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1 stars Don´t let the title fool you... this album should have been named "The Pain". Although I knew Saga were capable of producing less than enjoyable music, this is by far the worst they ever mananged to come up with. Before this one I thought "Steel Umbrellas" and "Wildest Dreams" were really bad, but somehow they both seem good compared to this one. First off, the sound is horrible. It sounds like it was recorded in someone's bathroom. The tracks stink (once again the bathroom reference could be appropriate), more or less. At the time I thought it was really sad that a band that had once made such great music, and delivered classic tracks like "Careful Where You Step" and many more, could sink to this level. In fact it was more than sad at the time. It was a tragedy and a parody as well at times ("Where´s My Money" for instance). Fortunately there were much better times ahead. Even though there are one or two tracks that I can actually stand listening to, this one leaves a distincly bad impression and is simply best forgotten.
Report this review (#17480)
Posted Tuesday, August 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
Marc Baum
1 stars This is all in all more pain than pleasure for old Saga fans. They experimate with cheap techno/keyboard sounds . Some songs are not bad, like "Heaven Can Wait" or You're not Alone", but that's too less for a band who made a symphonic prog/rock classic like "Silent Knight" or a album with a lot of evergreens, for example "Worlds Apart"!
Report this review (#17481)
Posted Tuesday, August 31, 2004 | Review Permalink
1 stars I could not give 2 stars here.I am a major SAGA fan and although I did buy it,it is not good. It really hurts me to admit that ,as I love these guys but it is bad . Any other SAGA albums stand up better.Do not buy as a 1st as I think it will put you off. All bands should be allowed to experiment and SAGA have here.Thankfully back on track with the next one.
Report this review (#17477)
Posted Friday, February 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ignore the poor reviews!! People (even many prog fans) don't like something just because it's different. Yes, folks, this is a very different Saga album. On to the review . . . .

I was listening to this album on the way to work this morning and words cannot express the amount of energy it has! It's absolutely fabulous! The only reason that this album does not deserve five stars is Where's My Money. Although it is a fun song, it really doesn't flow with the rest of the album and should have been left as a b-side. I love the heavy, raw sound that Ian uses and there are some very innovative keyboard sound on this album as well. Songs like Heaven Can Wait, Welcome To The Zoo, and Fantastically Wrong really rock! And the modern rendiition of You're Not Alone with alternate lyrics and meatier instrumentation is great too! Their energetic performance of George Harrison's Taxman is quite fun with a little humor thrown in via the voice of Sam from Generation 13. A big two thumbs up from a person who as been a Saga fan since 1983.

Report this review (#39232)
Posted Tuesday, July 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars There are two losers on the album (where's my money & gonna give it to ya) but how often does the "perfect" album come along ? Ian Crichton kills on this as does Glen Sobel never heard them better !! Just go get it any real SAGA fan would. This is a GREAT album.
Report this review (#45310)
Posted Friday, September 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Full credit for being a little diverse. And come on, any true Saga fan couldn't play some of the "twinky" songs off the first few albums without cringing a little - let's face it, World's Apart was the first album that really hung together. I could go into a monologue about how "4th" albums define groups, but that's another story ....

I'll give it a 3.5 - not as strong as Beginners, Gen13, Security, Worlds Apart, the last 3 albums - but not as weak as Steel Umbrellas.

Report this review (#64272)
Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
1 stars Pain but no pleasure, that's what I feel when listening to this very poor release. Now that the band has returned to what they are good for with Trust, I know that in the future they won't do something like this piece of crap again. The 90s were very hard times for Saga, at least until the final release of the decade Full Circle which is their only great work during this period (sorry but Generation 13 is a bit disappointing to my mind). On the opposite,The pleasure and the pain is their worst album of the decade and of their career. A techno rythm and some uninspired lyrics make every song at best fillers of Behaviour or Wildest Dreams...A complete disaster! But it's too easy to bash such an album, I prefer stopping here and only recommend you to avoid it and to concentrate on all their amazing releases of the 80s and 00s (House Of Cards & above all Trust). -1 star (0 for the album & -1 for the atrocious and ridiculous cover "artwork")
Report this review (#105009)
Posted Sunday, December 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
1 stars The Members of Saga have a strange sense of humor: after producing one of their most original and creative album in Generation 13, the band then decided to celebrate its twentieth anniversary with the worst album of its career! With the "Pleasure & The Pain", they're trying to sound like an alternative-nu metal band and it really doesn't suit them well. Michael Sadler's voice is no longer in the foreground and is often filtered, which gives very strange results ("Welcome To The Zoo"). The keyboards are altogether absent, and Steve Negus (who was still part of the band at that time) has been replaced by a session drummer who simply bashes his skins like a beginner. They even add insult to injury with a new "alternative" version of their classic You're Not Alone, a tasteless version of Taxman by The Beatles, and what appears to be a techno track. Add to that the horrible cover, and well, it doesn't look good.

