Over looked and under rated, but not for why you'd think
Benito Vasquez | Naperville, Il | 11/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Unable to give this 3 1/2 stars, I lean towards 4. Those who rate this CD low miss the point. They're either unable to seperate Carlos' from his harder edged guitar laced rock music of old, or are "Supernatural" saturated comtemporaries who expect some current flash in the pan "star" to be present on any Santana music of value. Or, they simply didn't notice the title of this CD. I mean to say the song, "Vereda Tropical," is the worst song on the CD because it sounds like a marriacci night club band...um.. eh hem... THE CD IS NAMED "HAVANA MOON!!!" If anything this song is the most definitive- the perfect backdrop to the picturesque Havana Moon setting atop the water at night that graces the cover of the CD. Not to belabor the point, but this is a cover of a classic, old mexican ballad of a broken hearted man singing of his sorrow that only Santana could do as magnificently as he does on this CD. I guess remakes have to be of songs (or even movies come to think of it) that are not even old enough to be redone yet, or of songs so fresh on the minds of contemporary listeners that they even garner a listen. I chuckle at some of the more recent reviews of this album that seem to reak of desperation for the type of "Supernatural" commercialism that only comtemporaries or philistines would expect, indeed, demand of Santana music. Carlos does seem a little indecisive in that choosing, with the first half of the CD leaning in that direction, but coming off somewhat uninspired. "Lightnin" and "One With You," stick out more than the others in a positive light, though "Watch Your Step,' seems to be the type of song Carlos would put out to cater to those who want Santana songs with radio play appeal, with not so defining results (Actualy, the breadth of the music on this CD did put several of these songs on the radio, just not one particular type of station.) But that's where the latter half of this CD picks up the slack. Starting with "Ecquador," Carlos gives us tunes that tilt towards the theme that the title of the CD implies. True, Willie Nelson's accompaniment on "They All Went To Mexico," adds a little country flavor. But the blend of his voice and Carlos guitar gives Santana one of the CD's best songs, if not in his reportoirre. It's a magical blend with a can't sit still tempo that would have even the most reticent up and dancing were it played at a Jimmy Buffett concert, to offer merely an idea of the song's flavor. In between, "Tales of Kilimanjaro, Havana Moon," and "Daughter of the Night" string together one of the best runs of Santana music on any of his CDs, all offering an angle of Santana flavor that his eclectic taste buds have served over the years. If you want "Black Magic Woman" type Santana, buy "Abraxas," or a greatest hits collection. If you want a duet with Michelle Branche, you know where to go. But if you have any musical depth, insight, vision and appreciation for more than just commercial appeal, you might find this CD to be an undiscovered jewel, albeit not without some shortcomings. A number of well entrenched artists have assumed some license in their musical choices. Does one judge Brian Setzer's swing music based on his rockabilly background? Van Morrison's Irish flavored music based on hits like "Brown Eyed Girl? Well, guess what... Carlos is Mexican! Imagine, including a song like "Vereda Tropical" on one of his CDs. The nerve!"
A forgotten gem
Robert E. Feder | Hollis, NH USA | 12/03/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The middle section of Carlos Santana's career saw the creation of numerous forgettable albums. Havana Moon is the gem in the midst of this detritus. It is a totally unique amalgamation of a wide variety of American musical styles. Where else can you hear Booker T., Willie Nelson, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Jimmie Vaughn, Greg Brown, Chuck Berry, and Carlos Santana all on the same album? NOWHERE, MY FRIEND! And the best part is that all of the cuts are done well. This album presages Santana's current penchant for guest stars, but Havana Moon is done in a much more laid-back, mellow style than his current efforts. Get this, relax, remember, and wonder."