21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2000
It's unfortunate that Santana is finally getting acclaim for what's essentially a mediocre CD (in terms of his earlier work), i.e. "Supernatural." "Zebop!" is, on the other hand, one of his most overlooked albums. The instrumental work here is very strong, and the quality of the tracks is unbeatable--it's definitely one of those albums you can listen to all the way through and then keep on playing it over and over again. What's interesting here is that Santana definitely moved away from some of the styles which he trademarked in his early, and excellent, albums like "Abraxas" and "Caravanserai" without resorting to bland top-40 style cliches. "Zebop!" is definitely among my top 3 or 4 favorite Santana albums.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2004
This is one of the Santana band's finest albums!It's the ideal blend of the percussive,psychedelic funky latin jazz/rock that Carlos Santana has made so famous!All of those bases are covered here,sometimes together as on "Searchin" and other times on songs like the grooving "E Papa Re".Overall 'Zebop!' also marks a return from late 70's stabs at progressive rock and disco back to Santana's classic sound,marked by "The Sensitve Kind",a JJ Cale cover very similar to the bands Woodstock-era radio hits of yore.The bluesy instrumental version of the standard "I Love You Much Too Much" shows that while strong tunesmiths in their own right Santana can TEAR IT UP on covers!"Brightest Star" is a very soulful ballad showcasing some KILLER organ work and a
great vocal arrangement.
"Changes" and "Winning" are both catchy covers given
a little dose of latin-rock even as the firey instrumentals
"Primera Invasion" and the frenetic closering chant "Hannibal" are just shattering fabulous!Ditto for "American Gypsy"-noting that all four tracks wouldv'e fit perfectly on any of
Santana's first trio of albums.Over twelve songs there is no filler,no weak songs and (as always) outstanding production. And happily it lacks the abundance of filler the permeated albums like 'Marathon' and the follow up 'Shango!'.So for those interested in a peak at the early 80's-era Santana,this album
is the best choice by far,in addition to rating very high in
terms of quality within his entire catalog!There should be nothing keeping music fans away from this!
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2003
Most of the other reviews focus on the fantastic, must-have content of Zebop (eg; Tales of Kilimanjaro, Primera Invasion) so I won't dwell on this.
The purpose of this review is tell Santana fans that this version is the most definitive available at this moment in our world on cd. This cd has the correct red cover (not pink!), doesn't have the ugly "Compact Disc, Digitally Mastered Analog Recording" symbol in the bottom right hand corner, contains all the lyrics in the booklet plus a photo - and even sports a clear spine!
If you're like me and you appreciate authentic reproductions of LP artwork etc., then this is the version for you. Stay away from the ugly American 1980s cd releases (I mean they were pressed in the 80s). It seems that on www.amazon.co.uk, most of the Santana catalogue bar Caravanserai was released in the last couple of years.
By the way, this review will also show up under the pink Zebop 80s release for some crazy reason - DO NOT BUY THAT ONE!!!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2002
For all those millions of listeners who enjoyed
"Supernatural" "Zebop" sounds like a perfect
next step on Santana discography.It may not be
-with a reason-as highly rated as the 3-4 first
album of the artist (santana,abraxas,amigos etc)
but on the other hand the production and the
sound of the group is more contemporary for the
modern listener.The group all together is simply
breathtaking once more.The two covers"changes"
(cat stevens)and "sensitive kind" (j.j.cale)
are typical Santana adding this soulfull latin-
rock feeling on clasics as we heard it before on
songs like "black magic woman" and "evil ways".
"I love you much too much" is another great
guitar melody instrumental following the path
of "europe","samba pa ti","moonflower".
Songs like "searching","winning","over and over"
could very well be the "smooth" alike singles
of the album.
The instrumentals like "primera invasion" are
an example of the accurate,virtuoso,latin-rock
sound of the band as we know it through all 70's.
To cut a long story short.
