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5 stars THE Peak of SAGA's creative juices are flowing on this album. While most people who know SAGA know "Wind him up" or "On the loose" , this album has strong tracks from #4 on to the end. Ian Chrichton proves his worth as a guitar player here. The drums are huge on here & Steve Negus is locked in!
Report this review (#17549)
Posted Thursday, December 11, 2003 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars I remember this album with a different cover. This is the end of their first cycle and some people found interesting making compilations of all the chapters scattered on their four albums setting them in the right order . I don't know what resulted of it back then and I still don't really care. saga was never really for me although I saw them at various concerts around Toronto. These ugly digital synths really irked me at the time and twenty years later they still do.
Report this review (#17550)
Posted Wednesday, February 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Well probably it should deserve a 2 stars rating if you regard of their compact tracks (divided into chapters), being not particularly inspiring from the point of view of their composition. Anyway as an album of "Pomp-Rock" it works quite well, being modern too!!Therefore the clean sound and such a perfect production as usual make this album worth checking out at least. The unique problem concerns some digital synthezisers only: in the early eighties such keyboards were not technologically developed and the clean sound is a bit disturbed from this equipment. But at the end this simple work is fluid and above all MODERN...for the less involved moments only!!
Report this review (#17552)
Posted Saturday, April 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
1 stars My first impact with the music of Saga. I was coming from prog rock music like Yes, Genesis, ELP, Camel, King Crimson, Rush etc etc and I was curios about this group. I tried with this album - after reading some positive reviews - and I was hit by the overall electronic-plastic enclosure of the sound, the fault of inspiration in every single piece of the record... No one musician impressed me... Bah! Maybe I will be lucky with another record...
Report this review (#17553)
Posted Tuesday, April 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars With this album Saga cancelled the era of their first eight Chapters, while musically speaking, continued to explore in their fresh matured sound they had so successfully achieved in their preceeding work 'Silent Knight', while laying a bridge between this one and their next 'Heads or Tales'. All in all, the listener can easily notice a few slight variations. For starters, Saga's new repertoire incorporates some obvious leaning towards AOR in some numbers: the opening 'On the Loose' - which was the first single -, 'Amnesia', and 'The Interview'. Now, I know that AOR is usually a very reviled thing, but it doesn't have to be in this case, since Saga deliver this stuff without losing a miligram of their powerful prog sensibilities. The prog factor is still predominant, as it is shown in the amazing eerie track 'No Regrets (Chapter V)', in the ambitious epic 'No Stranger (Chapter VIII)', and the attractive jazz oriented instrumental (with a funky twist) 'Conversations', whose explosive closure sounds actually pretty heavy, almost Iron Maiden-esque. But the heaviest thing in this album is incarnated in the neckbreaking 'Framed': Ian Crichton's guitar really shines here brighter than a hundred suns!! Another new element that should be mentioned here is the electronic factor: Negus' enthusiasm for electronic drums is displayed notably on 'Wind Him Up' and 'Time's Up'. The latter brings Saga closer to the technopop wave that was becoming increasingly popular in the early 80s, specially in Europe and the UK, but this goes beyond that: figure a mixture of Ultravox and the deepest side of early 80s Tangerine Dream, and you may have an idea about the kind of beauty achieved in this song. The latter has a more complex structure and a major level of artistic accomplishment: its clever mixture of technopop synth paraphernalia, heavy guitar riffs/solos, and amazing symphonic layers make it a fantastic example of modernized prog. 'Wind Him Up' also made it as a single, and may I add that it's one of their best popular tunes: since then, it has been played recurrently on stage and celebrated by the crowds of fans. In many ways, this track concentrates all the strong points of 'Worlds Apart'. As a whole this album doesn't equal the energetic brilliance of 'Silent Knight', nor does it keep the freshness of their debut album... but it's a very good work, full of some real bright moments.
Report this review (#17554)
Posted Monday, July 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars SAGA's 4th studio album "Worlds Apart" released in 1981 is another must have, it would be in my top 3 SAGA album list. What a year+ 1981 was for Canadian bands, both SAGA and Rush released their most popular and well known albums, both still sound great today. Worlds Apart was most popular and sold more copies than any other SAGA recording to date. MTV made tracks like "On The Loose" and "Wind Him Up" popular, Billboard had both tracks in their Top 40 and the album went Gold and Platinum in many countries. The track listing on the Remaster is a bit different from what is listed here, but starts out with "On The Loose" easily SAGA's most identifiable song. Track 2 is "Time's Up" a slower track about wasting your life away, very nice - sadly I can identify with it!! Track 3 is "Wind Him Up", a track that I think is their very BEST, it has everything SAGA is about all rolled up into one incredible track. Steve Negus' drumming is very well done here and through-out the album, Michael's vocals are as always out of this world and Crichton's guitar really shines, especially his solo which may be my favourite of all time. A woman friend of mine, once told me this song made her... umm... well.. "horny", lyrically I don't know how that is possible but I figure the music sure could do that to a woman, this song is utterly fantastic. Track 4 we have PINK ELEPHANTS!! hmmm.. well not really... but if you saw the video on MTV you would remember the PINK ELEPHANT, it's called "Amnesia" it starts with a clip from Tom & Jerry (yes the cartoon!) it's a bit quiet though so you have to turn it way up to hear it in the intro, the song is good though, love the chorus "I LIVE WITH AMNESIA, DANCING WITH THE SHADOWS OF MY MEMORY" !! Track 5 we have "Framed" a song about Sgt. Ernie Bilko (sort of), a musical piece of ear candy (for me) comes 2:40 into the song (do you hear it... there it is.. ahh love it!) and the great Crichton solo at the end completes this track perfectly. Track 6 is "The Interview" one of my favs on the album, mid- tempo, saweeet song! Track 7 is Chapter 5's "No Regrets" which is a soft slow track sung by keyboardist Jim Gilmour, very nice. Track 8 is an instrumental, unless you count... "CONNNNNNN - VERRRRRR - SAAAAAAA - TIONSSSS" this is a good instrumental, I wish they'd do more. Worlds Apart closes with Track 9 which is Chapter 8's "No Stranger", this is an epic of a song clocking in around 7 minutes it is an excellent album closer, very high paced, rockin' tune. I will leave you with 4 words.... BEST. SAGA. ALBUM. EVER.
Report this review (#17555)
Posted Friday, August 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars A memorable album! The fist album of the band heading to the pop music and less symphonic than the last three albums, but it's symphonic yet. After the album finishes you'll think you've heard a Greatest Hits due it's just one of the best works they've ever done! RECOMMENDED TO INTRODUCE YOURSELF IN THE MYSTIC UNIVERSE OF SAGA!!
Report this review (#17559)
Posted Wednesday, December 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Probably the best Saga recording if not entirely typical of their sound. I remember getting this sucker back to my teenage bedroom when it first came out and being blown away. The opener `On the Loose` is arguably one of the finest examples of existential uplifting prog. Not only are all the tracks romantic barnstormers but little complicated melodies abound. Unison guitar synth riffs tinkle away. The moog bass is well up front, its majestic.I asked Jim Crichton who his inspiration was and unsuprisingly the mid 70`s studio one man band recordings of Stevie Wonder was his reply. The mix and production are first rate. Unfortunately some of the drum and keyboard patches now sound a little dated but... memories are made of this!

