Jump to content

Abraxas (album)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fantastic realist painting by Mati Klarwein depicting a winged, tattooed angel Gabriel astride a conga drum, pointing to a Hebrew Aleph symbol, with a dark-skinned and naked "Mary" surrounded by images of fertility
Album cover from Annunciation by Mati Klarwein
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 23, 1970 (1970-09-23)
RecordedApril 17 – May 2, 1970
LanguageEnglish, Spanish
Santana chronology
Santana III
Singles from Abraxas
  1. "Black Magic Woman"
    Released: 1970
  2. "Oye Cómo Va"
    Released: 1971
  3. "Hope You're Feeling Better"
    Released: 1971
  4. "Samba Pa Ti"
    Released: 1973

Abraxas is the second studio album by Latin rock band Santana. It was released on September 23, 1970, by Columbia Records and became the band's first album to reach number one in the United States.[1]



The title of the album originates from a line in Hermann Hesse's 1919 book Demian, quoted on the album's back cover: "We stood before it and began to freeze inside from the exertion. We questioned the painting, berated it, made love to it, prayed to it: We called it mother, called it whore and slut, called it our beloved, called it Abraxas..."[2]



Carlos Santana had been interested in Fleetwood Mac's leader and songwriter Peter Green, having seen him perform at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, and decided to cover the band's song "Black Magic Woman". (Both had also been influenced as guitarists by B.B. King.) The band added a cover of Gábor Szabó's instrumental "Gypsy Queen" to the end.[3]: 34–35  "Oye Como Va" was a hit by Tito Puente in the early 1960s and the group played it live regularly, as they realized it was good for audiences to dance to.[3]: 35 

"Incident at Neshabur" was co-written by Santana and his friend Alberto Gianquinto, who played piano on the track. Gregg Rolie played the other keyboards, contrasting with Gianquinto's jazz-influenced style. It ran through various time and key signatures.[3]: 36 

The instrumental, "Samba Pa Ti" ("Samba for You"), was written by Santana when he saw a jazz saxophonist performing in the street outside his apartment.[2]: par. 5[3]: 36  It was later covered by José Feliciano, who added lyrics, and also by Angélique Kidjo, who put lyrics in Yoruba, on her album Oyo. It is also one of the tracks featured in Nick Hornby's book 31 Songs.[4]

The first three songs on side one segue into each other, creating a 14-minute, 28-second mini-suite.

Cover art


The album cover features the 1961 painting Annunciation by German-French painter Mati Klarwein.[5] According to the artist, it was one of the first paintings he did after relocating to New York City. Carlos Santana reportedly noticed it in a magazine and asked that it be on the cover of the band's upcoming album.[6] On the back of the record sleeve the cover art is just credited to 'MATI'. It is now considered a classic of rock album covers.[5][7][8] Klarwein went on to design album artwork for many notable artists, including Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Gregg Allman.

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideC+[10]
Rolling Stone(favorable)[11]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[12]
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music[13]

In 2003, the album was ranked No. 205 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time,[14] at No. 207 on the 2012 revision of the list,[15] and then again at No. 334 in its 2020 release.[16] In 2000, it appeared at No. 202 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums.[17] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[18] In 2015, the album was listed among Billboard's 50 Essential Latin Albums of the 50 Past Years.[19]

Rock critic Robert Christgau, in one of his capsule reviews in The Village Voice, at the time of the album's release, gave it a rating of only C+, which denotes "a not disreputable performance, most likely a failed experiment or a pleasant piece of hackwork".[10]



Abraxas was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in their National Recording Registry in 2015.[20]

Track listing


Original release

Side one
1."Singing Winds, Crying Beasts" (Instrumental)Michael Carabello4:51
2."Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen"Peter Green/Gábor Szabó5:24
3."Oye Cómo Va"Tito Puente4:17
4."Incident at Neshabur" (Instrumental)Alberto Gianquinto, Carlos Santana4:58
Side two
1."Se a Cabó"José Areas2:50
2."Mother's Daughter"Gregg Rolie4:25
3."Samba Pa Ti" (Instrumental)Santana4:45
4."Hope You're Feeling Better"Rolie4:10
5."El Nicoya"Areas1:30

