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Saga - Generation 13 CD (album) cover



Crossover Prog

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5 stars IMHO in 1997 SAGA wrote and recorded arguably their strongest album of all time. A pure and pure concept album exploring over 25 songs and interludes the story of social misfit "Sam" and his adventures. Album contains a very wide range of tempo and mood swings with whispered and spoken parts, sound effects and wrapped up in SAGA's instrumentation. Every song bleeds into the next and the entire album runs like a continuous story musically with very few hard stops. This album has also been exceptionally recorded with great sound dynamics for your ears. "Generation 13" is a complete departure from SAGA's song driven days and instead works more on the Whole than on the parts. Lyrics are dark and introspective giving the listener a real thought provoker to make his/her way through. I hope genetic engineering does not ever produce a specimen like Sam to be honest... Overall a captivating piece of musical brilliance with some incredible breathtaking parts. SAGA also employ some orchestration at a few critical moments throughout making this an album which you must live to get.
Report this review (#17509)
Posted Friday, March 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars The most progressive effort by SAGA, even though usually they are not. Well this concept album instead works well from the beginning to the end, and moreover the orchestrations are always vivid. Besides the vocals on the "background" in an apocalyptic New York, are stunning and the output, apart from some prolix parts, is a true surprise!!
Report this review (#17510)
Posted Saturday, April 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 'Generation 13' is Saga's top achievement: after a not so impressive return to the music arena in the early 90s, with two albums that simply had some interesting moments, 'Generation 13' showed a band that decided to challenge itself massively. This concept album centered upon the current youth's obsession for futile pleasures and inability to cherish the real good things in life (including love) is a continuous musical journey that relates Sam's wicked way of life until he dramatically finds out that what he needs is redemption. The performances are extremely sensitive in the most emotional and introspective numbers, while heavily ballsy in the rockier ones. The interplay between all members is awesome and fresh, given the fact that most of the band's inputs were exclusively recorded live in the studio. What else can I say about Negus' tight drumming, Ian Crichton's superb guitar playing, and Gilmour's precision in his keyboard duties that hasn't been said before? Anyway, their skills shine here brighter than never before, due to the strength and variety of the material contained in this record. As always, Jim Crichton's bass playing is subdued and accurately subordinaed to Negus' trends (as a bassist) and Gilmour's ambiences (as a bass synth player), and Sadler keeps the usual level of singing versatility, as well as a good complementary activity on his supporting keyboards - he even dares to play some tasteful bombastic pipe organ!! The first two tracks make an impressive entry: first, a piano club ballad accompanied by Sadler's almost sleepy singing; then, an explosive heavy number that includes a medely of some of the following track's main melodic lines. If you're hooked by now, this album won't let go of you. Other outstanding rocky numbers -'The Cross (Home # 3)', 'The Growing Tree', 'Generation 13 (Theme # 2)'. But if you're more into emotionally deep pieces, here is ' 'I'll Never Be Like You (Once Again)'; or if you want your typical symph prog bombast, you've got 'Snake Oil'/'We Hope You're Feeling Better', and also the fiery climax created by the cinematographic sequence that goes from 'One Small Step' to 'We Hope You're Feeling Better (# 2)'. The 'My Name is Sam' tracks are designed under the patterns of industrial technopop, in order to portray the hedonistic ambient of discoteque-goers, and 'No Strings Attached' takes a bluesy cynical look into the implicit selfishness in the cult of beauty. 'Leave Her Alone' starts as an acoustic guitar duet set upon a somber organ layer, until an indie-like psychedelic rock section surfaces, with lots of ghosts shouting, calling and whispering in the background: really schizo! As you may notice, the repertoire is varied, but not lacking unity at all: the presence of some recurring motifs along the repertoire works as a key of integral coherence. A stounding piece of work that shines as what it is, a 90s prog gem.
Report this review (#17511)
Posted Saturday, June 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Amazing! The next big shot of the band after 'The Security Of Illusion' and the recover after the dissapointment album and comercial bussiness called 'Steel Umbrellas'. I've ever thought that 'Steel Umbrellas' was made to get enough time & money to make 'Generation 13'. This is no doubt the biggest effort of the band ever. The concept of the album is about a book by Neil Howe called "The 13th Gen" and the album works very well around it. It never gets you bored in any point. And all band members are in the top of their performance as composier and as players. All of this men shine constant and simultaneously here. The first mid of the album is more pop-rock, is the most "commercial" part but this is an excellent work. And the second part is more symphonic-rock, more orchestrations, and keyboard arrangements and too much more guitar... But all this guys were brillant here. MUSICALLY, THEIR BEST WORK EVER!!
Report this review (#17513)
Posted Wednesday, December 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
1 stars Having bought all of Saga,s releases I am well used to the concept of having to buy lots of dross to unearth 2 or 3 gems per album....BUT.. this one is all bad, an absolute disaster.

