Take it from us: including a “collectable wall hanger” is no substitute for a proper set of sleevenotes outlining the provenance of these early Santana recordings. We know that the material on these three discs (helpfully if not-strictly- factually demarcated into Latin Grooves, Santana Blues and Improvisational Jams) is split between live tracks claimed to be from the Fillmore in 1968 and Pacific Recording Studios sessions in 1969 – but a bit of background might have helped. What annotations do exist here may not be entirely trustworthy either. The boiling slow blues, As The Years Go By, is attributed to Carlos Santana as songwriter when it’s patently the Albert King staple As The Years Go Passing By, written by Don Robey. Meanwhile, Paul Curcio, producer of the studio tracks, bags a heap of songwriting credits for what amount to little more than interminable one-chord jams.
We cleave to no one in our idolatry of the incendiary late-60s Santana, but this grab-bag of indeterminate pre-debut album scraps – including fledgling versions of Jin-Go-Lo-Ba, Soul Sacrifice and Persuasion – is hardly the best showcase, even if the band can’t help intermittently lighting the blue touchpaper over the course of a small eternity of jamming.