1998 bonus tracks

1998 remastered edition
10."Se a Cabó" (Live at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England, April 18, 1970)[21] (1998 edition)3:47
11."Toussaint L'Overture" (Live at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England, April 18, 1970) (1998 edition)4:52
12."Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen" (Live at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England, April 18, 1970) (1998 edition)4:57


Santana in 1971



Additional personnel

  • Rico Reyes – backing vocal on "Oye Como Va", backing vocal and percussion on "El Nicoya"
  • Alberto Gianquinto – piano on "Incident at Neshabur"
  • Fred Catero - Producer[25]
  • John Fiore, David Brown – engineer
  • Bob Venosa – graphics
  • MATI – illustrations
  • Marian Schmidt, Joan Chase - photography

Release history

  • In 1990, CBS/Sony published a remastered edition on Audio CD (UPC: 7464301302).
  • In 1991, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab released a remastered version on their Ultradisc (24K) Gold CD (UDCD 552).
  • In 1997, ARS (Audiophile record service Joerg Kessler) of Germany, released a 180 gram 100% virgin vinyl pressing mastered from the original analog tape. It is (Pallas) Germany pressed. Catalog # Ars 32032.
  • In 1998, Sony published a remastered version, which included three previously unreleased live tracks: "Se a Cabó", "Toussaint L'Overture" and "Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen", recorded at the Royal Albert Hall on April 18, 1970.
  • In 1998, SME records in Japan, part of Sony Music, also released the remastered version as an SACD. This disc is stereo only, and furthermore, it is a single layer SACD, which means that ordinary CD players will not play it. This disc contains the same bonus tracks as the ordinary 1998 remastered CD.
  • In 2008, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab released a remastered version on their Ultradisc II (24K) Gold CD (UDCD 775) & GAIN 2 Ultra Analog LP 180g Series (MFSL305).
  • In 2016 Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab released a new, limited edition, 45 rpm 2-LP box set of Abraxas called the 1 step (UD1S). The set was limited to 2500 copies worldwide and involved a process where several of the traditional steps in making a vinyl record were bypassed in order to get a more original sound. It is mastered using a 1/4" / 15 IPS analog master to DSD 256 to analog console to lathe.[26]


Chart (1970–1974) Peak
Australian Albums (Kent Music Report)[27] 1
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[28] 3
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[29] 3
Finnish Albums (The Official Finnish Charts)[30] 2
French Albums (SNEP)[31] 7
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[32] 4
Italian Albums (Musica e Dischi)[33] 4
Japanese Albums (Oricon)[34] 7
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[35] 3
UK Albums (OCC)[36] 7
US Billboard 200[37] 1
Chart (2013) Peak
UK Rock & Metal Albums (OCC)[38] 25


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[39] 3× Platinum 300,000^
France (SNEP)[40] Platinum 300,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[41] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[42] 5× Platinum 5,000,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

