Alice Coltrane & Carlos Santana – Illuminations

26 Aug

Alice Coltrane-Carlos Santana - Illuminations DS514p front

Back the 1970’s it was pretty hard going being a fan of Saantana’s as you never knew what style the next album would in, and this release is a perfect example of that. I’d heard some negative remarks regarding it so never bought it, there was always something i could could rely on coming out to empty my pockets.. And it wasn’t until i started work on this release that i finally got to hear it. (my views on music are no longer anywhere as limited by the way).

And to think i’ve spent all these years missing out on an album that will now get many, many plays.

First off, i agree it’s not what you’d expect from Santana, but that doesn’t make it bad. I think in general we are a little more accepting of artists experimenting nowadays, but whether a record label would have let him get away with some of his swings today is debatable.

If your a hard and fast fan of the harder side of Santana then this may not be for you, but if you liked some of Alice Coltrane’s solo work and reworkings of her late husbands work, especially with the orchestra, then this might just suit you down to the ground.

Anyway, there’s just not enough harp on albums, so this gets a thumbs up just for that.

Allmusic Overview & User Review

Release: DS514p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’



11 Responses to “Alice Coltrane & Carlos Santana – Illuminations”

  1. Owen Smith October 25, 2015 at 20:04 #

    I liked the first half of this. Very nice music, almost what is now call “ambient”, and something to slip into and relax. The quad is very good and suits the music, a good mix and well reproduced by Phoenix.

    Then the last two tracks go weird, for me really weird. There I am relaxing and chilling to the music, and it’s as if someone has thrown a brick through my front window. Totally jarring and rather different from the first half. Maybe that sort of thing was acceptable with LP having two different sides since there was a natural break, but it doesn’t work so well now.

  2. joeerand September 4, 2015 at 16:48 #

    This is an album I didn’t listen to when it was released, even though I was a Santana fan, but now I think it’s great! Maybe I was put off by the religious nature of the cover art, which now draws me in. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing your decode. It’s wonderful to lie in the dark and listen to it at the end of the day, because the music rolls in waves like an ocean…it’s not songform at all. I love the long pauses between phrases, so you can really enjoy certain chords, and Santana’s performance is very expressive without falling into any guitar hero cliches. It’s not like anything else he recorded. The percussion isn’t as present as on his pop albums, and at first I thought it sounded a bit muddy, but I think that works to the benefit of the music’s overall flow, rather than emphasis on groove. Thanks so much for this!
    In case anyone is thinking about this, there’s an opening chanted solo vocal, and then the rest of the album is instrumental…mostly Carlos with String Orchestra, harp, and a bit of rhythm.

  3. Beechwoods (@Beechwoods_) August 30, 2015 at 14:18 #

    I’m just listening to a Q8 transfer of this that I found ages ago and it is unexpectedly odd! Not your usual Santana – and the interplay between Coltrane’s jazz background (which comes across in the arrangements, the brass and the bass playing as well) makes for an interesting combination. It sounds like Soft Machine in places, which is a good thing!

    This is much more enjoyable than Alice’s solo stuff in my opinion. I always wondered what John saw in Alice from a musical perspective. Perhaps there’s more to her than I thought…

    Another one for the ‘new decodes when I have he money’ list I think!

  4. bigheadrascal August 29, 2015 at 03:21 #

    Back in the day I wouldn’t have bought this either, given the restrained expendable income of a young man. No doubt back in its time “Illuminations” probably disappointed many Carlos fans. Alice is not the “black magic woman” they might’ve expected. Some things in life are most worthwhile after a wait. Like fine wine, they (or the listeners) must age This is worth the wait and Phoenix delivers. Dare I say “discreteness”?

    • oxforddickie August 29, 2015 at 06:04 #

      Yes, age certainly makes you more open and receptive to music you’d once steer away from, i have played this a lot since decoding it, more so than his other albums.

      I’ve always shied away from using the ‘discrete’ word but there are times when it’s easy to forget that your listening to an SQ decode.

      • bigheadrascal August 29, 2015 at 07:43 #

        Don’t be modest. Phoenix has achieved virtual “discreteness”. You have brought forth and preserved what those folks back in the day at CBS labs envisioned…and I’ve coined the word “discreteness”. Be proud of what you have done! Ok, I’ll get off my soap box…for the time being.

        • oxforddickie August 29, 2015 at 08:03 #

          Thanks. The reason i don’t openly mention any form of “discreteness” is that it would give certain elements of the quad underground ammunition should they wish to take pop shots.

  5. jaypfunk August 26, 2015 at 21:02 #

    Great album!! I have the Q8 rip (I forget who did that one) and it is really good. Also have the vinyl rip by UMW but haven’t listened to that one yet.

    Can’t wait to hear what Phoenix has to offer for this. Tracks 2 and 4 are SMOKERS! Jack D’s drumming is killer on these 2.

    • oxforddickie August 26, 2015 at 23:31 #

      Interesting, possibly a review/comparison is in order?

      • jaypfunk August 28, 2015 at 21:13 #

        I will be doing that tonite. 🙂

  6. bayards August 26, 2015 at 13:42 #

    Sold! Just ordered mate.

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