If you love "Supernatural" you"ll enjoy "Zebop".
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2011
1978 to 1988 marks a decade of Santana's "album oriented rock" stage, highly influenced by Bill Graham who had convinced Carlos that he must return to the ethnic rock fan base he had commanded. Carlos and band (in various incarnations) had released three stunning debut rock albums, then three equally stunning (but commercially only selling to the jazz public) fusion jazz albums, and finally, under Graham's management, and three commercially successful ethnic rock albums (AMIGOS, FESTIVAL, MOONFLOWER) through 1977. During that period Carlos also contributed some "solo" efforts with the legendary Buddy Miles, John McLaughlin, and Alice Coltrane, all of which are superb albums. Now fully in the second half of a decade being known as "Devadip" Carlos Santana, under the tutelage of guru Sri Chimnoy, Carlos and his wife Deborah would begin to grow weary of Chinmoy's unreasonable impositions (including his refusal to allow them to start a family), and Carlos was beginning to trust more and more in his manager, Bill Graham. By 1982 Carlos and Deborah will have dissolved their 10-year relationship with The Self Realization Fellowship and "Devadip" would be gone forever. 1978 to 1988, as a decade of music will have its ups and downs and the next decade after that will lead to the astounding rebirth of Santana with SUPERNATURAL. For these next series of albums, the "rule of three" (trilogies of album styles) will cease to be noted on Santana's music (even though it will rise up again with SUPERNATURAL, SHAMAN, and ALL THAT I AM).
Under this umbrella I will review the following albums in full and make note here of the "disposables", albums that should only be purchased if you are a complete collector of Santana music. INNER SECRETS (1978), MARATHON (1979), ZEBOP! (1981), SHANGO (1982), HAVANA MOON (1983, a "solo" Carlos Santana project), BLUES FOR SALVADOR (1987, another "solo" project), all worthy albums, some more than others, can be fulfilling to the Santana fan. ZEBOP! stands head and shoulders above the rest in total value and is sometimes compared favorably to ABRAXAS in content and style. In between some of these, ONENESS - SILVER DREAMS GOLDEN REALITY (1979 "solo" Carlos Santana project influenced by Chimnoy), SWING OF DELIGHT (1980, a Carlos project with jazz greats Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter, Harvey Mason, and Tony Williams, and also heavily influenced by the guru), are both good but non-essential albums except for the completist collector. BEYOND APPEARANCES (1985), and FREEDOM (1987) are Santana band albums which are "poor" by Santana standards. 1988's VIVA SANTANA! is a three disc compilation album of remixed Santana's best from the 60's, 70's, and early 80's, previously unreleased material, and live performances. The set includes the rare 1967 studio single "Ballin'" which many fans adore. It reflects the band's early influence from Jimi Hendrix and is a terrific track to download from Amazon if you do not wish to buy the set. I recommend the set to the person who has a number of Santana albums from this period and does not wish to invest more. I would certainly NOT recommend FREEDOM or BEYOND APPEARANCES to anyone as the two albums are fairly maudlin for Santana productions and were it not for Bill Graham stepping in again, and for the success of BLUES FOR SALVADOR, Santana might have fizzled out completely. Luckily, 1990 would be a turn-around year for Carlos and band, and 1999 would be the cherry on top of a Grammy Award winning career!
