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Saga - Worlds Apart CD (album) cover

WORLDS APART

Saga

 

Crossover Prog

3.63 | 180 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars I’m really not sure why these guys are listed in the Progarchives, even under the label “Prog-related”. Aside from some artsy album covers and the occasional longer-than-radio song, they really don’t seem to qualify. One other thing I suppose – they do have a very Uriah Heep-like history as far as drummers, having used at least a half-dozen throughout the years on their various albums and tours. Other than that – I don’t get it.

I have a few Saga albums picked up in their early days when they were a regular fixture on MTV and AOR radio. Even then I don’t believe too many people considered them to be a progressive band. This particular album was originally released on the Portrait label, which had their heyday as the U.S. distributor for Pink Floyd, but by the 80s was trying to carve out a niche with bands that were heavily marketed through MTV, teen fan magazines, and movie soundtracks – Altered Images, Aldo Nova, Sade, Cyndi Lauper, Bad Manners, Heart (during their best-forgotten years), and former Boston guitarist Barry Goudreau’s power rock band Orion the Hunter. Not exactly the wunderkind of creative music.

“On the Loose” and “Wind Him Up” were hit singles in North America, and their promotional videos were both on heavy rotation back when Martha Quinn and Nina Blackwood were still veejay babes. They were part of a new-wave invasion back of the early 80s, when Canadians like Bryan Adams, Aldo Nova, Gino Vanelli, April Wine, the McGarrigle sisters, Martha & the Muffins, Katrina & the Waves, The Tragically Hip, Crash Test Dummies, etc. etc. were blanketing American television and radio with highly synthetic and danceable music with vapid lyrics, but blessed with mass appeal. This didn’t last long, and to be fair Saga is one of the very few of these bands that have survived until today, so points for that I suppose. Actually, they have evolved into a popular and accomplished touring act today, but these early albums are not in the same class as later works like House of Cards and Trust.

After the two hit singles, the rest of the album is rather uneven. “Amnesia” sounds like Bryan Ferry vocals overdubbed to Altered Images instrumentation, a pure pop dance tune that was undoubtedly intended to be yet another radio hit. Michael Sadler’s voice on “Framed” sounds like a cross between Thomas Dolby and that guy with the hair over one eye in Flock of Seagulls. The music behind is nothing more than a lot of instrument- noodling, particularly on guitar and keyboards. The drums are okay here, but are also synthetic, which is a distraction.

“Time’s Up” is the obligatory ballad – sort of. This sounds totally like a forgotten Simply Red b-side.

“The Interview” starts off the back side of the album with a little bit of promise, featuring some big keyboards and an irregular but interesting tempo. Unfortunately, the rest of the album falls pretty much flat.

“No Regrets” and “No Stranger” are the fifth and eighth chapters in the jigsaw epic Saga spread across their first four albums in random order. Back then I thought this was a classy bit of artistic mystery – today I see it as more of a clever marketing ploy to promote the back catalog. If anyone is really interested in the whole ‘story’, the band released it live on “The Chapters” in 2005, but don’t expect The Human Equation or anything.

“Conversations” is simply filler, a Kraftwerk-meets-Gary Numan instrumental that may be some kind of electronica epic or something, but to me is just filler.

So that’s pretty much it. Saga still has a very strong following, particularly in Scandinavia and Canada, and they are actually doing some light but interesting artistic music today after three decades together. Unlike most other “progressive” bands, I would recommend anything the band has done in the last four or five years, and stay away from this earlier stuff. For collectors only – two stars.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 2/5 |

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