Oh, Carlos... What have you done? Not smooth.

Once upon a time, before Shakira, before Michelle Branch, and, oh, yes, before Rob Thomas, Carlos Santana: adult contemporary and pop star, did not exist. There was only the Santana Blues Band. To the ire of the band's fans--or at least to the ire of this fan--the meaning of the name Santana has since transformed from a group of rock and rollers that played an amazing amalgam of blues, jazz, and soul (all with a Latin percussion section) to a single guy who plays guitar with famous pop stars to score rote, radio friendly, and--at best--merely competent hits. I mean, for crying out loud, the same guy playing "The Game of Love" was on stage at Woodstock! I don't see Richie Havens singing a song with Dave Matthews.

Santana, the band, I'm talking about now, released the very popular Abraxas, featuring tracks which even the most casual classic rock listener will recognize like "Oye Como Va" and "Black Magic Woman." But the real triumph came the next year in 1971 on an untitled album (dubbed Santana III by the public.) This new record expanded the sound to feature an extra percussionist (four in total,) horns care of Tower of Power, and an extra lead guitarist, Neal Schon (who went on with Santana organist and singer Gregg Rolie to form Journey.) The album is alive, fun, and soulful. And, frankly--coming from a person with a strict no-dancing policy for life--when Gloria Estefan sang “Rhythm is Gonna Get You," she was clearly talking about this album.

The band's follow-up record, Caravanserai, took complete one-eighty from Santana III. Caravanserai was more fusion, less rock. The songs were mostly instrumentals, the classic lineup was starting to disband, and the jazz-oriented record was not as much of a commercial success as the preceding albums, though in the thirty-five years since its original release, it has gained serious respect as a classic. But the point of it all is, starting at the end of the sixties and running until the early seventies, Santana was more than just one man, and those early records did not feature pop duets.