Report this review (#17557)
Posted Tuesday, January 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Listening to this album certainly jogged my memory. I was in the early years of my short-lived Navy career enjoying living in California (even if it was on ship) when I purchased the Saga cassette Worlds Apart. I clearly remember watching this new video TV show called MTV with a girlfriend at her apartment across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Rafael. I really enjoyed the song by Saga called "On The Loose." It had an energetic and exciting pulsating rhythm and it sounded very modern with all the synthesizers layered in between the guitars. My life was full of that kind of energy and excitement on a regular basis so I could picture myself singing that song onstage just like Michael Sadler. I was a tall drink of water so I would at least look the part anyway, even if I could not sing. Well, it was always fun to fantasize.

Worlds Apart was and still stands as some of their best, if not their best work. There is a lot of consistency throughout this recording. A classic progressive rock album gets its due thanks to the stunning reissue treatment it gets from the SPV label. Besides all the great tracks like "On The Loose," "Times Up," "Amnesia," and "No Stranger," there is a great bonus video of "Wind Him Up" for your viewing pleasure. It helps to put the song into proper perspective while watching the video.

With keyboards as the predominant instrument, this band had a challenge ahead of them to break a big market, particularly outside of the rock realm, the pop charts to be more specific. This music was not pop music in 1981; of course, by today's standards those elements are evident. The fact that they did become very successful lends credence to their musical formula and guts to try something different that was unique, more so than anything else you could hear up and down the radio dial. Instrumentally speaking they were very advanced and their sound most definitely fit into the progressive art rock category. Their sound was a perfect fit for then fledgling MTV network.

