Multi-Dimensional Warrior is a two-disc anthology spanning Santana’s years at Columbia, Polydor/Polygram, and Arista. It features tracks chosen and sequenced by Carlos Santana as a spiritual exploration of his career, and it is being released to coincide with events honoring activist and labour leader César Chavez on March 31, 2008. Carlos has been quoted as saying, “[Chavez’s] supreme cry of ¡Sí, Se Puede! (“Yes, it can be done!”) will forever resonate as a positive motivator as words of light.”
It’s fitting, then, that disc one opens with “Let There Be Light” from 1990’s Spirits Dancing in the Flesh, which features Alex Ligertwood—Santana’s vocalist from 1979 to 1995—singing lead. Disc one also spotlights the Columbia album Beyond Appearances with “Brotherhood”, “Spirit”, and “Right Now”. Milagro, recorded for Polydor, is represented by “Life Is for Living”, “Saja/Right On”, and “Somewhere in Heaven”.
Constant favorite, “Bailando/Aquatic Park”, from 1987’s Blues for Salvador and Freedom‘s “Praise” (also from 1987) close out the first disc, marking the end of the vocal tracks on Multi-Dimensional Warrior.
The second disc, comprised entirely of instrumental tracks, begins with “Curación (Sunlight on Water)”, taken from Arista release Ceremony: Remixes & Rarities. It also includes “Samba Pa’ Ti” from 1970’s Abraxas, which was the B-side to “Oye Como Va”. Other highlights are “Blues Latino” and “Luz, Amor y Vida” off of Brothers, the collaboration between Carlos, his brother Jorge, and nephew Carlos Hernandez; ” Europa (Earth’s Cry Heaven’s Smile)” from the 1976 Columbia release Amigos; and “El Farol”, which won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Recording and was the B-side of multiple Grammy-winning single “Smooth”. “Blues for Salvador”, from the Grammy winning album of the same name, and “Victory Is Won”, originally released on the 2002 multi-platinum Arista recording Shaman, complete disc two by beautifully restating and embracing allusions to the supremely spiritual nature of Carlos Santana and his music.
The only real problems with Multi-Dimensional Warrior are the minor, but obvious, ones. First, if you are a long-time Santana fan, you most likely own all the original albums on which these tracks appear; if you are unfamiliar with Santana, this may not be the best collection to serve as an introduction. Second, putting the vocal tracks and instrumentals on separate discs doesn’t necessarily encourage continuous listening. It might have been a better idea to intersperse the two over both discs.
That said, Multi-Dimensional Warrior is an impressive exploration, from a very personal perspective, of the vast body of work that Carlos Santana has produced over nearly forty years. As such, this collection lives up to the image invoked in its title.