But, isn't there at least a good song on this musical Titanic? Yes, one and a half even! The first song, "Heaven Can Wait", reminds me a bit of the "Heads Or Tales" album and "Gonna Give It To Ya" might be another "Wind Him Up" were it not for the awful disco beat in the background. Aside from that, "Pleasure & The Pain" is a disaster and completely forgettable. At least, this experiment lasted only one album, because they came back in force with the pretty good "Full Circle" two years later.

Report this review (#125583)
Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Well, this must be one of the must controversial albums of all on progarchives ! What enormous contrast between the likers and the haters here. Count me in for the likers although this isn't really a great album.

But I do think this is an original issue by Saga, almost funny even which is apparent in tracks such as Where's the money, Tax man and Fantastically wrong. Where is the money is actually meant as a sort of joke. For those who know Saga's early work: On their debut there was a track called Give 'em the money and with Where is the money they probably lost the money and wondered what happened with it. I think it shows they have sense of humour and there are more tracks that refer to past tracks such as the re- issue of You're not alone.

No really, I can't hate this album even if I wanted that but I won't get carried away by it either. This is just nice stuff, no more. So 3 stars is what I give it.

Report this review (#153197)
Posted Friday, November 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars The majority of Saga fans would probably agree this is one of the worst albums they has ever released. I always heard this album was rushed to meet contract obligations and based on the quality I would have to assume this was indeed a matter of fact.

For me this is the 3rd worst Saga album, with Steel Umbrellas (The 'Cobra' TV Series Leftovers Album!) being 2nd and The Human Condition being the worst. The Pleasure And The Pain isn't all that bad if you're someone like me who likes a lot of different genres/styles of music. There is some good energy here!

My Pleasure: Heaven Can Wait, How Do You Feel, Welcome To The Zoo, Where's My Money, You're Not Alone '97, Gonna Give It To Ya, Fantastically Wrong

My Pain: Taxman, You Were Made For Me, Pleasure And The Pain

I did put Where's My Money in the Pleasure list, that was not a mistake! I do consider it a pleasure. The Pleasure outweighs the Pain for me personally with this album, I just wish they never would have covered Taxman, that is an awful song.

Report this review (#209792)
Posted Thursday, April 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Picked up the CD used at Spin-It out of curiosity from the interesting reviews already posted. Even gave it a listen at the store just to make sure there was something there that I'd like. So here goes my impression.

First, Ian Crichton's guitar is out in the open on a lot of tracks. Not just solos, but riffs and as the main instrument carrying the songs. This is a pattern on most Saga albums since the late 80s. Some are balanced between the keyboards and guitar (usually the best ones) , and some tilt towards one or the other.

However, as with many releases in their history, the Pleasure & the Pain lacks in consistency. If you prefer getting your music via MP3 services like ITunes or Amazon, then this album does have some mighty fine songs.

And here they are (mine at least, and all comparisons for description purposes only, no outright copying or mimicking implied) - "How Do You Feel" comes across as Pendragon having Alex Lifeson as a guest on Pure. Heavy Neo. Neo Heavy Prog. Great song.

" Where's My Money" ... yes, it may be a joke song. Yes, apart from the heavy metal guitar that barges in regularly, the bass & drum parts here could easily fit the song into a techno dance club playlist. The synth line is reminiscent of On The Loose. BUT ... somehow Saga makes this one work for me. Who says loud guitars don't make everything better

"You Were Made Me For Me" is another hard rocker. Micheal Sadler singing is given sound treatment to recall some or Roger Waters' vocals. But the song itself is almost "aerosmith-esque" in the riff department. Not quite as sexed up. But then prog rockers aren't known for rocking the house. This one does. Kudos to Ian Crichton once more.

"Gonna Give It To Ya" brings back the dance club drum parts, but the rest of the song, brings to mind a combination of classic period ELO instrumentation (Eldorado, Third Day) and Styx hard rock & pop perfection (Cornerstone, Pieces of Eight). At first, I must admit that the disco rhythm was distracting. But as a whole, this tune carries me. It does make me wish that Negus had played drums , though.

"Fantastically Wrong". O.K., this says it all - Rush does their own "Subterranean Homesick Blues" . No really. And Saga pulls it off. 'Nuff said.

