcore fans, but Viva Santana! is most useful as a thorough overview for curious listeners.

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