Over the course of 26 albums, Carlos Santana and his namesake band have withstood and embraced a bevy of stylistic shifts, from the psych rock and Latin rock they famously displayed to the half-million patrons at Woodstock, to jazz rock and jazz fusion in a different phase, straight-up AOR in another and an unlikely move to radio pop on their biggest-selling record, released three decades after their debut. It’s been quite a career, and it continues on.
It takes a while to make one’s way through the entirety of the band’s studio oeuvre. (This experience can be further extended if one includes the band’s multiple live albums and collaborative records, plus Carlos Santana’s solo output, of which there are close to a dozen, both in studio and live.) But it’s well worth the trip, even if it means enduring the passel of releases on which the group gives in to the plastic production and super-synthesized sound of a particular era. Even in those cases, Santana is Santana, and there is a mark of quality to be lived up to; if the material seems uninspired, the band still lives up to their reputation as a collective of stellar players, regardless of who is backing up the Big Guy on a given album.
Consider the following, then, as something of a guide through the great, the good and the not-so-good – a list of Santana Studio albums, Ranked Worst to Best.
Santana Albums Ranked Worst to Best
Carlos Santana & Co. have been supernatural musical shape-shifters for 26 albums. Here’s how those records rank.