I find it contemptuous that Allmusic Guide gives ZEBOP! an insulting two and a half stars. In fact, quite a few trade reviews have been unnecessarily critical of this album. Thankfully there have been some good professional reviews but even Rolling Stone saw fit to assign two out of 5 stars. Now here is why the album actually deserves 5 full stars! I am not just a fascist Santana fan, rabid with glorification for all things Santana. I can point out with unbiased criticism the bands weaker output and qualify poor entries in otherwise solid albums. INNER SECRETS and MARATHON definitely had weak moments and BEYOND APPEARANCES and FREEDOM contain little to get excited about (leave it to Rolling Stone to give FREEDOM higher marks than ZEBOP!). The first thing to identify about ZEBOP! is the commercial attraction. We all know sales do not necessarily dictate who good a work of art music may or may not be, but it should be pointed out that ZEBOP! is the first Santana album since AMIGOS to hit the top 10 and in some respects, ZEBOP! is the better overall album! ZEBOP! charted #9 on Billboard and even #10 on the jazz charts (despite the fact that it is more of a progressive rock album than jazz). One hit single charted to #2 ("Winning"), two overall in the top 40 and four in the top 100 singles, so it did find commercial success. Five of the 12 songs on the album are not Santana originals, however these covers are more Santanafied than any of the covers on INNER SECRETS and most of them are equal to the fantastic "She's Not There" from MOONFLOWER.
Some notes on the covers:
There is much diversity on cover song choices, Santana had to dig deep for some of these and none of them are rendered in any form other than with the elegant art that we have come to respect from Carlos & Company. "Changes" is a Cat Stevens classic lifted from Teaser & The Firecat. "Over And Over" is a composition by little-known spiritual songwriter Rick Meyers out of Colorado. How Santana came across this one is a pure mystery. Then there is Argent guitarist and composer Russ Ballard who provides the #2 hit single "Winning", the only real "pop" entry on the album and an easy enough song to like, no great mystery why it charted so well. J.J. Cale's immaculate "Sensitive Kind" receives the royal treatment by Carlos' canny guitar work and mystery to me why it only charted to #56 and not #1. Finally the real catcher in the fold is the instrumental version of "I Love You Much Too Much", rendered into a samba that is so gorgeous it will break your heart without any words! I Love You Much Too Much is actually a 1940's song by The Andrews Sisters! Go Figure! I am telling you now, the original sounded nothing like this! The melody is there, that's it!
ZEBOP! charges out of the gate with "Changes (IV)" by Cat Stevens, with obligatory acoustic guitar and the first thing you will notice is that Santana's three man Latin percussive unit is back in the saddle on this album. The next thing you will note is that the backing vocals are much more harmonious than at any time previous. Alex Ligertwood's lead vocals are better than on MARATHON, more Santana-esque, and after the initial verses, acoustic guitar is traded in for Carlos' trademark electricification. "E Papa Ré" by Carlos and band immediately offers up a jungle book story worthy of Kipling. Somewhat silly lyrics aside, the band, percussive unit, and Carlos strike a home run with rumba vocals, piano and Carlos' guaranteed inflections. When he takes off at the end of the song with his soaring wail we love so much you know you are in for a treat harkening back to the core Santana rock albums. And that is where we must identify that there are going to be some comparisons to ABRAXAS and I have no qualms with doing so! 3rd track, "Primera Invasion" is a rollicking Santana guitar instrumental that drives the album into percussion by all three men (yes Armando Peraza is back leading the unit) and drummer Graham Lear proving his mettle as a worthy successor to Michael Shrieve. "Searchin'", by Carlos and Ligertwood is the first of two pop numbers assembled on side one of the vinyl disc (songs 1 thru 6) and were it not for the outstanding percussive backing and the instrumental second half it would have been a flop but Carlos rises up to carry us out of the song with two minutes of high voltage work. "Over And Over" is a piano led ballad with signature Carlos leads through the middle and end of the song. Side One ends with the hit "Winning" a catchy percussive and 70's guitar styled back tracking. Ligertwood delivers a nice rendition of the Russ Ballard classic rock performance. The only thing missing is a Rod Argent electric piano solo.