Albums like this never wear out their welcome. The best part about it is that you can count on reissues to have a better sound with all the extras to tickle your fancy and bring back reminders of those days gone by. CDs like this are worth their weight in gold not only for the great music, but also for the joy they rekindle in your heart. Oh, did I forget to say how much this album rocks? It sure does.

Report this review (#17558)
Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "World's apart" is Saga's fourth album. Still very progressive, some changes however have been made here compared to the previous albums. The sound is better, more flashy and echoed, especially the really bottom and loud bass. The keyboards are more modern and futuristic than ever: they are also quite atmospheric. With 2-3 keyboardists in the band, one has to have great expectations, and actually the listener should not be disappointed regarding the keyboards refinement and pertinence. There are still synchronized combination of electric guitars and keyboards forming melodic, structured and complex parts. The lead vocals still sound like the singer of Spandau Ballet, but they also developed some similitudes with the singer of The Fixx. The electric guitars themselves become here more varied, and they sometimes sound a bit like the clean ones on the early albums of The Fixx. That's why I consider this album to have the traditional Saga's style combined with some Fixx-esque elements. There are some very good electronic drums parts. Many keyboards have a magical percussive sound. The sound sometimes slightly approaches the perfect one on the "Head or Tales" album, made 2 years later. Saga has their own unique sound & style: they probably inspired neo prog bands like Pallas.

RATING: 4.5 stars

Report this review (#17560)
Posted Thursday, March 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars SAGA was and still is special. If you're bored with American mainstream with the same old guitar riffs and screaming voices you should check them out. But beware: You need to like complex melodies and guitar/keyboard duettos! This is one of the best of their early albums and cointains gems like "Wind him up", "On the loose" and of course: "Framed". If your heartrate does not accelerate with this one - you must be clinically dead. Buy, enjoy and forget about the rubbish on MTV.
Report this review (#37841)
Posted Monday, June 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
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.


Report this review (#81319)
Posted Friday, June 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Just like Rush with 2112, Saga's fourth album, Worlds Apart, would be their breakthrough album, and with good reason. They striked the perfect balance between intelligent, complex music and melodic, radio-friendly vibe, and, in the process, came up with their biggest hits and some of their most memorable songs, while still remaining true to their sound and identity. And all of this earned the band much needed (and deserved) radio airplay. How many bands managed THAT ?

Songs like 'On The Loose' and 'Wind Him Up' are timeless Saga classics, melodically superb and rythmically catchy, and instrumentally challenging and demanding. Needless to say, Sadler's vocal performances are, as always, close to perfection.

Every song here is a winner. We even get a surprise in 'No Regrets (Chapter V)' when keyboardist Jim Gilmour takes lead vocal duties and performs a beautiful clarinet melody. 'No Stranger (Chapter VIII)' is a prog moment worthy of 'The Chapters', 'Time's Up' is a quirky semi-ballad, 'Amnesia' and 'The Interview' are also great memorable songs.

This album is a perfect exemple of where prog was at this time, and is just as essential to a collection as other prog masterpieces of the 80's as 'Moving Pictures' or 'Signals' by Rush.

A must-have, deserving five solid stars.

Report this review (#100864)
Posted Tuesday, November 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars "World's apart" is Saga's fourth album. Still very progressive, the sound is better, more flashy and echoed, especially the really bottom and loud bass. The keyboards are more modern and futuristic than ever, another must have not only by Saga fans, but to every one who enjoy good music. I think in the early '80 they have un unique sound, and albums like Worlds apart, Heads or tails are among the best in prog music, that's what i think about this great canadian band. Forte track is by far Amnesia, great voice, and No stranger. Similar bands maybe at some point Styx and Kansas. 4 stars for sure, among the best Saga albums.
Report this review (#122300)
Posted Wednesday, May 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars In the forum this was considered the best Saga album , although that doesn't appear in the averages so far looking at all the album ratings. And I don't really agree that it's the best but it is a very good one. The album starts with the smooth On the Loose, an accessible track for Saga in those days. Next is Wind him up, a true classic they often play live. Amnesia is a very nice one about an interesting problem. I hope I will never suffer from that. It's followed by my favourite on this album: Framed. This is a mindblowing song with a terrific ending, one of their best ever. Time's up is about another human problem: the fact that you wasted your time away. Great lyrics. Personally I feel that if you listen often enough to prog (in general) you don't really waste your time away, but ok. The Interview is a characteristic one for this album I feel which has a certain mood about it. Early Saga albums had that, I always loved that very much. No Regrets is the ballad, nice but not the best of this album in my opinion. Conversations is the instrumental (except for the occasional "Conversations" sung by the band) which sounds really good too. The final track is another highlight, No Stranger is somewhat symphonic (one of those songs that make me believe Saga is more than prog related) and a great composition. The final minutes remind me of the ending of the Cygnus song (Hemispheres) by Rush. I'm not saying they stole it but it's remarkable.

