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Santana’s most commercially successful album was probably Abraxas. Released in 1970 it contained three of the band’s best known songs – “Oye Como Va”, “Hope You’re Feeling Better” and “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen.” Released in September 1970, the album reached #1 on the Billboard album charts – no doubt benefiting from the March 1970 release of the Woodstock movie where their incendiary performance of “Soul Sacrifice” was a highlight of the film.
“Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen” was not an original composition. In fact, it was a combination of two covers that are today’s Songs of the Week.
“Black Magic Woman” was originally recorded by Fleetwood Mac. Not the Bob Welch (Bare Trees, Mystery to Me) version or the Buckingham/Nicks (Fleetwood Mac, Rumours) version, but the Peter Green led band.
Peter Green was a blues guitar virtuoso that replaced Eric Clapton in John Mayall’s Blues Breakers. When his stint with Mayall had run its course, he formed the original Fleetwood Mac. “Black Magic Woman” was the first single from their 1968 debut.
“Gypsy Queen” was originally recorded by Hungarian jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo.
The Santana version follows the Szabo template very closely and signaled that Santana would soon be led into a more jazz influenced direction later in his career. Santana’s style is a bit “heavier” and more Latin influenced, but the guitar riffs are near identical.
Although I almost always favor the version of a song that I heard (and loved) first, it’s always interesting to hear the originals. Don’t you think?
Enjoy… until next week.