Luther Rabb - vocals; Carlos Santana - guitar, vocals; Pablo Telez - bass; Tom Coster - keyboards; Jose "Chepito" Areas - timbales; Armando Peraza - congas, bongos; Graham Lear - drums
Following the initial success of Santana's first three albums, Carlos Santana would begin pursuing projects both inside and outside the context of his band. Miles Davis and the various alumni of his late 1960s/early 1970s groups would have a profound impact on Santana's direction in the years to come as jazz elements would be infused into the Latin-rock that initially established his band's reputation. Carlos' projects outside the band, including an album and tour where he teamed up with Mahavishnu Orchestra members John McLaughlin and Billy Cobham, along with his spiritual awakening to the teachings of Sri Chimnoy, would soon alienate fans who preferred the early hits, but Santana would gain legions of new fans from the bourgeoning jazz-rock fusion movement in the process. These outside influences also had a profound effect when Carlos returned to the group, as he began infusing a jazzy new direction into the Latin-rock that initially established the band's reputation. Numerous personnel changes occurred during this era, but the melodic fluency of Santana's guitar solos and the biting, sustained tone that is his signature remained central to the band's sound, earning them legions of new fans in the process.
Recorded in Dortmund Germany by Radio Luxembourg for broadcast, this performance captures Santana during their world tour of 1976, performing both older material that established the band's reputation, along with choice tracks from the mid-1970s albums Amigos and Festival, with an emphasis on the latter.
The recording begins with an introduction by Bill Graham, who welcomes the Dortmund audience and mentions that Radio Luxembourg is recording the performance. The set kicks off with a spirited and highly extended version of "Let the Children Play," one of the standout vocal tracks on Festival. The band's inspired pairing of Peter Green's "Black Magic Woman" with Gabor Szabo's "Gypsy Queen," follows, always a crowd pleaser. However the band truly starts hitting their stride on the Amigo album track, "Dance Sister Dance," clocking in at over eight minutes, which is then followed by some of Carlos' most penetrating guitar work on another Festival album track, "Revelations."
Before truly stretching out, the group delivers one more old and new gem, beginning with "Oye Coma Va," the Tito Puente cover that along with "Evil Ways," sent their debut album to the top of the charts. This is followed by the final installment from the Festival album, "Maria Caracoles," a Salsa tune originally popularized in Cuba during the '60s by Peyo El Afrocan.
The best is saved for last and indeed the final 25 minutes begins with the classic Abraxas track, "Samba Pa Ti." One of the most beautiful instrumentals of Santana's entire career, here it is explored for 10 full minutes and features Carlos Santana's' most potent and emotional playing of the evening.
Like most Santana performances of the 1970s, the group concludes with an extended sequence that showcases the rhythmic fury that has always been at the heart of the group's best material. This final sequence begins with a quick jam on the debut album track "Savor," which serves as the launching pad for the percussionists. With Graham Lear on the main kit and the double threat of percussionists Chepito Areas and Armando Peraza all on the same stage, this is one sizzling listen that eventually bursts into the standout composition from Santana's third album, "Toussaint L'Overture." This intense instrumental exercise features brilliant guitar playing, dense percussive backing, and an acid/funk groove. Although many recordings exist from the 1976 tour, one would be hard-pressed to find a more convincing example of this lineup's formidable powers.