All in all a great effort by Saga deserving the full 4 stars.

Report this review (#151048)
Posted Friday, November 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
The Crow
4 stars Pretty good AOR-progressive-symphonic mixture...

The canadians Saga reached high levels with this their fourth efforth, full with nice melodies, bombastic sections, hundreds layers of keyboards, and a very imaginative Ian Chrichton's guitar playing, surprising and exciting in every song. The album folows a similar style of bands of these years like Asia and Rush... Not so pop-oriented like Asia, and not so coplex as Rush, but enough interesting for being between the memorable symphonic albums of the early 80's.

This bombastic way of understanding progressive music perfectionated by Saga in Worlds Apart influenced a lot of bands in the future... You only have to hear some bands like Pallas or Everon to notice that. So a group with this kind of influence and original material should have a more prominent place in prog history that Saga actually has. And they are still releasing albums regularly today with good results... ˇBut Wolds Apart is without a doubt still one of their peaks!

Best tracks: On the Loose (great opening, bombastic rocks with great keyboards... And a good introduction of what will come), Amnesia (commercial and catchy track... The middle guitar section is great), The Interview and No Regrets (two beautiful and space-rock oriented tracks... ˇNo Regrets is like a cosmic lullaby!) and No Stranger (similar to On the Loose, this track closes the album powerfully...)

Conclusion: very good bombastic prog-rock album... With a cristal clear production and some excellent tracks, this album is still really enjoyable today. I don't really know why Saga is listed like prog-related in this site... This album es a good example of the symphonic AOR rock made in the early 80's, and one the the best released in this time, along with some Asia and Rush's efforts. Recommended.

My rating: ***1/2

Report this review (#165958)
Posted Monday, April 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'm a bit biased here, because this is the first record I ever bought, on vinyl in 1982 with a different cover, so it seems fitting, that this is also the first record I review on this site. At that time On the Loose was a great hit in Germany and in other parts of the world and I just liked it, when hearing it on the radio, not caring whether it was progressive or not. I was reading a lot of science fiction at that time and Saga seemed to be the perfect soundtrack for Orson Scott Card and Philip K. Dick. Saga was a very promising band, then, combining progressive elements, amazing musical skills and Science Fiction with a mass appeal and Stadium Rock attitude. They would release one other album in that vein "Heads or tales" and lose it afterwards until "Trust" was released, showing a late return to form.

At their best, Saga sounded like a band from outer space, there were no other bands I know of, which sounded even remotely like that. You have many layered keyboards, which build the basis of the sound, a solid rhythm section (I actually liked Steve Negus' drumming), an aggressive, razor sharp guitar, fast solos, which were never self indulgent or overdone (except maybe on Tired World on the self titled debut, but there is always an exception to the rule) and the voice of Michael Sadler, which might not be for everyone, but certainly added a certain uniqueness to the sound. Like in a good science fiction story, they would combine strange and original ideas with a well crafted story, which means a nice melody and usually a conventionally structured song. Do not expect "Gates of delirium" or "Supper's ready". We are dealing with crowd pleaser material here, but still a little different. This is mainstream, but not Journey, Foreigner or Survivor. It is Blade Runner mainstream, not Rocky.

However, with World's apart Saga left the world they created with their first three records. It is no coincidence, that, no matter what version of the album you possess, the strange mechanoid insects do not appear on the cover. Saga was turning towards more earthbound themes in their lyrics and somehow the atmosphere here is not as consistent as it was an "Silent Knight" or the self titled debut. Here we have some songs which might be written off as filler material. "Conversations" is a nice instrumental, expertly executed, but somehow I did and do not care that much about it. Songs like On the loose, Time's up, Wind him up and the worthy closure to the somehow obscure Chapter Concept "No stranger" were songs that spoke to me immediately on an emotional level, while it was also evident, why "Amnesia", "Framed" and "the interview" were not single material, although Ian Crichton's guitar saved them (at least Framed and Amnesia) from oblivion.

So is it a good album? I would think so. Occasionally I still listen to it. I know what I get and it ages very well. There are still not many bands around, that sound like Saga at the height of their creativity. Mind's Eye, maybe.

