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Saga - Worlds Apart CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.64 | 222 ratings

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4 stars The cool reception this band - and this album in particular - often gets surprises me. Certainly there were some missteps and downright forgettable moments along Saga's career path, the group always seeming to walk a thin line between intellect and commerce at a time when no one seemed much interested in either prog or their brand of pop. The difference, for example, between the classic self-titled debut and blah commercialism of followup Images at Twilight was tangible, and I suppose Michael Sadler's heady moaning doesn't win many fans. But these quiet progsters to the North always had something to offer at an often desolate time in music with their tasteful and clever post-symphonic phrases, low-key but cunningly good musicianship, marvelous studio sound, and unapologetic attitude toward a strong electronic presence. Not to mention a system of composition so efficient it's likely the secret envy of all those who have survived in music over the decades without selling their souls. Ian Crichton is simply one of the most refined and discriminative guitarists around and knits in along Jim Gilmour's and Sadler's keys with careful measure, brother Jim Crichton bottoming firm with drummer Steve Negus's array of acoustic and electronic drums. This is a band who knows who they are, and are pretty happy about it. Comparisons? Rush meets Styx? Bah, doesn't do these fellas justice. An acquired taste I guess, or maybe it's like when you'd rather have Pepsi than Coke.

A plectrumed harp sound trills open 'On the Loose', a big city escapade with open-arms to the airwaves but plenty of prog tendencies if you're listening and is supported by lesser 'Time's Up', a sort of late period Genesis homage that will surely cause immediate nausea for most reading this, Sadler's Ric Ocasek-like delivery mostly forgivable. First rate 'Wind Him Up' with its symmetry, melodic lines, polished aesthetics and clipped hiss of a drum program cutting a swath down the middle, 80s Karate Kid pap 'Amnesia' and its bizarre lyric, and intriguingly paranoid 'Framed' is excellent; a model of prog sophistry smartly dumbed-down so as to be palatable. And it works beautifully, full of quiet complexity masked by an appealing sheen as it flows into 'The Interview', another model of economy and disciplined composition. Sadly 'No Regrets(Chapter 5)' is a horrifying and sugary song of dreams, love and tender memories but that's okay cause instrumental 'Conversations' kicks some big-time ass and reminds of DiMeola's cyberfusion, and if you listen close you'll hear what the instruments are saying to each other. The eighth chapter of 'No Stranger' ends with big walls of bass pedals, synths, guitar layers and some Journey-style cock rock.

A solid 4 stars, Saga are an admirable symphonic rock act who don't mind writing songs too and if you can bear with them, their silliness, a fine and eloquent prog band begins to show.

Atavachron | 4/5 |


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