808s / The World's Greatest Hits

The World’s Greatest Hits: Supernatural – Santana

Supernatural  – Santana – 1999

Claimed Sales: 30m

First listen?: Yes

Format Listened?: CD

Unlike seemingly every other household in at the turn of the millennium, we didn’t have a copy of Santana’s career best seller Supernatural. It’s one of the decade’s most iconic album ‘releases’ and stands out next to just about everything else I’ve covered in this series or otherwise. It’s a collaborative album, whether between Carlos Santana and other guitarists of the time ranging from Eric Clapton to Dave Matthews or exec producer Clive Davis bringing the likes of Lauryn Hill and Matchbox Twenty’s Rob Thomas. It’s an album steeped in the jam style of music creation that defines latin music every track is like that moment in a gig where the legacy act brings on a newer artist this admire to improvise around some songs together. There’s nothing that defines this more than closing jam session The Calling which sees Carlos Santana and Eric Clapton trade guitar riffs for over 7 genuinely exciting minutes. Supernatural is thrilling and while there’s definitely some weaker moments here, the Cee-Lo featuring Do You Like The Way doesn’t quite live up to the potential of Lauryn Hill’s entrancing opening verse, for the most part this is a string of Latin rock that never lets up. Put Your Lights On sees Everlast taking things down the heavier rock route, while opener (Da Le) Yaleo is a bombastic explosion of carnival atmosphere. Africa Bamba follows suit, but for the most part Supernatural sees the Latin sound blend with Hip Hop and rock influences. The Wyclef Jean produced Maria Maria was a 10 week #1 hit in the US and it’s a testament to Santana impossibly smooth and sexy riff that it still finds itself at the top end of that same chart nearly 2 decades on. Of course, there’s no song here as smooth as the biggest hit of all, Rob Thomas’ infectious Smooth is surely the best hook on the record and one of the most recognisable guitar sections of the decade. That’s the thing that makes Supernatural work as an album for me. This could quite easily be a too many cooks situation, with so many different genre influences and vocals appearing on just about every track, but the one constant is that familiar guitar sound of Santana. It’s as high in the mix as the vocals, even drowning them out on the likes of Corazon Espinado. It’s the central piece of the recordings and it allows Supernatural‘s true star to shine through at all times. As far as mixing goes, Supernatural is a genius package of music and given the legacy of its main star in his own genre for the decades that preceded its release, there’s no doubt why it broke the record for most Grammy wins for a single album in history when it picked up 9 in 2000. It’s universal success was unlike anything else in the decades that surrounded it and it holds up incredibly well now.

Rating: 8/10

Will I listen again?: Yes

Best Track: Opener (Da Le) Yaleo is a proper explosive way to open the album and Maria Maria‘s guitar riff is undeniable, but for me Smooth just about sums up the genius of this album the best here.

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