See also



  1. ^ Brill, Mark. ""Abraxas"—Santana (1970)" (PDF). Library of Congress. p. 2. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 17, 2020. Retrieved December 30, 2023.
  2. ^ a b Reiff, Corbin (September 23, 2015). "45 Years Ago: Santana Deliver a Latin Rock Masterpiece, 'Abraxas'". Ultimate Classic Rock. Townsquare Media. Archived from the original on June 29, 2016. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
    ^ par. 5: 'Samba Pa Ti' was conceived in New York City on a Sunday afternoon. [...] I opened the window I saw this man in the street, he was drunk and he had a saxophone and a bottle of booze in his back pocket. And I kept looking at him because he kept struggling with himself. He couldn't make up his mind which one to put in his mouth first, the saxophone or the bottle and I immediately heard a song. [...] I wrote the whole thing right there.
  3. ^ a b c d Weinstein, Norman (September 3, 2009). "Costs of Fame and Fortune". Carlos Santana: A Biography (e-book). Greenwood Biographies. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-Clio/Greenwood. ISBN 978-0-313-35421-2. OCLC 615626624. Archived from the original on December 30, 2023. Retrieved December 29, 2023.
  4. ^ Hornby, Nick (February 27, 2003). 31 Songs. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-101340-4. OCLC 1028381794.
  5. ^ a b Schnabel, Tom (May 27, 2011). "Artists You Should Know: Mati Klarwein". KCRW. Archived from the original on September 29, 2020. Retrieved December 30, 2023.
  6. ^ Schott, M. (2002). "Santana - Abraxas". The Album Cover Art Gallery. Archived from the original on June 26, 2013. Retrieved December 30, 2023.
  7. ^ Lynch, Joe (August 7, 2023). "The 100 Best Album Covers of All Time". Billboard. Archived from the original on August 10, 2023. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  8. ^ Henderson, Alex. Abraxas at AllMusic. Retrieved 2005-09-15.
  9. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: S". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 0-8991-9026-X. Archived from the original on October 6, 2020. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  10. ^ Nash, Jim (December 24, 1970). "Santana Abraxas > Album Review". Rolling Stone. No. 73. Archived from the original on January 16, 2007. Retrieved July 25, 2006.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Larkin, Colin (2006). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780195313734.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-531373-4. Archived from the original on December 28, 2022.
  13. ^ Levy, Joe; Van Zandt, Steven (2006) [2005]. "205 | Abraxas - Santana". Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (3rd ed.). London: Turnaround. ISBN 1-932958-61-4. OCLC 70672814. Archived from the original on November 6, 2007. Retrieved March 9, 2006.
  14. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 2012. Retrieved September 16, 2019.
  15. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. September 22, 2020. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  16. ^ Colin Larkin (2000). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). London: Virgin Books. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-753-50493-2. OCLC 441098633.
  17. ^ Dimery, Robert, ed. (March 23, 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Michael Lydon, contributor (Revised and Updated ed.). Universe. ISBN 978-0-789-32074-2. OCLC 1037461047.
  18. ^ "The 50 Greatest Latin Albums of the Past 50 Years". Billboard. September 17, 2015. Archived from the original on June 12, 2022. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  19. ^ "National Recording Registry Recognizes "Mack the Knife," Motown and Mahler". Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. March 23, 2016. Archived from the original on March 30, 2016. Retrieved December 31, 2023.
  20. ^ "Santana - Abraxas". Discogs. Archived from the original on October 26, 2022. Retrieved December 31, 2023.
  21. ^ Santana – Abraxas (Media notes).
  22. ^ Fisher, Connie (April 1984). "Michael Carabello - Return To The Jungle". Modern Drummer. Vol. 8, no. 4. Archived from the original on August 7, 2020. Retrieved December 31, 2023.
  23. ^ Santana, Carlos; Kahn, Ashley (November 4, 2014). The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light. New York: Little, Brown. ISBN 978-0-316-24491-6. OCLC 909814329.
  24. ^ "Santana – Abraxas (Master Release)". Discogs. Archived from the original on January 30, 2023. Retrieved December 31, 2023.
  25. ^ "Santana - Abraxas". Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab. Archived from the original on March 6, 2023. Retrieved December 31, 2023.
  26. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  27. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 3735". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 6, 2024.
  28. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Santana – Abraxas" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 6, 2024.
  29. ^ Pennanen, Timo (2006). Sisältää hitin – levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972 (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Kustannusosakeyhtiö Otava. ISBN 978-951-1-21053-5.
  30. ^ "Tous les Albums classés par Artiste". InfoDisc (in French). Archived from the original on February 10, 2021. Retrieved June 19, 2012. Select Santana from the menu, then press OK.
  31. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Santana – Abraxas" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved June 6, 2024.
  32. ^ "Classifiche". Musica e Dischi (in Italian). Retrieved June 6, 2024. Set Tipo on Album, then in the Artista field, type Santana and click cerca.
  33. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005 (in Japanese). Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
  34. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Santana – Abraxas". Hung Medien. Retrieved June 6, 2024.
  35. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 6, 2024.
  36. ^ "Santana Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved June 6, 2024.
  37. ^ "Official Rock & Metal Albums Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 6, 2024.
  38. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Santana – Abraxas". Music Canada.
  39. ^ "French album certifications – Santana – Abraxas" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique.
  40. ^ "British album certifications – Santana – Abraxas". British Phonographic Industry.
  41. ^ "American album certifications – Santana – Abraxas". Recording Industry Association of America.

Further reading