Is it progressive? Well, define "progressive". It's not early Genesis, it's not early Yes, it's not King Crimson. But if progressive means something new, influenced by the dinosaurs of prog, it most certainly is, though maybe the influence is rather to be found in the Krautrock corner than classic prog.

Recommended, still, for anyone who likes intelligent Rock Music. Not essential, but in my opinion still much better than the better rated "Full Circle". Actually three stars, but I give it a four, just to raise the average.

Report this review (#196688)
Posted Wednesday, December 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
1 stars I am truly sorry to announce - I really tried to listen to this record several times and still fail to find where exactly it is prog-related. For the most part I don't find it even rock-related. Cheesy pop sound typical of the 80s, unintereseting tunes, typical overblown 80s pop vocals, feeble and failing guitar attempts at coming at least close to something rock-like etc. Only on two tracks things get more interesting - The Interview and Conversations, which actually contain some proggish turns. Another listenable track is the closing No Stranger. And that's it. I've heard 6 of Saga's albums and this is exactly what I can say about most of them. Two exceptions being the recent Trust and Human Condition. This here has no more reason to be reviewed on a progrock site than say Depeche Mode or Alphaville.
Report this review (#209490)
Posted Wednesday, April 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
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.

Report this review (#213231)
Posted Saturday, May 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Worlds Apart, where the music world opens its' arms to Saga.

"No one can stop us now

Tonight we're on the loose

No one to tell us how

Tonight we're on the loose"

Call it Prog, Pomp, Arena, Modern rock , whatever. Saga hit this one out of the park. On The Loose and Wind Him Up burned up the charts, and set Saga into the big leagues. Add to this a new avenue for media exposure. MTV, still in its' infancy , provided much exposure for these two songs' videos which stood out among the best in a nascent art form. Where once they were compared to Rush, Genesis, and Queen, they now came into their own. And in a year where North American once prog groups like Styx and Kansas were morphing into more radio friendly shadows of themselves, Saga joined Rush in hitting their commercial peak, while staying true to themselves (ironically, Rush would move from the guitar heavy Moving Pictures to the Synth laden Signals within a year. Saga influencing Rush ?)

The album's two openers summed up their influences and set their sound. On The Loose, Wind Him Up - sophisticated, progressive, intelligent, with the instrumental interplay that few bands could match. Melodies to die for, guitar solos that most metal virtuosos could barely follow, keyboards that at times carried the song, then backed off to support the mood, and time & time again the two "lead" instruments would charge off . With Negus & Ian Crichton providing solid rhythm support, it all came together. Medieval funk indeed ! The promise showed on their debut with the song How Long was finally fulfilled. In Spades !!!

Where once their pop leanings could come across as fey, songs like Amnesia would continue their pop side like songs such as Slow Motion on Images of Twilight, but with more of an AOR sensibility. Time's Up & Framed , at first listen, make me think of the Cars' Heartbeat City and its' polished symphonic panorama that Mutt Lange built up bit by bit (or byte by byte, so to speak). No Regrets could have been on Pendragon's debut. This was a band that was world class and comfortable in showing all of its' musical faces.

Album cuts like Conversations, The Interview & No Stranger would quickly become fan favourites. Indeed, in going through the various tour setlists posted at a fan site - SagaPlanet - it seems that all the songs here were regular concert standards.

So if you're looking for THE Saga album. This is it. Start here.

Report this review (#214253)
Posted Thursday, May 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Tonight they're on the loose!

1981 was a very good year for Canadian progressive rock, two of our best known bands of the time released their most critically acclaimed and commercially successful work, despite the hard times for the progressive scene. Many people know that Canadian progressive megalodons Rush released their hyper-hit Moving Pictures in this year, but here's another gem that may have been overlooked. Saga had been kicking around in the mid to late 70s, never quite getting the recognition they deserved until this album broke them into the mainstream. Worlds Apart continues the band's Queen-meets-Rush kind of sound with their unique blend of keyboards and guitars in harmony, except this time they got everything right, and everything fell into place.

The band has a very large and uneven output, calling them anything but prolific would be a crime, but this is arguably their most solid release to date. With three hits and a number of great supporting songs this is a must for any progressive music collector, assuming you don't mind a bit of commercial rock in your music. In which case, the elistests should probably steer clear ? those still interested are in for a great treat.