Side Two of the record, tracks 7 - 12, is where the album goes from a 4-star album to 5-star sensation! First of all, you cannot help but compare it to ABRAXAS in style and composition, and it is difficult to not think Carlos did this on purpose. The opener "Tales Of Kilimanjaro" draws huge inspiration from Singing Winds Crying Beasts which opened ABRAXAS. It is a beautiful track with glorious guitar leads, nice jazzy piano, Africanized percussion, and shimmering high-hats from Lear. The song naturally leads into JJ Cale's "Sensitive Kind" which Carlos renders into a new Black Magic Woman with samba rhythm and 2nd guitar. Ligertwood delivers the lyrics soul-fully blues, and Carlos takes off on blues guitar leads from the soul. And, just like Black Magic Woman segues into Gypsy Queen, "Sensitive Kind" segues into "American Gypsy", a new rework in a similar style, this time with piano salsa, congas, timbales, and soaring exchanges between Carlos and organ man Richard Baker. Now, if you haven't gotten your fill of Samba Pa Ti from the album we are comparing, take the Andrews Sisters' "I Love You Much Too Much" and throw away the Andrews Sisters and the swing band, and now slow it down to a samba tempo and add in Carlos on crying blues guitar extraordinaire and you will have one of the best musical compositions to ever close your eyes to. And just like in Samba Pa Ti, the tempo change in the middle will go to a brisk walk to a sprint and back again after some Spanish riffs and measures. "Brightest Star" written by Ligertwood and Carlos is pure blues ballad. Again Carlos lets his fingers wail out a Europa guitar haunting and vibrant and Alex delivers some of his best ever vocals. The backing vocals are so subtle you might not notice them at first but they sit right back there like a Motown studio session keeping that sweet love just right out of reach. The song ends with all the heartbreak expected from a terrific blues song. The finale of the album is a chant called "Hannibal" with Carlos laying down leads over the entire rhythm section, all three percussion men, Lear on drums and high-hats, and Margens solid bass lines. The harmony vocal chants are there for effect and not lyrics, the sound forming an expressive instrumentation of its own until the coda with Carlos wailing his way into the next life.
The long and the short of it all is simple. If you do not simply love ZEBOP! you are no fan of Santana!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2001
Having read all the reviews now, for all the "80's era" Santana albums, it is time to speak up, and Zebop! is the place to do it. This old reviewer has been collecting Santana band/solo records on vinyl and cd since he walked out on the stage at woodstock. Glory halleluja! that the "Fillmore" stuff was finally released on a Cd recently. But why all the bad press over his 80's decade material? I'll tell you why, because it's not The Santana Band sound, nor is it the eclectic jazz of the Caravanserai/Borboletta/Mahivishnu period, nor even like his recent 90's experimentation. I've been reading "bad" reviews of his albums, and they all boil down to one thing: it depends on the ear of the listener. Carlos Santana himself does not record material for YOU. He plays for his own inner voices and hopes it touches yours. Carlos is and always has been an experiment in the elemental forces of sound. "Poppy"? You may think so, but I don't think that word ever entered his mind. Zebop! is one of the best showcases for everything that is and ever was "Santana". It is AS GOOD as Abraxas, if not better because it is more polished. Would you purchase a diamond in the rough? I don't think so. Yes the first three Santana albums were a mark in music history. Great is too weak a word for them. Then his forward momentum into the Jazz/Fusion 70's period even firmed up more what we all knew about Santana, the man and his fellow musicians. Carlos has always surrounded himself with top-notch talent, including his vocalists who are used for the "sound" he wishes at any particular moment, and Alex on this one, Shango, Marathon, etc. was the sound he wanted. If you pay close attention to Zebop!, you will note that it is much structured (on the "second side") to be like Abraxas, beginning with the african percussive "tales" into a Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen repeat (note the title reference Gypsy Queen/American Gypsy) and even a Samba Pa Ti take off (yes it's a Cale cover but beautiful), and ending with some hard hitting blues and instrumental. Side One irks some people, because of what? A "top-40" tune? a "Pop" sound? I find the entire journey through Zebop! to be one of natural progression, and exploration with the master himself into every musical venue he ever performed. Listen to words of the opening number, Cat Stevens' immortal Changes IV, which Carlos chose on purpose. It says everything you want to know about the album, and what the musician is trying to say. Zebop! is possibly Santanas best ever effort. It is a milestone in his career, and only for his true fans. It brings together all the early Santana rock, the latin percussive nature of his beast, and the blues/jazz rythme of his soul, and the angelic message he wants you to hear. This CD is a diamond, polished and sparkling, and flawless. If you've been reading bad reviews of Santanas 80's period, and are frightened to try this one, or Shango, or even Marathon, don't listen to them! Listen to your heart. If you like Santana at all, buy this one!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2010
This is Definitely my third favorite Santana album after "Santana" & "Abraxas"
The product description states that it's an Import and Remastered.