Unless you are a must have completionist don't bother, you will play it once hoping for a good track...there is't one!!

Report this review (#43175)
Posted Wednesday, August 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Most reviewers agree that this particular album by Saga is their most progressive. Now, it might be their most ambitious but in all honesty it has most of their signature sound with some tracks more heavily orchestrated than past material, for me it's more progressive in subject matter then musical. Tracks like 'Generation 13 (Theme #1)' and 'The Cross (Home #3)' harken back to their early days with excellent guitar and drumming with added orchestration on 'Generation 13 (Theme #1)'. Sadler sings well throughout and the band for the most part are as good or better then ever. My only misgiving is the absolute silly voice of one of the characters in this concept album. The character Sam sounds like the worse cartoon/gremlin-like character I've ever heard. It makes a rather serious subject matter, (the degeneration of the current generation) sound rather comical. If your a fan of the band, then by all means this is a must have album. For those that want to hear them for the first time, I would try their early albums then give this one a try. If not for the ridiculous Sam character I would probably pick this one as one of the top three. Still a solid 3.5 rounded to 3. Sam I am not! (sorry Dr Suess :-)
Report this review (#118907)
Posted Wednesday, April 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Back in the 80's and early 90's when there wasn't yet too much prog around I was a great fan of Saga, had all their albums and had been to a few of their concerts, Saga was one of the best for me then, still is good but there are so many great progbands around nowadays, Saga has gone somewhat to the background for me now, but I still have a soft spot for them. I remember buying the Generation 13 record in the middle 90's and was very pleasantly surprised about it. It was at that time the best conceptalbum I had ever heard and if it wasn't for The Visitor by ARENA or More grains of sand and Alone by CLEPSYDRA it still would be !! Central Figure in this story is Sam and most songs are about his adventures. Interesting voices and superoriginal compositions and ideas by Saga and sometimes great instrumental riffs (13th generation/Generation 13 for example). But that's not the important thing with this album. When I played it I had to play it totally, every time, because it's that kind of album. And every time it proved a great enjoyment, amazing that a piece of music (piece of art in this case) can do that to you.

Great compliment for Saga for this very special one and I believe their best effort so far ! 4.25 stars

Report this review (#140588)
Posted Wednesday, September 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is without a doubt the best album the band released in the nineties.

After the comeback of Jim Gilmour and Steve Negus, Saga weren't able to recreate the creative nor commercial succes they had in the early eighties.

The thing tha's most appealing about Generation 13 is the n-nonsense heavy rock production and the solid playing. The sound is overwhelming and it's a tour-de-force lasting an hour.

There's lots of keyboards and guitars, different voices representing different characters. (the music is based on a book). The music is adventurous and this will be the last time Saga tries new stuff. (axcept for their next where they experiment with nu-metal and housebeats, after that the try to re-create their past sound).

In my opinion Michael Sadler does his best singing job up-to-date. Also Ian Crichton shows once more he's up there with the other top-guitarists.

Best songs on the album include The Learning Tree, The Cross, We Hope You're Feeling Better.

