Japan Live Sessions 1986 was recorded at the Sound Market Open Air, Nagano, Japan on June 1, 1986 and features sets from Santana and Jeff Beck, with Steve Lukather guesting on several of the performances. I was thrilled to come across such a classic early Santana performance, since the somewhat misleading DVD title makes no mention of him at all.
This video has been around in various forms since being recorded in 1986, but this is the first time it has been officially released on DVD. The concert was professionally shot with multiple cameras and then edited down to about an hour for airing on Japanese television. The 11-song set provides an all too brief snapshot of what must have been a mind blowing concert featuring three of the world's greatest guitarists all sharing the same stage.
I'm not sure if the audio and video are an improvement of the other versions of this concert that are floating around, but this one looks and sounds pretty good considering the source material. The DVD package is definitely a no frills affair though, offering no booklet, and having a very bootleg quality look and feel. They even misspelled Jeff Beck's famous "Cause We've Ended As Lovers" on the case, calling it "Cause It Ended For Lovers", which is how it also appears in the DVD menu and the screen prior to the song.
The second you push the play button Santana is on the screen, already a few seconds into their opening performance of "Primera Invasion," which is from their often overlooked 1981 album, Zebop. Maybe I'm a little biased about that one since the Zebop tour was my very first arena concert, and it made me a Santana fan for life. Carlos was sporting some Kirk Hammett style long curly black hair back then, and his guitar playing was on fire. "Black Magic Woman" was spellbinding as always, but I damn near jumped out of my skin when "Gypsy Queen" was abruptly cut off by the editor after only a few seconds in. That gives you a glimpse into how truly remarkable this DVD could have been though, were they able to include the entire concert.