Santana Lotus, live fire not captured in studio?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by babaluma, Aug 21, 2018.

  1. babaluma

    babaluma Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I have long loved Lotus, I am very into 70s jazz rock and for me this virtually instrumental album showcases Santana at a perfect balance between his fusion approach and his Latin roots. However I have always been highly disappointed by the surrounding studio albums Welcome and Borboletta (and even though a bit later Amigos) . Lotus feels far more like it should have been released immediately after Caravanserai which to me is the studio peak of the "fusion" period. It has all the fire and experimentation of that album with strong hints of On The Corner and Weather Report in the sound.

    But Welcome and Borboletta feel rather weedy and compromised. There are some good tracks which are played better on Lotus, but the feel is really muted with some horrible (to me) discoy vocal tracks.

    What happened? How come Carlos didn't manage to produce an even more intense masterpiece with the same fury as Lotus in the studio? If you mixed the power of Lotus and Caravanserai together by rights he should have stunned us with an studio album like Bitches Brew or Mwandishi.
  2. bRETT

    bRETT Forum Resident

    Boston MA
    Welcome and Borboletta were experimental albums, and a large part of it was that Carlos really wanted to tone down the "guitar hero" moves and explore textures, and largely escape rock altogether. Also, neither was made with a consistent lineup, and the arrangements really vary (there is a lot of Brazilian music on Welcome, which doesn't figure into the live show). The equation changed when he got in front of an audience. But I do find plenty of intense moments on both albums-- Promise of a Fisherman, the McLaughlin jam, etc.
    footlooseman, kees1954 and ParloFax like this.
  3. babaluma

    babaluma Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Good points. I have to say I think some of the vocal tunes sound a bit like someone at the record company had a panic attack and asked Carlos to add a few numbers that maybe played on the radio. I think it is the awkward mix of lighter dreamy moments and as you mentioned a couple of high quality jams. I just like how Lotus is so consistent. If as you say Welcome and Borboletta were transitional line ups then Lotus could be viewed as the peak of this new band as it really gelled before they went back to a more commercial sound with Amigos.
    kees1954 likes this.
  4. Mook

    Mook Forum Resident

    The singing/lyrics on Welcome & Borboletta have aged really badly & probably weren't all that great at the time.

    Sometimes it helps to have someone in the band who will exert some quality control around this. Unfortunately Santana weren't the only band to suffer, most Jazz/Fusion I have from the mid 70s is the same with regards the singing. We now live in a cynical/secular World where singing some poetry your spiritual guru wrote to the almighty tends to sound a bit embarrassing.

    Cosmic Debris by Frank Zappa has aged a lot better...
  5. tlake6659

    tlake6659 Forum Resident

    Welcome and Borboletta would be much better albums as instrumentals or with Gregg Rolie on lead vocals. Santana never had a good vocalist after him.
  6. pbuzby

    pbuzby Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL, US
    Leon Thomas was a great vocalist. For some reason Santana didn't have him sing much though.
  7. Jerry

    Jerry Grateful Gort Staff

    New England
    Carlos HATES Lotus. He told me he hears all his mistakes that he can't fix.
  8. heepsterandrey

    heepsterandrey Forum Resident

    I love Welcome and Borboletta. Around this Carlos also put out Love Devotion Surrender with John McLaughlin, and Illuminations with Alice Coltrane. Borboletta was a bit of a step down mostly because Leon Patillo’s vocals weren’t as strong as Greg Rolie’s Or Leon Thomas’ vocals, but to me that whole era didn’t really have any bad albums.
    dylankicks, bataclan2002 and acetboy like this.
  9. heepsterandrey

    heepsterandrey Forum Resident

    Was it you that was working at a record store, and knowing that Carlos was stopping by, played Lotus for him?
    Jerry likes this.
  10. walrus

    walrus Forum Resident

    Nashville, TN
    I don't think there's ever been a time when that didn't sound embarrassing.
    Marc Perman, Scott222C and Mook like this.
  11. cdollaz

    cdollaz Forum Resident

    It is one of my very favorite live albums and my favorite Santana release. I probably listen to it more than all of my other Santana albums combined.
    Kingsley Fats and Musicisthebest like this.
  12. Gavaxeman

    Gavaxeman Take me back to dear old Blighty...