The album is bets listenened form start-to-end, with headphones.

Report this review (#189031)
Posted Thursday, November 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
5 stars My generation

It is a little bit of a mystery how such an average band as Saga could make such a brilliant album as Generation 13, but this is a much more convincing and rewarding work than your average Saga album and indeed this conceptual album stands head and shoulders above all other Saga albums. First of all, being a concept album, Generation 13 is much more elaborated and versatile than anything else Saga did, before or after. Secondly, this is a much darker and heavier affair compared to their other works, both musically and in its subject matter. Actually, comparisons to Arena's masterpiece Contagion and Queensryche's classic Operation Mindcrime suggest themselves.

The concept of the album concerns the so called 13th Generation that (as far as I understand) include people born between 1961 and 1981. If that is correct we are talking about my generation here since I was born in 1981. The album has as many as 25 tracks, but many of them are short and the album is best seen as one continuous whole. Admittedly there are some slightly annoying moments, but the album holds together so well that they can be forgiven. There are some spoken word on top of the music and some of the spoken passages are, as I said, slightly annoying like the reoccurring "my name is Sam", but it does not distract too much from the great music.

The music alternates between quieter and louder passages and several musical themes return in several different songs. The vocals are very convincing and there is a wide array of instruments including piano and acoustic guitar as well as a full orchestra on some parts adding great depth to Saga's often quite light and superficial sound. The electric guitar work is also great, surprisingly sometimes reminding me of Allan Holdsworth's style! I find no weak aspects of the sound at all. Some parts have a Metal sound and there is very little of the Pop-Prog we are used to from Saga. The keyboards are often piano or organ rather than 80's synthesisers.

The best individual track is The 13th Generation, which stands as one of my favourite Saga songs of all time. But also The Cross and the two Chances Are pieces that open and close the album are great. But, as I said, the album is best heard as a continuous piece. The hour long album offers diversity and keeps the listener interested with great melodies. This is Saga's masterpiece and very highly recommended! Even for people who normally don't like Saga!

Report this review (#239710)
Posted Thursday, September 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars A topic that crops up on the forum fairly often is which albums are difficult to get into. There are apparently lots of albums that disgust us upon on first listen but which we learn eventually to love. Lizard by King Crimson is the one that I consistently cite.

But a topic that I have never seen, and which is much more germaine to the topic at hand, is which albums have you listened to and dismissed as totally forgettable, but later have discovered have sterling qualities that should not be so easily dismissed. And my vote in that category goes to Saga's Generation 13.

So why am I recommending this to you? This album has the type of concept, story and style that made Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime such an awesome album. The music is truly progressive. Saga is all over the map as far as the style of music on this album goees. Everthing from metal riffs to the sounds of a small orchestra has been thrown in. In fact, if judged just on this album, one might categorize them as symphonic instead. The album has an epic sweep to it, and it does not fail to entertain, despite the fact that it starts slowly in my opinion.

This one gets four stars. I found it original and entertaining and memorable after the first two listens, but it doesn't go far enough to be a masterpiece. But for those who have more or less dismissed Saga (as I have) it's definitely worth some dedicated listening.

Report this review (#244254)
Posted Sunday, October 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars After hearing two unimpressive '80s releases I wasn't planning on hearing anything else from Saga. This is of course before I heard the very impressive sample featured here on Prog Archives and reading some of the reviews I just had to hear Generation 13!

It didn't take me long to start enjoy the music on this album and I pleasantly surprised how different it sounded in comparisons to the other Saga releases. First of all it had no traces of the band's '80s material and that's a huge plus in my book. The album's concept might not be all that original but one still has to appreciate the fact that it's a book to album adaptation. The music benefits by the great '90s production where the drums are threated just right and the effects really enhance the story.

The progression of the music and story is smooth and if it wasn't for the somewhat flawed track The Victim I wouldn't even hesitate of giving this release the highest rating. As it stands today the album may not be essential for fans of progressive rock but I would still recommend to give Generation 13 a spin or two!

