Love Devotion Surrender

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Love Devotion Surrender
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 22, 1973
RecordedOctober 1972, March 1973[1]
GenreJazz fusion
ProducerCarlos Santana & Mahavishnu John McLaughlin
Carlos Santana chronology
Love Devotion Surrender
John McLaughlin chronology
Birds of Fire
Love Devotion Surrender
Between Nothingness and Eternity

Love Devotion Surrender is an album released in 1973 by guitarists Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin, with the backing of their respective bands, Santana and The Mahavishnu Orchestra. The album was inspired by the teachings of Sri Chinmoy and intended as a tribute to John Coltrane. It contains two Coltrane compositions, two McLaughlin songs, and a traditional gospel song arranged by Santana and McLaughlin. It was certified Gold in 1973.

In 2003, Love Devotion Surrender was released on CD with alternate versions as bonus tracks.

Santana and McLaughlin toured in 1973 and 1974 to support the album.[2]


Both men were recent disciples of the guru Sri Chinmoy, and the title of the album echoes basic concepts of Chinmoy's philosophy, which focused on "love, devotion and surrender".[3][4] Chinmoy spoke about the album and the concept of surrender:

Unfortunately, in the West surrender is misunderstood. We feel that if we surrender to someone, he will then lord it over us....But from the spiritual point of view...when the finite enters in the Infinite, it becomes the Infinite all at once. When a tiny drop enters into the ocean, we cannot trace the drop. It becomes the mighty ocean.[5]

For both men the album came at a transitional moment spiritually and musically:[6] Love Devotion Surrender was a "very public pursuit of their spiritual selves."[7] Carlos Santana was moving from rock toward jazz and fusion,[8] experiencing a "spiritual awakening",[9] while McLaughlin was about to experience the break-up of the Mahavishnu Orchestra after being criticized by other band members.[10][11] Santana had been a fan of McLaughlin,[12] and McLaughlin had introduced Santana to Sri Chinmoy in 1971, at which time the guru bestowed the name "Devadip" on him, and the two had started playing and recording together in 1972.[1] According to his biographer Marc Shapiro, Santana had much to learn from McLaughlin: "He would sit for hours, enthralled at the new ways to play that McLaughlin was teaching him," and his new spirituality had its effect on the music: "the feeling was that Carlos's newfound faith was present in every groove."[13]


The first track, "A Love Supreme", is a version of the Coltrane composition "Acknowledgement" from the 1964 landmark album A Love Supreme. It features McLaughlin and Santana, both playing electric guitar, in an extended, improvised trading of bars. For the most part, Santana is panned to the left channel and McLaughlin to the right.[6] As with the original, toward the end a chant of "A love supreme" is heard. (Only Armando Peraza is credited as a singer.)[original research?]

"Naima" is another Coltrane composition, played on acoustic guitar. First appearing in 1959 on Coltrane's Giant Steps, it is a gentle song played in a straightforward manner.[6]

"The Life Divine" again returns to Coltrane's A Love Supreme, opening with the chanted phrase "the love divine."[1] The song's first part is extensive, high-tempo improvisation by Santana, alternating between quick phrases and long, sustained notes (including one that runs from 3:29 to 4:03). Midway through the song and introduced by the "life divine" chant, McLaughlin takes over with mostly high-speed staccato bursts and riffs. The chant returns, incorporating "it's yours and mine", and Larry Young's organ, with percussion, provide the outro.[original research?]

"Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord" is a 16-minute-long track based on the traditional gospel song. The arrangement was credited to Santana and McLaughlin but Bob Palmer in Rolling Stone wrote that the arrangement is close enough to Lonnie Liston Smith's "to be described as a cop".[6] Smith's arrangement was recorded in 1970 when he worked with Pharoah Sanders, who had recorded and worked closely with Coltrane. After the slow introductory statement (the part which resembles Smith's arrangement), most of the piece consists of soloing over two chords accompanied by a loping bass and Latin percussion. Of Larry Young's organ contribution here, Paul Stump, in Go Ahead John, wrote: "with its overlapping flurries of triplets, [it] is a moment of pure genius, worthy of mention in its own right, a musical equivalent of a swarm of surreally coloured butterflies."[1] The track closes with a return to the slow introductory statement.

The final track, "Meditation", is a "pretty but light McLaughlin composition"[6] that McLaughlin had previously recorded as a solo for exclusive use by the New York radio station WNEW-FM. McLaughlin plays piano, and Santana the acoustic guitar, on Love Devotion Surrender's version of the tune.[1]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideB−[15]
The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide[16]
Rolling Stone(not rated)[17]

Criticism of the compositions and their execution is varied. In addition to noting the resemblance of "Let Us Go" to Smith's arrangement, Bob Palmer referred to the "superficial treatments" of Coltrane material,[18] while Paul Stump, author of Go Ahead John, a McLaughlin biography, is negative about the album's execution and direction, saying it was, "in retrospect, a spiritually-hobbled album", criticizing Santana's tone and McLaughlin's "technophiliac tendencies" and "electronic gimmickry", and a "plink-plonk conga-heavy foursquare vamp all too typical of Santana" in "A Love Supreme".[1] Thom Jurek is much more positive, praising, for instance, "The Life Divine" as "insanely knotty yet intervallically transcendent."[14]

Fans of Santana were, apparently, disappointed; according to Thom Jurek, Love Devotion Surrender was a "hopelessly misunderstood record in its time by Santana fans",[14] though Marc Shapiro's biography of Santana suggests otherwise.[19]