Right off the get go this album snags the listener and pulls them in, never letting go. On The Loose gets things started with a trademark keyboard riff before exploding into full motion, Sadler's vocals mixing perfectly with Ian Crighton's engaging riffs and solos. Saga may not have been the wisest when it came to the placement of slow songs, many times the tracks on their albums are out of place, ruining the momentum and overall flow. Time's Up defies that logic by offering a slow song as the second track and manages to keep attention through the whole thing. It may be the interesting use of voice effects on the chorus or just the overall beautiful melodies throughout, but this one's a killer. Wind Him Up is a song that every Canadian knows by heart, thanks to the CanCon radio restrictions (all stations must play 30% Canadian Content on any day) we've all heard this one a billion times, perhaps never knowing who it was by! Crighton's instantly recognizable riff off the top makes this one worth every second, especially with Sadler's more delicate vocals and backing keyboards in the breakdown nearing the end.

While the rest of the album may not be quite as recognizable as the first three songs (all regularly rotated on radio) there is no drop in quality at all. Amnesia is a quirky rocker, as is Frames. Conversations provides a nice instrumental break in the ending trio of songs, proving that while it may not be a YYZ, Saga can still break out the impressive instrumental weaponry. No Stranger (Chapter 8) is the impressive opus that finishes off the album with an emotional bang while carrying on the ''Chapters'' series that the band began on their first album (and would not revisit until Full Circle in 1999) along with the considerable slower No Regrets (Chapter5). However, it's The Interview that steals the show, thanks to Sadler's amazingly emotional delivery and the incredibly true and eerie story told by the lyrics.

Overall this is a solid album, one that no progger should be without. Canadians too, you should all have this one. While it may often be frowned upon to give a Prog-Related album 5 stars this is an album that would be more comfortable in the Crossover Category. Not to argue the place of the band on the website, just this album in particular. And with that somewhat unrelated rant out of the way I award this album 5 glowing stars out of 5 to give it (and the band) the recognition and respect that it (/they) deserve. Do yourself a favor and check it out!

Report this review (#221258)
Posted Monday, June 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars Well I like this better than their previous album "Silent Knight", in fact many will hold this one up as their favourite SAGA record. Like the last recording I find there are two great tunes that I know from the radio along with some good to poor tracks. Not a fan of the album cover either with the fog and the old guy with the map.

"On The Loose" is a favourite from years back. Synths and drums to open as vocals join in.The guitar comes to the fore on the chorus. Nice instrumental section 2 1/2 minutes in. "Time's Up" is where they slow things down.The focus is on the vocals and the beat. "Wind Him Up" is maybe their best track ever. This was huge in Europe. It hits the ground running and I love the chorus. My favourite on the album. "Amnesia" has some nice bass as vocals join in. Then it kicks into an eighties sounding tune. It settles back as contrasts continue.

"Framed" is a song I have mixed feelings about. I'm not a fan of the spoken words and eighties sounding synths but the guitar is good and I like the sound of this track late. "The Interview" has an intro I don't really like but it does get better. "No Regrets" opens with light keys and fragile vocals. It turns spacey late. An interesting tune. "Conversations" is an instrumental. I like it. "No Stranger" is the longest song at over 7 minutes. It takes a while to get going but then it kicks in before 2 1/2 minutes with vocals in tow. The guitar lights things up before 4 minutes. A calm with synths 6 minutes in and almost spoken words follow.

3.5 stars.

Report this review (#228582)
Posted Monday, July 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Saga" here comes a maturity, by offering an album version "CD" with a different cover of the album "33 rounds". "On the Loose" starts the album strong, there are fears the worst. The Next 'Times up "is simply beautiful, the guitar still beautiful. "Wind him up" is even better, the quality of the album is mounted very high, the singing is sublime on the title, it is a great title. "Amnesia" is falling temperature, but the chorus is beautiful, beautiful melody. "Framed" we are waiting for the album slows down a sentence, the dexterity of the musicians is always present. "The interview" a little more special, with its fabulous, we understand that listening to a great album title is not as bad. Following "Chapter Five" called 'no regrets' is a very sweet song, a beautiful lullaby. "conversations" is the title under the bung album, listened to it and you will see the level of the album. Finally we have the right to "Chapter Eight" here called "No Stranger" as quite nearly suffocated experimental progressive rock, but suddenly a break and all the instruments take their flights.
Report this review (#228595)
Posted Monday, July 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars A streamlined Saga

Worlds Apart was Saga's breakthrough album and listening to it now, I can certainly understand why. The songs are catchy and accessible, the production - even if not really my cup of tea - is clearly improved over that of previous albums and the band sounds more confident here than before. Even if the self-titled debut from 1978 already featured all the aspects of the distinctive Saga sound, it wasn't until the present album that the band really "found themselves". They happened to find themselves in a place a little bit further away from progressive Rock, however. I used to have somewhat mixed feelings about this development: On the one hand, Saga were about to close the door on the genre of music that I like the most, but on the other hand they were improving in most other respects. At the end of the day, I have to say that this is a great album even if it was in some ways a step in the wrong direction. I clearly see it's qualities, and I enjoy all of the songs. Indeed, the first six or seven tracks are all time Saga classics and the album as a whole is of course an all time Rock classic despite the relative weakness of the last two tracks.

