I am a fan of early Santana, and this debut album is fantastic! I don’t tink there really was anything like it at the time, and its contributions go beyond innovative.
Something can be fresh, but a creative dead-end. While I think Santana evelved into a less interesting musician around the early seventies, there is no denying that the first handfull of albums are great. Not only that, but one can trace musical progression through them. I also highly recommend MCMLXVIII– previously unreleased songs from the year before for a more complete picture of the gestation.
Which, of course, is not to say that the starting point is simplistic or lame. It’s great. Tunes like “Evil Ways” are classic rock. “Shades of Time” and “Persuasion” are as Santana’s best work. While I think “Jingo” and “Soul Sacrafice” are a bit overrated, I can understand why.
I do consider this to be an essential album, and own a few versions. The original stereo vinyl sounds great, and the 2004 Re-issue is the CD master to get: outtakes and the Woodstock perfomance included!