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Positive Feedback ISSUE 35
january/february 2008


Mofi does Santana!
by Danny Kaey


Surprise, surprise, MoFi is reissuing Santana's first two classic albums. The first is of course his self-titled, Santana; next up will be Abraxas. Carlos Santana became famous in various San Francisco clubs in the 60s playing what was to become known as Latin-rock-pop-soul-funk. Their first two albums are the quintessential genre defining pieces, which carried the group from San Francisco to international stardom nearly overnight and throughout the late 70s. There after, Santana's direction changed for a distinctly more pop infused sound, his latest albums really having nothing to do with the genius that was Santana some 30 years ago.

Commercially, Santana and Abraxas became huge hits—I have no doubt that these two MoFi reissues will continue to sell like hotcakes. While Abraxas is not due for another few weeks, I eagerly awaited Santana arriving at my doorstep. Curious to find out what if any differences I would ultimately hear, both the 180gram vinyl and gold CD arrived with MoFi's latest branding and packaging. Musically, this album [Santana] rocks! Groovy tunes and melodies carry the entire album, with "Evil Ways" becoming the hit track off this album. Sonically, both vinyl and CD are top flight, considering the age of the original masters. Of all the available CD releases, Mr. Record recommends the original US first pressing and curiously, the first issue CD release. Everything else has gone the way of muddled sonics and massive compression.

Not surprisingly then, both CD and vinyl have roughly the same dynamics, tonality and overall sound, no doubt due to the superior mastering chain MoFi uses. The vinyl edges out the CD with slightly more presence and a more pleasing midrange, while the CD shines with a slightly more authoritative bass line, though of course your mileage may vary due to cartridge/tonearm/phono setup. Compared to my 70's vinyl Columbia reissue, the MoFi spanks it handily and than some. The CD meanwhile eats the most recent commercial "remastered" disc for breakfast, lunch and dinner, what with the horrid dynamic reduction/compression and overall muddled sound the Sony release has to offer—shame, shame, shame! It's truly amazing how much LOUDER and far less dynamic the commercial disc is—crazy!

Thus, Santana fans and those who are just now discovering Santana (let's just call them the iPod generation), this reissue is a definitive must own both artistically and sonically. I can hardly wait for Abraxas!