15 Santana Albums Ranked Worst to Best
Santana is a legendary band and is primarily known for Carlos Santana’s brilliant guitar skills. With a career spanning over five decades, Santana has released 26 studio albums, 7 live albums, 23 compilation albums, and 61 singles.
We will explore a list of Santana albums ranked from their early days up to current albums. Whether you are a long-time Santana fan or just a casual fan, join me in this blog as we discuss one of the greatest bands and guitarists in music history.
Santana Albums Ranked Worst to First (TLDR)
The best Santana album ever made is Supernatural (1999), while the worst album Santana ever made is Festival (1976). Now let’s dig into the full ranking of Santana’s albums below.
15. Festival (1976)
This album opens with the infectious “Carnaval,” a song filled with energy and delight. Santana’s guitar skills shine brightly in this song, setting a fun tone for the album. Unfortunately, this is as good as this album gets. With this album, Santana tries to get back to the basics but falls short in doing so.
Although the guitar skills of Carlos Santana are always consistent, I feel they are not enough in this album for me to come back to listen to this album on repeat.
Favorite song from Festival: “Jugando,” festive vibe is what gets me lured in. The energy from Santana’s guitar is incredibly drawing to the ears and makes this song a great one to dance to.
14. Marathon (1979)
One of my favorite things about Santana is their ability to combine mind-blowing instrumental techniques with catchy melodies, which is not any different from Marathon. Alex Lingertwood’s vocal delivery in this album adds a soul element that perfectly dances with Carlos Santana’s romantic side with the guitar.
The late 70s were a hard time for rock music as Disco was taking the world by storm; however, Santana did an exceptional job standing out despite all the Disco wave by embracing the trend for rock in the 80s: soft rock and shred guitar.
Favorite song from Marathon: My favorite song from this album is “Lighting in the Sky” because of the fantastic guitar riffs featured in the song. Additionally, this song’s energy is powerful and exciting to listen to.
13. Inner Secrets (1978)
This album was the first step in which Santana was moving away from their signature rock sound and moving forward with funk, disco, and pop elements within their music. Although many fans found this album to be a compromising move from the band rather than an artist change, I still find the album very pleasant to listen to.
Songs like ‘Stormy” have catchy lyrics, while Carlo Santana shows off his guitar abilities. Overall, I think Santana does an exceptional job embracing the pop genre in this album.
Favorite song from Inner Secrets: “Open Invitation” is a song that stands out the most to me in this album. I love Carlos Santana’s iconic guitar work with this song, and the laid-back setting of the song can draw in any music lover.
12. Santana III (1971)
Santana III is a staple album for any Santana fan as it is considered one of the best albums from Santana. What makes this album such a fan favorite is the various dimensions delivered in this album. From funky songs such as “Jungle Strut” to passionate Latin vibes in “Guaijira,” shows that Santana’s musical abilities are truly versatile.
Lastly, Carlos Santana’s mastership of the guitar is perfectly delivered on this album. This album has an upbeat but low-key vibe that makes a great album to play while hanging out in your backyard grilling on a summer’s day.
Favorite song from Santana III: The lyrics may be relatively simple in the song, but they are nonetheless powerful in “No One to Depend On.” The lyrics suggest a theme of self-reliance that many people can genuinely relate to.
11. Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time (2010)
This album features Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas reunion after many years of their success on Supernatural. However, that is not what I love about this album. This album is special because Santana teams up with talented artists to cover some of the greatest songs were ever written.
That alone makes this album such a fun album to listen to. For example, listening to Carlos Santana kill it on the guitar while Chris Cornell sings heavenly along is a combination I realized I needed in my life.
Favorite song from Guitar Heaven: The Door’s song “Riders On the Storm,” featuring Ray Manzarek and Chester Bennington, is my favorite song from this album. Bennington’s voice is hauntingly good and delivers this song that gave me goosebumps in my arms.
