Carlos Santana - guitar, vocals; Chepito Areas - percussion, timbales, congas; Tom Coster - keyboards; Graham Lear - drums; Raul Rekow - percussion; Pablo Tellez - bass; Luther Rabb - lead vocals; Joel Badie - percussion, timbales, congas
Recorded on New Year's Eve, 1976, this blistering Santana concert was recorded when Carlos and the band were going through numerous changes. After appearing at Woodstock, as well as in the documentary film of the same name, Santana's commercial success took-off. Afterwards, Santana continued to ride a wave of hits throughout most of 1970's, with their chart-topping success tapering off in the latter part of the decade.
When lead vocalist and keyboardist Greg Rolie departed in 1974 to form Journey, Carlos Santana immersed himself in the spiritual teachings of Sri Chinmoy, a guru who gained recognition when his teachings were adopted by John McLaughlin. Carlos was eager to experience and create new styles of music: avant garde jazz (he cut an album with Alice Coltrane, wife of the jazz saxophonist, John Coltrane) and fusion (he recorded an LP with McLaughlin). During this period he was releasing Santana albums as well, but the glut of so many diverse products in such a short period of time, caused confusion in the marketplace, and the sales of all his records began to slide.
For this tour, Santana was promoting Amigos, a record that brought him back to commercial solvency with the hit single, "Dance Sister Dance." The group had hired long time San Francisco studio whiz David Rubinson to produce them and help them streamline their focus. Rubinson took the band back to their roots with a distinctly Latin-flavored record of strong pop material. Carlos and his band then embarked on a hit and miss career over the next few years. This album and this period certainly got them back on the right course and was the foundation for the distinctly Latin curve Santana's music would follow from that time forward. As far as live performances go, this is a solid one, but not quite as eager and electrifying as the early Bay Area shows from the late '60s and early '70s. Santana, now well established in their musical groove, takes a more laidback approach to this show, yet still display the fire and passion he and the band have always been known for.
The show features a wide spectrum of all the music the Santana band had made up to this point. Newer selections from Amigos are placed around a handful of Santana classics, and although the band remains focused on their musicality, they make sure there is a healthy heap of hits. They are, after all, playing to their hometown crowd on New Year's Eve. Highlights include "Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen" (originally written and cut by Fleetwood Mac); "Oye Como Va" (a remake of a Latin hit by the late Tito Puente, originally released in 1955); and a nearly 15-minute version of "Soul Sacrifice," which brought the house down at Woodstock seven years prior.