Thom Jurek, reviewing the album for AllMusic, praises the album highly: "After three decades, Love Devotion Surrender still sounds completely radical and stunningly, movingly beautiful."[14] Robert Palmer, writing for Rolling Stone, is ambivalent about the album, calling it "loud and insistent...depend[ent] on monochord drones and simple modes for its structure and on sheer screaming force for much of its effect." He thinks more highly of Carlos Santana's playing than of McLaughlin's, which he suggests lacks feeling and relies on technicality: "Here, at his most inspired, McLaughlin is exhilarating if a bit monolithic."[6] Later, in a positive review of Santana's Welcome (1973), Palmer said the album "was simply a series of ecstatic jams on Coltrane and Coltrane-influenced material."[18]

Many reviewers praise organist Larry Young. Thom Jurek says Young is the gel that holds the two very different guitar players together;[14] Robert Palmer says "that the sensitive organ solos on Love Devotion Surrender were the best things on that album."[20]


In 2001, Bill Laswell, responsible for remixes of albums by Bob Marley and Miles Davis, mixed and remixed excerpts of Santana's Illuminations and Love Devotion Surrender,[21] on an album called Divine Light.[22]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
1."A Love Supreme"John Coltrane7:48
3."The Life Divine"John McLaughlin9:30
Side two
4."Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord"traditional15:45
Total length:38:44
CD version bonus tracks
6."A Love Supreme" (take 2)Coltrane7:24
7."Naima" (take 4)Coltrane2:51



  • Mahavishnu John McLaughlin – producer
  • Carlos Santana – producer
  • Glen Kolotkin – engineer
  • Ashok – album design & cover photo
  • Pranavananda – photography
  • Sri Chinmoy – essay


Year Chart Position
1973 Pop Albums (U.S.) 14[23]
Pop Albums (UK) 7
Kent Music Report (AUS)[24] 10


  1. ^ a b c d e f Stump, Paul (2000). Go ahead John: the music of John McLaughlin. SAF Publishing. pp. 61–65. ISBN 978-0-946719-24-2.
  2. ^ Phil Freeman (2018-03-07). "Remembering When Santana Made Amazing Jazz-Rock". Vinyl Me, Please. Retrieved 2019-10-19.
  3. ^ Kilgannon, Corey (2007-10-13). "Sri Chinmoy, Athletic Spiritual Leader, Dies at 76". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
  4. ^ Chinmoy, Sri (1983). Songs of the Soul. Aum Publications. pp. 39ff. ISBN 978-0-88497-738-4.
  5. ^ Quoted in Reynolds, Simon; Joy Press (1996). The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion, and Rock 'n' Roll. Harvard University Press. p. 183. ISBN 978-0-674-80273-5.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Palmer, Robert (1973-08-02). "Rev. of Love Devotion Surrender". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-06-23.[dead link]
  7. ^ Prown, Pete; Harvey P. Newquist; Jon F. Eiche (1997). Legends of Rock Guitar: The Essential Reference of Rock's Greatest Guitarists. Hal Leonard. p. 138. ISBN 978-0-7935-4042-6.
  8. ^ Woodstra, Chris; John Bush; Stephen Thomas Erlewine (2007). All Music Guide Required Listening: Classic Rock. Hal Leonard. p. 1324. ISBN 978-0-87930-917-6.
  9. ^ Perna, Alan Di (September 2007). "Peace, Love and Uberjamming". Guitar World. 28 (9): 45–46. ISSN 1045-6295.
  10. ^ Snyder-Scumpy, Patrick; Frank DeLigio (November 1973). "John McLaughlin & The Mahavishnu Orchestra: Two Sides to Every Satori". Crawdaddy. Archived from the original on 2012-12-08. Retrieved 2009-06-23.
  11. ^ Menn, Don (1992). Secrets from the Masters. Hal Leonard. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-87930-260-3.
  12. ^ Fusilli, Jim (2004-02-12). "The Mystical Journey of Carlos Santana". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
  13. ^ Shapiro, Marc (4 March 2002), Carlos Santana: Back on Top, St. Martin's Press, pp. 146–, ISBN 978-0-312-28852-5, retrieved 23 August 2017
  14. ^ a b c d e Jurek, Thom. "Love Devotion Surrender". AllMusic. Retrieved 25 June 2009.
  15. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: S". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 12, 2019 – via
  16. ^ Swenson, J., ed. (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. US: Random House/Rolling Stone. p. 135. ISBN 0-394-72643-X.
  17. ^ Palmer, Robert (2 August 1973). "John McLaughlin: Love Devotion Surrender : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 30 April 2008. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  18. ^ a b Palmer, Robert (1974-01-03). "Rev. of Santana, Welcome". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-06-23.[dead link]
  19. ^ Shapiro, Marc (2002). Carlos Santana: Back on Top. Macmillan. p. 148. ISBN 978-0-312-28852-5. Carlos was thrilled when feedback indicated this [sic] his old Santana fans were finding much to like in the music as well
  20. ^ Palmer, Robert (1974-02-14). "Rev. of Larry Young, Lawrence of Newark". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-06-23.[dead link]
  21. ^ "DiscsEtc: Music CDs". The Independent. 2001-09-16. p. 14.
  22. ^ Broecking, Christian (2001-07-11). "Instant Karma: Sci-Fi-Jazz und andere Fusionen - Barbecue im Raumschiff". Die Tageszeitung. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
  23. ^ "Love Devotion Surrender - Charts & Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2009-06-25.
  24. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 186. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.