10. Freedom (1987)
1987 was an excellent year for music, which is no different for Santana. Freedom revealed that Santana could fuse various musical elements like rock, pop, and Latin influences into one album. The opening track, “Veracruz,” is a powerful song with a rhythm and fiery vocal performance that makes you want to dance and rock out simultaneously.
Also, this album showcases Santana’s ability to evoke emotion through their songs, and they do a great job in doing so in the song “Before You Go.”
Favorite song from Freedom: As a big fan of romantic songs, “Love Is You” is my favorite pick. Carlos Santana’s guitar playing is very romantic, and I think it is one of the most beautiful performances he has ever done. I can see this as a song a bride would walk the aisle down to or a couple’s first dance.
9. Shangó (1982)
This particular album ranking may be controversial as many hardcore Santana fans do not like this album; however, I see the beauty this album has to offer. This 1982 album from Santana features some of Carlos Santana’s best guitar playing on a Santana album.
Another highlight is the themes that are presented in this album. Santana attempts to convey messages of love and hope through this album, giving the album a deeper meaner than their previous work. Overall, I find this album to be vibrant and rocking. It is something I love to listen to regularly.
Favorite Song from Shangó: “Hold on” is the best song from this album. I find this song’s lyrics inspiring, which gets me to focus on living in the moment. I also love the song’s rhythm, which only emphasizes the inspiration presented in this song.
8. Milagro (1992)
Milagro was the first album not to crack the top 100, it broke my top 10 because of its beautiful presentation of rock, jazz, and Latin fused together. For being an album dedicated to Miles Davis and Bill Graham, I appreciate the rock and jazz presentation on this album, which I find a perfect way to honor these two men.
Despite what I would consider a slow-paced album, I see many songs, such as “Agua Que Va Caer” and “Saja/Right On,” to be robust and uplifting.
Favorite song from Milagro: The soulful song “Make Somebody Happy” is such a heartwarming and emotional song. The lyrical deliverance of this song is so moving and powerful that it evokes a series of emotions when one listens to this song.
7. Corazón (2014)
Santana’s first-ever Latin music album barely arrived in 2014, however, it is one of Santana’s best albums ever. As a Santana super-fan, I feel this album should have happened sooner than later because hearing the beautiful Spanish language to the guitar playing of Santana is the perfect combination ever to happen to the music industry.
What makes this album special is the cover of the song “La Flaca,” originally recorded by Jarabe de Pablo, a cornerstone for Spanish music lovers. Also, what makes this album spectacular is Santana’s big embrace of Spanish rock elements, which I think are underrated by music lovers.
Favorite song from Corazón: As a big fan of Santana and Gloria Estefan, “Besos de Lejos” is a dream come true. Estefan delivers the song with so much tenderness, passion, and power, and it really captures your heart when you are listening to the song.
6. Amigos (1976)
This short but fun album starts off fast and fun with “Dance Sister Dance (Baila Mi Hermana).” The album’s dynamic structure is what serves as the centerpiece in Amigos.
While Carlos Santana’s signature guitar sound is always to be found, this album also offers a variety of instrumental pieces that really demonstrate the band’s technical skills. This short album truly features various instrumental to upbeat songs and ballads, providing something for everyone to enjoy.
Favorite song from Amigos: The funky and upbeat song “Let It Shine” is the best track from this album. The instrumental delivery of this song is impressive; it is hard not to notice it. It is a fun track that always puts me in a good mood with its powerful vocal performance.
5. Shaman (2002)
One of my favorite things about this album is that the artists featured on it, such as Michelle Branch, Musiq, Macy Gray, and P.O.D., to name a few, really showcase the talent input on this album. What also makes this album enjoyable is the simple blend of rock and pop, which were genres thriving in the music industry at the time.
By offering very pop songs like “The Game of Love” and hard rock songs such as “America,” really shows how innovative this album is. Santana does an exceptional job adapting to this album’s current times, making it one of the most exciting albums to listen to.