I think it is fair to say that Worlds Apart was a kind of transitional album for Saga. While being the last album of their early progressive period, it was also, at the same time, the first album in their more "commercial" period. The fantasy-tinged sleeve pictures of the first three albums have here been replaced with an altogether more candid image and the corresponding changes were made in the production and songwriting. This is in many ways a more streamlined Saga. But they did still manage to hold on to Prog here with many short but effective instrumental breaks and powerful guitar and keyboard solos. Worlds Apart was also the last album to feature "chapters" (until 1999 when they picked it up again).

Highly recommended!

Report this review (#239910)
Posted Friday, September 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One of best Saga albums, isn't something extra ordinare. But all Saga's music is like that: even in their best moments they are just competent, no more.

I still remember how they came to music world as next Rush canadian shadow, but with lighter and more modern ( now we can say - "more 80's") sound. For me they are next to Marillion band who build the ground for neo-prog coming.

I think only some their early albums are interesting enough for listeners, and that is one of them.

Quite melodic synth/keyb based rhytmic sound is near to "new vave" sound ( which was one of most important musical direction of that time). In fact I think their music could be descripted as art-rock+ new wave. But happily their music (at least at that time ) is still art-rock + something, not vice versa.Heay use of synthesizers was very popular at that period in all prog-rock, best illustration is Rush albums after "Signals".

Really, Rush music starting from their "Signals"album is quite similar to Saga music of the same period. In their later works both bands had gone to far in their synth/pop direction and missed their prog roots.

So, for sure not masterpiece, very competent Saga album. I think it should be interesting for all neo-prog fans ( there are their beloved music roots), and for many prog fans who is accepted later Rush-like music.

Strong 3,5.

Report this review (#242147)
Posted Wednesday, September 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
2 stars Saga sound a bit refreshed here. Never since the debut had they been so focused and sharp. They even tried out a few other sounds and production techniques. Not always successful but still, it's a change at least.

Of course, most tracks conform to the trademark Saga modus operandi. On The Loose, Wind Him Up and No Stranger are assembled according to the Saga prescription. Generic, but at least they sound like they're having fun at it.

The remainder of the album actually contains some new tactics. The rhythms used in Amnesia, The Interview and Conversations even echo some of Bowies Berlin trilogy experiments. Unfortunately, the results aren't all that captivating and the choruses are really weak. Time's Up is almost a Kraftwerk track, be it with a little guitar left and right. Nice track this one.

Again, it's not much better then just those 4 good tracks. 2.5 stars

Report this review (#251932)
Posted Friday, November 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars While "Worlds Apart" contains a few of SAGA's best and best known songs, it lacks the overall consistent quality of its predecessor "Silent Knight". It is also more firmly of the 80s if that is indeed possible. The synths and drums reek artifice and style over substance, and and least half of the material could have been produced by Human League on Crystal meth.

Some of the best playing here is buried by compositional deficiencies, particularly in "Conversations" and "Framed". Elsewhere, even the playing is not very inspiring. Because their least interesting material tends to sound fast and chaotic for the sake of it, mellower tunes like "Time's Up" and "No Regrets" provide an appealing contrast and sound even more profound than they would have on a better album. The exceptions are the hits "Wind him up" and "On the Loose" which would seem the heir apparent to the best of earlier Saga, informed by a chart awareness hitherto unimagined. These are powerful arena rock anthems that happen to be progressive as well.

With less than half an album of worthwhile listening, "Worlds Apart" is not even a half world apart from most early 80s dross. 2.5 stars rounded down.

Report this review (#275054)
Posted Sunday, March 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars Having read a few praising reviews of this album, I've come to conclusion that there are two different records with the title Worlds Apart, and the one that I've listened to is not listed here. Firstly, the cover is different, and secondly, I'm totally confused where all the four or five stars reviews come from!

