Savage Beauty In Paris (Godfatherecords G.R. 936)
L’Olympia, Paris, France – April 25, 1971
(56:42) Jungle Strut, Taboo, Toussaint L’Overture, Evil Ways, Soul Sacrifice, Samba Pa Ti, Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen, Oye Como Va, Savor/Percussion Solo/Jingo (reprise)
During Santana’s three and a half week tour of Europe in the spring of 1971, they played two nights at L’Olympia in Paris on April 24th & 25th. The recording from the second night features an excellent soundboard tape taken from a broadcast on French radio Europe 1. There are some very minor issues with the mix in places but never anything that would detract from a great listening experience. This particular line up (with the exception of Neal Schon who joined after the second LP, Abraxas) had been together since their debut self-titled LP and by the sound of the band, had become a super tight unit.
This has been released at least once before on CDR as Live At Olympia 1971 by the Midnight Dreamer label (MD-255). In comparison, Godfather’s version emphasizes more of the highs making it slightly clearer and more in your face allowing a bit more detail to shine through.
Santana III wouldn’t be released until September 1971 so the Parisian audience was getting their first glimpse of a few of the newer tracks. The disc fades up with “Jungle Strut” already in progress. The song was great for showcasing the duel guitars of Neal Schon and Carlos Santana as it would on the upcoming Santana III. After its heavy accented intro, “Taboo” takes on a very serene feel captivating the audience. Gregg Rolie’s vocal is low in the mix for the first few lines but is quickly corrected and brought up to the proper level. Carlos plays some beautiful licks here.
The instrumental “Toussaint L’Overture” gets things off to a much faster pace. Gregg Rolie takes a smoking solo on Hammond after the intro guitar licks. The percussion solo in the middle is somewhat buried in the mix and is hard to pick out exactly what is going on and unfortunately, Neal’s solos are a bit too low as well. A quick timbale fill connects this directly with “Evil Ways”. This is a bit different than the studio version with a brief “Oye Como Va” style jam in the middle. They return to the main theme of the song where Rolie plays a nice organ solo. The recording slightly distorts for a minute but the level adjusts back to normal shortly after.
“Soul Sacrifice” starts with an interesting alternate intro before the familiar descending bass line. Neal Schon gets to add a ripping solo after Carlos and shows that even at such an early age (he was only 17 here) he could keep up with the best of them. As usual, this houses a long percussion/drum solo in the middle. The track has such a strong finish that I am surprised they played this in the middle of the set instead of closing the night with it.
The beautiful “Samba Pa Ti” follows. Carlos’ playing during this one is always very special as he pours everything he has into it making it one of his most expressive statements of the evening. A very strange unexpected segue leads into “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen”. Neal takes the first half of the main solo and plays some nice melodic phrases. “Oye Como Va” follows like it does on the Abraxas LP and by the crowd’s reaction has already become a concert favorite.
A mini-medley starting with “Savor” kicks off the final number. Rolie once again plays his butt off and after a short percussion solo they transition into “Jingo”. Schon rips it up one last time as the band crash on the final chords of the evening.
Savage Beauty In Paris is packaged in Godfather’s tri-fold sleeve with plenty of photos of Carlos and extensive liner notes about the history of the band to this point from Paul De Luxe. The label once again expands its catalog into uncharted territory with an excellent early Santana title. This comes highly recommended for the great sound quality and fiery band performance. Santana is such an under represented artist on silver these days despite the multitude of great sounding soundboards that have come out on CDR. It would be nice to see Godfather release a few more gems like this in the future.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)