Favorite song from Shaman: “The Game of Love,” featuring Michelle Branch, will always be one of my all-time favorite songs. This song always evokes a sense of nostalgia when I listen to it; however, more importantly, this song always makes me happy when I hear it. Branch’s soulful singing equally matches the soulfulness of Carlos Santana’s guitar playing.
4. Abraxas (1970)
Abraxas was the first Santana album I was ever exposed to, and it helped contribute to my love for classic rock. What stands out from this album is the lyrics, which focus on love, spirituality, and social justice.
Also, Santana’s ability to create music that is not only complex but creating a musical experience with each song makes this album so remarkable. By doing so, Santana fuses various pieces from different genres and musical techniques to create an ultimate listening experience that truly feels complete.
Favorite song from Abraxas: “Oye Como Va,” an empowering song with infectious energy embedded within the song’s beat, makes this the best from the album. Also, how can anyone not fall in love with Carlos Santana’s guitar riffs in this number? I feel it is impossible because it is too empowering not to love!
3. Santana (1969)
It would be disrespectful not to have Santana’s first album in the top five of this list, so here it is, at number three. One of my favorite things about Santana is the various instrumental pieces in multiple albums, and this is no different for “Soul Sacrifice.” This song is a fantastic closer to the album and makes the album feel complete.
What makes this album enjoyable is the power and passion presented through the instruments playing throughout the song. It adds a dynamic like no other and evokes empowering feelings from the listener.
Favorite song from Santana: “Evil Ways” is no doubt my favorite song from Santana. This song evokes culturally related memories from my childhood as I remember hearing this song being played by various neighbors growing up in East Los Angeles. I think this song will always stick with me because of the message of self-awareness the lyrics cover.
2. All That I Am (2005)
This album starts strong with “Hermes,” with features a delightful blend of rock and Spanish rock vibes. This may be seen as a “newer” Santana album, but it is incredible. Another great aspect of this album is the lyrics’ themes, which focus on important issues such as suffering in the world, love, and, well, life as a whole. This album also features great talented artists such as Steven Tyler, will.I.am, and Los Lonely Boys, to name a few.
What I particularly love about this album is how it successfully jumps around with genres. For example, at one point, you are listening to a rock song like “Just Feel Better,” and then you jump to a pop and rap song with “I Am Somebody.” It is an album that keeps you on your toes and prevents you from getting bored. It’s definitely one of the best Santana albums ever—but not the very best.
Favorite song from All That I Am: As someone who loves Aerosmith, it is unsurprising that “Just Feel Better,” featuring Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, is my favorite song from this album. I enjoy Tyler’s emotional vocal delivery over the sounds of Carlos Santana’s beautiful guitar playing. The lyrics hit home as they talk about personal struggles and how only the person you love can help you through them.
1. Supernatural (1999)
After several years of not releasing music, Santana made the ultimate comeback with Supernatural, which many people believed revived the band’s career. Supernatural is a timeless piece and an album that made me a Santana fan. This album features a variety of elements, Spanish rock, Latin influences, rock, and pop. Santana has featured many artists on their albums over time, but nothing has been able to outdo the artist’s input on this album.
The artists featured on this album have different vocal ranges and styles, each equally inputting passion and power into the delivery of their respective songs. To this day, “Put Your Lights On” featuring Everlast will always evoke this power within me as a music lover. This is why Supernatural is number one on my Santana albums ranked list.
Favorite song from Supernatural: This was the most challenging album to pick a favorite song from. This album has so many great songs; it was tough to pick one. So after much wrestling with my decision, I selected “Maria Maria” featuring The Product G&B as my favorite song.
This song is my favorite because of the lyrics, which I have related to since I grew up in East Los Angeles. Also, the way this song is sung is so perfect that you can sense the sadness within the lyrics.
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This article was written by Amanda and edited by Michael.