The only thing that makes me understand why this album is listed on PA, is the output of the band just before Worlds Apart. At this stage, I don't find anything progressive about the band, their sound, the compositions, anything. Don't get me wrong, there was some great music published in the early 1980's, but Saga's effort is best forgotten as quickly as possible.

The A-side is rhythmically and structurally vapid, easy-disco music without any meaningful points to remember. The B-side is maybe better with the slightest of marginals, but not worth listening to.

Sadly, this album is a horrible waste of vinyl. :(

Report this review (#279829)
Posted Thursday, April 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars OK let's redress the balance somewhat. Saga are and never were as deep as say Rush, but have always had more to them than say Styx. Saga are capable of some great music, but also some dross. Lyrically, don't expect too much either.

On The Loose - This is Saga's equivalent of Rush's Subdivisions. Greate rocking opener. 5/5 Time's Up - Slightly naff and a bit commercial 3/5 Wind Him Up - Absolutely brilliant, superb interplay twixt guitar and keys 5/5 Amnesia - I'd rather forget this limp effort 1/5 Framed - Rather weak first half with vocals, but rips into a blazing instrumental section to close. Fantastic 3/5 The Interview - Another turkey 1/5 No Regrets - Featuring Jim Gilmore who sings with a rather weedy voice. Decent enough through 2.5/5 Conversations - Blistering instrumental 5/5 No Stranger - Odd mix of AOR and prog 4/5

Overall, a fine slice of guitar based rock with prog sensibilities. Just about 4 stars.

Report this review (#279838)
Posted Thursday, April 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars The crown jewel in Saga's discography.

Saga has released a lot of albums since they started in the mid 1970s. I know because I have a 20 + albums with them. In a discography of silver and dirt, Worlds Apart is their best album.

It is very difficult to argue against an album that starts with a brilliant song like On the Loose. This is probably their best ever song too and a live favorite. It is also a very uplifting song and would feature on a lift-me-up compilation album if I ever made one. I love this song.

Other great songs on this album is Wind Him Up, Amnesia, Framed, No Regrets and No Stranger. There is in fact not a single weak song on this album at all. This album is full of very cleverly crafted pomp rock songs where the guitars and the keyboards are just perfect. So is the vocals too. Yes, the songs are cheesy and sounds stucked in the 1980s, the decade we all would like to forget. But this is still a great album and the one studio album worth having from a polarizing band you either love or hate.

4 stars

Report this review (#307280)
Posted Friday, October 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Saga has always been around me during my college years in Bandung as I always purchased their albums in the format of music cassette. Unfortunately I never paid attention to their music as when played the tapes I did'nt feel like 'hooked' to their music unlike bands like Genesis, Yes, Marillion or Rush. I was not sure why it was like that. It's probably most of their music structure are quite straight forward - even though I knew that the subtleties of keyboard and guitar work are quite complex. I could only enjoy their live album "In Transit" as there are two great songs and performance: Wind Him Up and Humble Stance (it then became my best track from the band all the time).

Recently I played this music cassette from this album and I feel similar with what I felt in the 80s even though now with a deeper appreciation of their excellent subtleties especially through the sounds of guitar as well as keyboards. I have to admit that this is the only band that has its own unique sound and no one can really follow them. It's probably no one is interested to follow this unique characteristic of Saga. And now I am playing again this album while writing this review and sipping a cup of Aroma coffee made from Jl Banceuy, Bandung. Oh ...what a life! I really enjoy the writing now and let's get started!

Oh yes the opening track "On The Loose" is quite straight forward in structure, but I really enjoy how keyboard and guitar play an interesting intertwining roles in most of segments typical Saga music. "Time's Up" follows the same style but with a bit of energy and dynamics. The third track is the one I love from "in Transit" live album, i.e. "Wind Him Up". The only chief reason to love this track is its dynamic and excellent melody. In a way this track pictures the situation in the 80s when i took college degree in Bandung. I kept playing this track when I did the study in the evening, at my room. What a life - really! "Amnesia" follows in a slower style with some guitar rhythm that reminds me to the sort of reggae music.

Now I realize that I can appreciate more on tracks like "Interview" with its lyrics - especially, as well as with "Conversation" with its keyboard solo. "No Regrets" has been familiar with me since I heard for the first time in the "In Transit" album.

Overall, I really enjoy this album especially now I am playing it through my cassette collection instead of CD which actually I have it already. Recently, I am much more interested to play cassette than CD or MP3 as by playing the cassette I can get full nuances of the album as it was released in the past when CD was not born yet. Keep on proggin' ...!!!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#837586)
Posted Saturday, October 13, 2012 | Review Permalink

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