Then the album closer - "Pleasure and the Pain". This one is unlike just about everything I've heard from Saga. In a way, the song is one surprise after another. Sadler starts off with a few words from Sinatra's My Way - "We've lived a life that's full, We've traveled each and every highway, but more , much more than this, we did it ..." and then into this medieval acoustic guitar playing that completely took me in. I've read how Gentle Giant was one of their influences. But this song is the first time I've seen that acoustic side. The melody does recall Rush's Rivendell, from Fly By Night. But not quite. In a way, in stripping away the electric, they show the true prog side that too often many miss.

There are a number of decent tunes, a cut above filler, but that won't make my Saga compilation. Heaven Can Wait matches previous AOR leaning songs that this group has put out over the years. Welcome to the Zoo is a mocking commentary of some ill-behaviour that humans indulge in. You could call it a Hard Prog version of Devo's Planet Earth, but with a chorus melody that sounds as if it was taken from the Cars' Heartbeat City."

Now let's finish with the spoilers - I never liked "You're Not Alone", never saw why it kept a regular place in the group's concert setlist, and this '97 version does nothing to change that. Note to Saga - please never ever ever redo this song. or play it live again. Please. And never cover a song unless you either pay homage to it or make it your own. Saga makes SRV's version sound great. They make their own sound poorly thought out. And I say this as a fan of Ian Crichton's guitar playing, but they just don't pull this one off.

So, here's my score -3.5. Very consistent songwriting, marred by two songs that don't even qualify as filler. 2 that, if I was playing the LP, I wouldn't be bothered to get up and move the needle. And 6 that I've saved to my PC's hard drive as I build up enough songs for a CD compilation from Saga albums.

I'd round up. But the rehash of a non-classic of theirs, and a mashmess of a classic from the classic group make it a cop-out. If you can get it cheap , do so.

Report this review (#222569)
Posted Monday, June 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
1 stars Fantastically wrong!

Saga's 90's output was severely uneven both in terms of quality and in terms of style. At the time of writing, the four studio albums the band released in the 90's include both two of the band's most highly rated albums and two of their lowest rated albums! While I have yet to hear 1994's Steel Umbrellas - if the average rating on this site is anything to go by - it seems to be an anomaly in between the solid The Security Of Illusion and the excellent Generation 13. The Pain & The Pleasure is again a much weaker album than its immediate predecessor and it seems that the band operated on the every-second-album-good, every- second-album-bad- principle throughout the 90's. As mentioned above, it was not only in terms of quality that the band's 90's output was something of a roller-coaster ride but also in terms of sound and style. While 1993's The Security Of illusion was a rather typical (but untypically strong!) Saga album and 1995's Generation 13 was a conceptual and very progressive effort, 1997's The Pain & The Pleasure is more of an Alternative Rock album! It is indeed hard to recognize Saga here; the clean production that has been a Saga trademark since the band's very inception is abandoned here in favour of an altogether more contemporary (90's) production, the keyboards that always have dominated the Saga sound have been relegated to the background to the extent that they can hardly be heard at all and the guitars that are more prominent here than ever have been given a much more "dirty" sound than ever before (or since) or a Saga album. The highly progressive approach of the previous album is nowhere to be found on this album. Fellow Canadians Rush did something similar to their sound with their Counterparts album, but for Saga the change is more sudden and radical.

The album opens with its strongest track in Heaven Can Wait, one of the few memorable tracks on this album. The heavy and almost Grunge-like How Do You Feel and Welcome To The Zoo are also not bad, but after that the quality of the compositions seem to diminish very rapidly. The tedious Where's My Money stands out from the rest in being a Dance/Techno-like number whose only lyric "where's my money?" is being screamed by an angry crowd! What's next? Well, among other things, a cover of The Beatles' Taxman and a re-make of the band's own You're Not Alone (here called You're Not Alone '97), originally from the Images At Twilight album from 1980. This is just lame and neither improves upon or adds much of interest to the original versions. The inclusion of such tracks makes this album feel rushed. Gonna Give It To Ya is a more conventional Saga song (though a pretty awful one, I must say!) with a clear 80's flavour, and as such it sticks out like a sore thumb on this album. Fantastically Wrong is indeed a good example of what is wrong with this album and the very nice acoustic closing title-track simply arrives too late to save this album from utter mediocrity. It started out good enough and closes on a high note, but what is found in between is mostly filler.

The Pain & The Pleasure is a very disappointing follow-up to the brilliant Generation 13. Thankfully, the band would regain their senses and return to their roots with the next album, the appropriately titled Full Circle.

Report this review (#491460)
Posted Thursday, July 28, 2011 | Review Permalink

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