Santana - Ceremony - Remixes and Rarities

Forget Hendrix, The Who and even Country Joe And The Fish's Fish Cheer/I Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die Rag, the two outstanding moments of Woodstock as captured by filmmaker Michael Wadleigh were Sly And The Family Stone's bringing of a riotous funk to the hippies and Carlos Santana's tripped out fusion of rock, Latin rhythms and psychedelia. When Santana took to the stage with a heavy dose of lysergic acid rippling through his arteries, Soul Sacrifice became his remarkable introduction and almost forty years later, as Foo Foo proves here, Carlos Santana hasn't lost his ability to produce a heady mix of euphoric rhythms and soaring guitars.

The last five years have been busy for Santana following his signing to BMG and his being allowed a good deal of freedom. Following on from 1999's Supernatural and 2000's Shaman, both of which feature classic Santana album-titles, Carlos Santana has turned the pickup of session players and his own pop savvy into something that is repeatedly paying off. With this latest album, in what will doubtless prove to be his first of many throughout this year if 2003 is anything to go by, Santana has pulled together a bunch of remixes and outtakes from both Supernatural and Shaman to create an occasionally stunning but slightly unnecessary album.

Beginning with Why Don't You And I, which only gets moving from the second minute, Ceremony - Remixes And Rarities openly states its intention. This first track is a re-recording of the same song from Shaman but replaces the original vocal, supplied by Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, for one by The Calling's Alex Band. Smooth, this album's second track but one that originally appeared on Supernatural, is presented here as a dance remix and, with Wyclef Jean adding his rudimentary and uninspired rapping to Maria Maria, it falls to Foo Foo (Sam Sever Remix) to pull Ceremony into shape. Featuring a frenzied Latin rhythm, the simple chant of, "Santana! Santana!" and Carlos Santana's own fluid playing, which calls and responds to the music, Foo Foo is a big whoop of a shout out to Santana's own upbringing in Mexico and the frenzy of the street carnival. In as much as Soul Sacrifice, as well as Sly And The Family Stone's I Want To Take You Higher, got the hippies moving at Woodstock, Foo Foo is a glorious return to those heady days and shows that, despite years of journeyman playing, Carlos Santana has still got the touch.

Just after Foo Foo, Mañana slows the album a little and, from that point on, Ceremony jumps between delicate acoustic songs and solid rock, including the gentle, creamy Curación (Sunlight on Water) and the crunchy, fun Truth Don Die. Ceremony is a more playful album than either Supernatural or Shaman and the colourful Come To My World is likely to be the best example of Santana's newfound sense of energy.

Whilst Ceremony is a fine album, it does tend to limp to an ending. Given the paucity of remix and outtake albums that stand alongside studio releases, this is hardly a surprise but there are moments when Santana's signature sound flashes across the songs and for anyone who still holds dear to their copy of Abraxas, Ceremony is worth buying for those glimpses of a remarkable musician on Foo Foo, Mañana and Curación.



out of 10

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