***** star songs: Generation 13 (Theme #1) (2:43) All Will Change (Goodbye & Good Luck) (1:57) The Cross (Home #3) (4:09) Leave Her Alone (4:33) The 13th Generation (4:26) I'll Never Be Like You (Once Again) (3:59) Where Are You Now? (1:20) Sam's New Friend (2:29) We Hope You're Feeling Better (1:21)

**** star songs: Chances Are #1 (1:40) Danger Whistle (0:43) I'll Never Be Like You (0:43) My Name Is Sam (Finding A Friend) (0:35) The Cross (2:02) The Learning Tree (4:58) Snake Oil (1:07) We Hope You're Feeling Better (The Test) (4:57) My Name Is Sam (Your Time Is Up) (2:34) Generation 13 (Theme #2) (2:38) Screw 'Em (4:14) No Strings Attached (5:20) All Will Change (It's Happening To Me) (2:00) One Small Step (3:24) Chances Are #2 (1:38)

*** star songs: The Victim (2:59)

Report this review (#259615)
Posted Wednesday, January 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
3 stars One of the hardest ever albums to rate, I must say before I start this review. Iīm a big fan of Saga and I always knew they had the capacity of producing a pure progressive work any time. In fact, they had a lot of progressive stuff in just about every one of their long discographt. So I was quite eager to hear this concept CD, specially after my good friend Progrules raved about it. However, he too adviced me that this was not a record that everyone liked. It was for special tastes. And I found out he was right.

My main grip with this album is the lack something Sagaīs CDs always had plenty of: good melodies and strong hooks. it seems that Michael Sadler & co took themselves way too seriously this time: the concept is dark and pessimist. And the music is so tightly attached to the lyrics it serves as a merely background to the words most of the time. itīs alright, if you like the plot and youīre reading the story. But none of the tracks has a life on its own when you listen to the album for the music alone. None stands out. And thatīs the big flaw on Generation 13. Some bands managed to deliver a dark and gloomy story and still write great tunes (think of Pink Floydīs The Wall for example. You can easily enjoy several tracks on it without knowing whatīs all about).

While I canīt say the music here is bad, this is nowhere near what those guys are capable of when they are inspired. Also I found the main characterīs processed voice too cartoonish for my taste. it really didnīt work within the concept. Still, some of the instrumental parts are good. And the story is well developed.

For such īsongī oriented band, Generation 13 is a bit too rough. Not a good starting point for a newbie, thatīs for sure. Ok, they proved they can be totally progressive when they wanted to. Not that the word progressive means it is excellent automatically. Thatīs why Iīm giving it 3 stars: good, but not essential in any way.

Report this review (#320661)
Posted Monday, November 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars In my opinion is Saga not an Average band, they are so talented! BUT!!! They are satisfy with an Album with 5 good tracks 2ballads and 2 totally bad songs! I donīt know if they know how good they are. I think they can make such better Albums than they do! Also 20/20 but ok the fans buy them and they donīt want to to take some risk! Always the same sound some structure of the songs one song with Sadler singing with Gilmour. One song that Gilmour sings. Yes I am one that buy the cdīs and go to the concerts and I can say you in Germany/Holland they play every year about 30 times;-)! BUT everytime I listen to a new album I think hmmm they could do much much better! That feeling I have since generation 13 came out. I bought that cd and I put it in my "car" and listen to it! Hmm something else!!! wow thatīs week later that is amazing! Generation 13 is absolute Master Piece!

For me it is one of the best albums ever Marillion-Misplaced /Brave Arena-Visitor Pink Floyd-The Wall IQ - Sub.

Yes since then I always think why you donīt play this masterpiece live (Afraid to do something else than Humble Stance)??? and why you donīt try do something else then always make that "standard" Saga cd!

Saga please make more risks and give us another Masterpiece!!

Report this review (#794957)
Posted Thursday, July 26, 2012 | Review Permalink

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