In the dictionary next to the word "essential," you'll find a picture of this album. Sandwiched between the seminal Abraxas and the revolutionary Caravanserai, Santana's third LP finds the band now very comfortable inside their invention, that unique fusion of Afro-Cuban rhythm with pan-Latin import and the ferocious, unrelenting pound of a psychedelic rock and roll band in full flight. If you liked Abraxas, don't forget to go the extra step and get this one, too. Because none were doing it in 1971, and none have done it better since. I think it's amazing how fresh and how mature the group sounds for just the third album, and yet, with all the swirling Hammond organ, raucous percussion and abrasive guitar, the thought of Caravanserai's chill embarkation for parts unknown almost brings a tear -- and by the way, I love Caravanserai. Compared to its immediate predecessor in the discography, III is rougher around the edges, a little more relentless in its pursuit of the groove, and maybe even a little less accessible. The music is fully cooked and raging. It sounds a lot like a live album, and the segues between tracks are so tight that they beg you to look for the seams. The audio quality on all available CD editions is stellar, and the "Legacy" edition contains a full live set from July 04, 1971 at the Fillmore West, plus extra studio sessions. Play it loud!