    West Midlands U.K.
    love lotus , the triple vinyl is a thing of beauty indeed
  13. Jerry

    Jerry Grateful Gort Staff

    New England
    Yep, except it was Pacific Stereo. Good memory!
  14. rjp

    rjp Senior Member

    glad to hear that, because i never 'got' 'lotus' either.
  15. bRETT

    bRETT Forum Resident

    Boston MA
    As was Flora Purim, though she's only on one song.
    janschfan, ganma, steviebee and 2 others like this.
  16. no.nine

    no.nine (not his real name)

    Me, neither. For me, it's just TOO relentless. Also, Carlos' guitar is mixed too high (I seem to recall he complained of the same thing in some interview I read), and when he hits those high frequency sustained notes, my ears just couldn't take it.

    I think one of the reasons I like Welcome and Borboletta so much is that they have peaks and valleys. There's light and shade, and there's breathing room. I don't remember much of this on Lotus. Plus, Lotus has one of the most tedious drum solos I've ever heard. And I'm one of those rare folks who LIKES drum solos.

    I WANTED to like Lotus. I loved the idea of a jamming extension of Welcome and Barboletta, but ultimately I just couldn't handle it. Apologies to the Lotus fans here.
    kees1954, McLover and bluejimbop like this.
  17. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    Central PA
    Either way, how can one possibly capture in the studio the "danger" and sponteneity and risk-taking one does as a matter of fact playing live in front of an audience? What you capture live, isn't even realised when you walk into a studio with a plan, rehearsed material, and a crew of audio professionals you are working with to achieve a totally different sort of performance.
    babaluma and heepsterandrey like this.
  18. ZenArcher

    ZenArcher Forum Resident

    Durham, NC
    I once talked to Tom Custer after a concert, and he said the whole band was disappointed in Lotus. They didn't think it was their best playing, or a good representation of their music. But we can love it...
    kees1954 likes this.
  19. pbuzby

    pbuzby Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL, US
    I enjoy the solo, especially the part where Coster joins with the ring modulated Rhodes.
    babaluma, ParloFax and Mook like this.
  20. pbuzby

    pbuzby Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL, US
    A fair number of musicians would say that about any live recording they made (in some cases, any live or studio recording), I think.
  21. I love Lotus, and I love Welcome - a wonderful, poignant album - including Leon Thomas' and Wendy Haas' singing. Flora Purim is being herself I guess, but I'm not wild about her own style.
    heepsterandrey likes this.
  22. snepts

    snepts Forum Resident

    Eugene, OR
    I have a real fondness for Welcome. #1 - I got it for free after subscribing to Creem Magazine, shipped in the mail when it was brand new, (along with Dave Mason It's Like You Never Left).
    #2 - I was way too young to get into it, so it rattled around my collection for at least 15 years until I finally gave it another good listen.
    #3 - While I'm not necessarily a very spiritual person, I'm intrigued by how moved Coltrane, McLaughlin and Santana were by (for want of a better word,) Mysticism.
    Van Morrison is a completely different artist, but he certainly pays due to the Mystic.
    These days, I still listen to Welcome as if it's a brand new, fresh offering. Once made a World Music / Jazz pastiche that included Mother Africa, Bulgarian Voices, maybe Ornette's Una Muy Bonita, other stuff from a Nonesuch sampler I had, whatever sprang to mind. My GF at the time would play it in her bagel / cookie shop where she worked. Sounded darn good, if I do say so myself.
    edit: I think I also included some of the wordless tracks from the Croz debut. What fun.
    kees1954 and babaluma like this.
  23. Larry Geller

    Larry Geller Surround sound lunatic

    Bayside, NY
    Flame Sky is one if the high points of Carlos' career, the best track of that whole era.
    Mook likes this.
  24. Szeppelin75

    Szeppelin75 Forum Resident

    L9ve love Lotus. Masterpiece. Bu also like The albums mentioned here that came before.
    ganma likes this.
  25. Kingsley Fats

    Kingsley Fats Forum Resident

    I saw the Lotus version of the band playing live. It was pretty spectacular as is the album. Santana & band at their very peak.
    ganma, dylankicks and Szeppelin75 like this.

Share This Page