Santana: Flame-Sky






Welcome (Columbia Legacy CK 85944)

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Carlos Santana (guitar), John McLaughlin (guitar),

Tom Coster (keyboards), Richard Kermode (Hammond organ), Doug Rauch (bass), Maitreya Michael Shrieve (drums), Armando Peraza (congas)


Composed by Carlos Santana, John McLaughlin & Doug Rauch


Recorded: New York, May 1973


Rating: 97/100 (learn more)

For years, copies of the Welcome LP were near collectibles. Long out of print, the album only became available again with its 2003 CD reissue. Without a doubt the tune that made the album so desirable to many fusionphiles was "Flame-Sky." This legendary performance featured Santana with guitar buddy and spiritual guide Mahavishnu John McLaughlin during the apex of their historic collaborations. The recording session took place around the time McLaughlin and Santana were finishing their co-release Love Devotion Surrender.

"Flame-Sky" begins with gentle intentions and the sustained notes of a lengthy soaring Santana solo. The song's midsection devolves into some evil intentions before the pace picks up appreciably. The music becomes a dense mess of conflict and resolution. This is just what every fusion fanatic loves! Organists Tom Coster and Richard Kermode, replacing the great Larry Young from the LDS sessions, provide double-barreled action. Drummer Michael Shrieve, who had also taken on a religious name by this time, pounds away like there is no afterlife. Santana and McLaughlin swap violent entreaties. Bassist Rauch is lost someplace in the mix, but you can feel his presence. Did I mention that McLaughlin and Santana are giving as good as they are getting? Are we delivered yet? Yes. Welcome to the glorious world of "Flame-Sky."

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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  • 1 Adam Carew // Mar 30, 2009 at 10:19 PM
    When will the next generation re-discover this album, these musicians, this music, and above all this track? Their apogee, no, actually their apotheosis. After 36 years of listening it still bears repeated listening as no other piece of music does.