The Artwork in the CD Clear Tray had been updated but it's the same exact disc I bought 15-16 years ago. Very unhappy that I now have 2 copies of the same disc with better artwork.
Buyer Beware. Disc Info states 1983, Nowhere in the liner notes does this disc
indicate "REMASTERING" Same goes for SHANGO.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2006
No Santana album has been as good as the first three, but Zebop! comes close. This is one of Santana's best of the late 70's to 80's era. It's preceding albums, Inner Secrets and Marathon sounded too pop-like, without much percussion. (Just a Conga here and there). Zebop brings Santana back to it's latin roots, with awesome percussion, (Primera Invasion, Tales of Kilimanjaro, Hannibal), great guitar work, and great vocals. It's a look back at Santana's early days, while still sounding fresh (American Gypsy, which sounds like classic "old Santana.")
Overall, this is a great Santana album. Only Moonflower beats it in it's category. You won't be dissappointed.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2002
This cd is 3 time purchase for me. I first bought on 8 track in 1981 when it first came out and then on cassette a few years later and now just recently on cd. Carlos' guitar work is top notch as always on this cd as well as the great vocals of Alex Litgerwood. I think the rockin' songs SEARCHING and OVER AND OVER are better than the 2 hit singles off this cd WINNING and SENSITIVE KIND. LOVE YOU MUCH TOO MUCH is the best instrumental on the cd with some very intense moving guitar solos. The track THE BRIGHTEST STAR is well worth a listen with a blues rock style with blistering guitar solos by Carlos and a great vocal performance by Alex Litgerwood. I also love the excellent guitar work on HANNIBAL which is the last track on the cd;Carlos really gets jammin' on this song.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2013
What makes this a truly perfect album is not only the way it was made, but
the way it was performed with such visually stunning creativity, stirring melody
and timeless musicianship that made this masterpiece such a striking work of
art. Filled with hot rhythm, explosive artistry and electrifying rock and roll, the
action gets fired up as the first rate performing cooks with high voltage energy
as Santana made Zebop a blockbuster hit, as it sounds as fascinating when it
did when it first came out in 1981. Also including keyboardist Richard Baker in
an effort to keep the true elements of the first Santana line-up (1968-71) alive,
the supercharged track set kicks off with a high-pitched cover of Cat Stevens'
Changes which is proceeded at rapid pace with E Papa Re, Primera Invasion,
Over And Over, the Russ Ballard-composed Top Ten smash hit Winning, the
beautifully-crafted Tales Of Kilimanjaro, Brightest Star and Hanibal. Yet there
is plenty of great music and heavy components of Latin-flavoured percussion
topped by Carlos' biting guitar work as he and the band pulled no punches as
they made Zebop another Top 20 album that even became their first Top Ten
solid gold album in four years. Though Santana did manage to give Zebop an
overall feel of commercial rock, the songs are performed to unique perfection,
while Carlos bring his guitar artistry to the forefront, which have contributed to
the album's stunning radio-friendly success. Truly hailed as one of Santana's
greatest and most important achievements, you will certainly find the timeless
album to be a thrilling tour de force landmark classic that will always maintain
it's high-rocking vitality.