Classics and some curiosities in the history of music.
Love Devotion SurrenderLove Devotion Surrender is an album released in 1973 by guitarists Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin, with the backing of their respective bands, Santana and The Mahavishnu Orchestra. The album was inspired by the teachings of Sri Chinmoy and intended as a tribute to John Coltrane. It contains two Coltrane compositions, two McLaughlin songs, and a traditional gospel song arranged by Santana and McLaughlin. It was certified Gold in 1973. In 2003, Love Devotion Surrender was released on CD with alternative versions as bonus tracks.BackgroundBoth men were recent disciples of the guru Sri Chinmoy, and the title of the album echoes basic concepts of Chinmoy's philosophy, which focused on "love, devotion and surrender". Sri Chinmoy spoke about the album and the concept of surrender:Unfortunately, in the West surrender is misunderstood. We feel that if we surrender to someone, he will then lord it over us....But from the spiritual point of view...when the finite enters in the Infinite, it becomes the Infinite all at once. When a tiny drop enters into the ocean, we cannot trace the drop. It becomes the mighty ocean.For both men the album came at a transitional moment spiritually and musically: Love Devotion Surrender was a "very public pursuit of their spiritual selves." Carlos Santana was moving from rock toward jazz and fusion, experiencing a "spiritual awakening," while McLaughlin was about to experience the break-up of the Mahavishnu Orchestra after being criticized by other band members. Santana had been a fan of McLaughlin, and McLaughlin had introduced Santana to Sri Chinmoy in 1971, at which time the guru bestowed the name "Devadip" on him, and the two had started playing and recording together in 1972. According to his biographer Marc Shapiro, Santana had much to learn from McLaughlin: "He would sit for hours, enthralled at the new ways to play that McLaughlin was teaching him," and his new spirituality had its effect on the music: "the feeling was that Carlos's newfound faith was present in every groove.
TracksThe first track, "A Love Supreme", is a version of the Coltrane composition "Acknowledgement" from the 1964 landmark album A Love Supreme. It features McLaughlin and Santana, both playing electric guitar, in an extended, improvised trading of bars. For the most part, Santana is panned to the left channel and McLaughlin to the right. As with the original, toward the end a chant of "A love supreme" is heard. (Only Armando Peraza is credited as a singer.)"Naima" is another Coltrane composition, played on acoustic guitar. First appearing in 1959 on Coltrane's Giant Steps, it is a gentle song played in a straightforward manner."The Life Divine" again returns to Coltrane's A Love Supreme, opening with the chanted phrase "the love divine" – which one writer inaccurately referred to as "bovine chanting". The song's first part is extensive, high-tempo improvisation by Santana, alternating between quick phrases and long, sustained notes (including one that runs from 3:30 to 4:03). Midway through the song and introduced by the "life divine" chant, McLaughlin takes over with mostly high-speed staccato bursts and riffs. The chant returns, incorporating "it's yours and mine", and Larry Young's organ, with percussion, provide the outro."Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord" is a 16-minute-long track based on the traditional gospel song. The arrangement was credited to Santana and McLaughlin but Bob Palmer in Rolling Stone wrote that the arrangement is close enough to Lonnie Liston Smith's "to be described as a cop". Smith's arrangement was recorded in 1970 when he worked with Pharoah Sanders, who had recorded and worked closely with Coltrane. After the slow introductory statement (the part which resembles Smith's arrangement), most of the piece consists of soloing over two chords accompanied by a loping bass and Latin percussion. Of Larry Young's organ contribution here, Paul Stump, in Go Ahead John, wrote: "with its overlapping flurries of triplets, [it] is a moment of pure genius, worthy of mention in its own right, a musical equivalent of a swarm of surreally coloured butterflies." The track closes with a return to the slow introductory statement.The final track, "Meditation", is a "pretty but light McLaughlin composition" that McLaughlin had previously recorded as a solo for exclusive use by the New York radio station WNEW-FM. McLaughlin plays piano, and Santana the acoustic guitar, on Love Devotion Surrender's version of the tune.