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1. Santana (1969)
Carlos upended the San Francisco jam scene with his band’s debut recording. Whereas established SF rock improvisers like the Grateful Dead had drawn heavily from folk and country, Santana introduced Latin, European, and Indian influences to the mix, creating a sound that was uniquely their own.
2. Abraxas (1970)
One year after their recorded debut, Santana became stars with this record. It features two of the band’s all-time classics, “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen” (a mash-up of original songs by Peter Green and Gábor Szabó) and “Oye Como Va” by the acclaimed Tito Puente. Abraxas is the record that defined Santana for a generation.
4. Caravanserai (1972)
Continuing their streak, Santana released their fourth album in as many years. This one pushed deeper into jazz fusion rather than the hits of the earlier recordings. After parting ways with the original line up, the new band took more risks, and was accordingly rewarded. Clive Davis called the album “career suicide,” but Caravanserai remains an important work, and a favorite amongst Santana fans.
8. Supernatural (1999)
Although Carlos broke out in the 1970s, his commercial peak actually came with this 1999 record of all-star tracks, which was eventually certified Diamond by the RIAA (meaning it sold over 15 million copies). Billboard ranked the single “Smooth,” with Rob Thomas on vocals and Carlos on lead guitar, as the second most successful song of all time, behind Chubby Checker’s “The Twist.”
9. The Power of Peace (2017)
Carlos continues to produce vital music up through the present day, and 2017’s The Power of Peace is one such example. Recorded in collaboration with The Isley Brothers, the record is an incredible journey through some of the immortal soul, funk, blues, rock, jazz, and pop songs that inspired these groundbreaking artists.
Top 10 Carlos Santana Songs
According to Billboard charts:
“Smooth” from Supernatural
“Maria Maria” from Supernatural
“Black Magic Woman” from Abraxas
“The Game of Love” from Shaman
“Why Don’t You & I” from Shaman
“Evil Ways” from Santana
“Everybody’s Everything” from Santana III
“Oye Como Va” from Abraxas
“Hold On” from Shangó
“Winning” from Zebop!
Santana III/Man With an Outstretched Hand (1971)
Inner Secrets (1978)
Beyond Appearances (1985)
Spirits Dancing in the Flesh (1990)
All That I Am (2005)
Guitar Heaven (2010)
Shape Shifter (2012)
Santana IV (2016)