In retrospect, the early 70s were quite the time for mainstream music. The Philly Soul sound was happening, arena rock hadn’t gotten bloated yet, one could be an artist that was obviously not going to sell millions of records and yet still get signed to a major record company and while mainstream jazz was getting short shrift from the majors, fusion was in full flower and musicians on both sides of the "fence" (you know, jazz on one side and rock/R&B/funk on the other) were making great records, many of which were finding homes with the majors. Santana started off and ostensibly "stayed" a rock band, emerging from the tail-end of the eclectic Bay Area rock scene in the late 60s. At the time, virtually no one else sounded like them: Santana played a potently rhythmic combination blues, psychedelic rock & roll, post-bop jazz and Afro-Cuban music (their Abraxas has stood well the test of time), but by the early 70s, leader/guitarist Carlos Santana further fell under the sway of the music of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, John Handy and (Mahavishnu) John McLaughlin, and Santana the band began to reflect that change. On 1972’s Caravanserai, they were still playing verse/chorus/verse songs, but there were more wide-open, modal, jazz-charged improvisational flights (think Coltane circa "Naima"), anchored by rock dynamics and churning Afro-Cuban-based rhythmic certainty. Carlos Santana’s guitar playing has rarely sounded better: it’s both passionately piercing and introspectively haunting, a truly unique combination, and this "expanded" version of the band performs with focus and inspired precision. Caravanserai stands as one of the Santana bands finest hours, if not THE finest.