Santana: Every Step of the Way


Every Step of the Way




Caravanserai (Columbia CK 31610)

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Carlos Santana (guitar),

Gregg Rolie (organ), Neal Schon (guitar), Tom Rutley (bass), Mingo Lewis (congas), Mike Shrieve (drums), Jose Chepito Areas (timbales)


Composed by Mike Shrieve; orchestra arranged by Tom Harrell


Recorded: February 21-May 5, 1972


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

There is a funny Saturday Night Live sketch featuring Will Ferrell that has become so famous it is now nicknamed the "More Cowbell" routine. In the skit, Ferrell's character is in the band Blue Öyster Cult during a recording session for what would become the band's biggest hit, "Don't Fear the Reaper." He is insistent on overwhelming the music with his constant clanging of his cowbell. It is very funny. I am not quite sure if one of the percussionists on "Every Step of the Way" is hitting a cowbell or another similar apparatus during the song's long introductory passage. But it sounds remarkably like Ferrell's turn some 30 years later on SNL. Listening today it made me laugh. Of course this is unfair to the original music reviewed here. But things pop into your head when you are looking for 1,000 different angles to describe music. I usually go with the first thing that crops up because it is the most honest.

If you can pry your ears from the cowbell on "Every Step of the Way," you will find a finely crafted, grooving, semi-Latin rock jazz number. The steady beat leads to tentative guitar growls that sometimes employ feedback. A rising dual-guitar arpeggio leads us into more recognizable Santana territory. The song becomes similar in structure to his big rock hit "Jingo." But it doesn't stay there too long, as Santana and Schon do a little further investigating. An orchestral background arises as the constant chugging of Santana's trademark band sound sustains forward momentum.

There are mostly two types of Santana fans, comprising those who like his rock stuff and those who prefer his fusion music. "Every Step of the Way" splits the difference right down the middle and should please both camps. Of course, I can't really speak for the cowbell camp.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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