Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography



Crossover Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Saga Marathon album cover
3.30 | 127 ratings | 9 reviews | 9% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

Write a review

Buy SAGA Music
from partners
Studio Album, released in 2003

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Marathon (4:59)
2. How Are You? (5:22)
3. Breathing Lessons (4:25)
4. Hands Up (3:44)
5. Streets Of Gold (Chapter 14) (5:11)
6. Blind Side Of The Heart (4:35)
7. Return To Forever (4:26)
8. You Know I Know (Chapter 12) (4:36)
9. Too Deep (4:21)
10. Rise & Shine (3:32)
11. Worlds Apart (Chapter 16) (6:10)

Total Time: 51:21

Line-up / Musicians

- Michael Sadler / lead vocals, keyboards
- Ian Crichton / guitar
- Jim Gilmour / keyboards, vocals
- Jim Crichton / bass, keyboards, production
- Steve Negus / drums, percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Eric Fulghum

CD True North Records ‎- TND 302 (2003, Canada)
CD Steamhammer ‎- SPV 085-74822 CD (2003, Germany)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy SAGA Marathon Music

SAGA Marathon ratings distribution

(127 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(9%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
Good, but non-essential (44%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

SAGA Marathon reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Hibou
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Like many prolific artists, SAGA let go a few musical farts in their time. And after hearing "Marathon" only once, I thought it all sounded way too familiar - the guys are cruising on automatic pilot once more, thought I. After hearing it a couple of more times, however, something unexpected happened: none of the tunes sounded the same anymore. I finally got on with my life but found myself humming some weird musical tidbits in the oddest places - at work, in a crowded restaurant, in my sleep. Huhh??? As if some chords or catchy passages were constantly/subconsciously simmering in the back of my mind. It was maddening, driving me nuts. So I went and picked up the album once more...

I've concluded that alongwith the inimitable "Generation 13", "Marathon" is one of the better SAGA albums I own. It does not contain any 'hit' songs per se (if you exclude the opener "Marathon" and the ballad "Blind Side of Your Heart"); but its depth and the solid penmanship that went into its making is obvious and the results highly pleasurable. The production is impeccable, the guys have perfected their drum and guitar licks to a 'T', and Michael Sadler is as charismatic as ever. As is the case with most SAGA material, however, the material on "Marathon" is non too complicated (it does not feature many themes or tempo changes). But what IS there is professionally done and sounds crisp and pleasant enough to my ears. A nice piece of light entertainment if you're in the mood for some solid Art Rocking (or polished pop, if you prefer).

Review by Muzikman
3 stars Saga is "worlds apart" from the sound that made them internationally recognized music stars with their new album Marathon. In some obvious ways they sound very much like that keyboard dominated band from the '80s and often times they sound heavier, with more upfront guitars. The mixture is one that may attract an audience that was previously unavailable while also satisfying some of their longtime fans.

I was disappointed with the consistency and lack of variety on this album. This kind of music does not allow too much variance, and it is because of a formula the band refuses to change. Perhaps if they try some new instruments like adding some horns or doing a ballad with acoustic guitar their sound would have a chance to develop into something more than it always has been, just for the sake of doing something different. I think the potential is there for growth in a definite fusion direction if they choose, a darker heavier sound like popular neo-prog groups have, but I somehow doubt that will ever happen. The genre they fall into certainly is no longer progressive rock -- art rock or hard rock with elements of pop it most certainly is. I hear a group that could be so much more. Regardless, there has to be something working in order to maintain their longevity.

I think longtime fans would find some value in this release and first time listeners could appreciate this album. I never heard any albums in between Worlds Apart and Marathon so I really do not know if they went through any major changes with their sound. As far as I can tell, there is not very much difference in their overall sound more than twenty years later. I honestly did not enjoy this album as much after listening to it for a second time and that is not a good sign, which points to boredom and disinterest the third time I give it a spin. Well, I know I have the one album by Saga that means the most in my collection, and it is not this one.

Review by progrules
3 stars Maybe I was a bit too much of a die hard fan when I decided yet to go for Marathon in 2003. The two predecessors left me cold and were almost disappointing to me but probably I kept hoping for a recovery.

But I wasn't rewarded with this purchase. Fortunately this particular edition was a sale but I almost would like to say it's not worth the full price if you're planning the purchase. The only reason to buy the three albums in the period 1999-2003 is to complete the chapters. An idea that was already launched in the late seventies with Images as Chapter One and Worlds Apart as Chapter 16 on this very release. The chapters run like a thread through all the decades of their career.

At least that's a very nice achievement but to say it lifts the mentioned latter albums to an extremely high level I'd say: no. An album like Security of Illusion really moved me and made me realize why I'm a Saga fan. But the mentioned three around the millenium change made me wonder and that's too bad. Barely three stars once again as well for Marathon.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars Saga's second album from this decade and also from this millenium entitled Marathon from 2003. Well to tell you the truth this album is less convinceing than Full circle for ex, or anything they released between 1979-1984. The music is well plays, typical for a Saga album, but sometimes is more popish in places. Anyway Marathon is another ex of good perseverence in Saga's catalogue with good tunes like:How Are You?, Breathing Lessons, Blind Side Of The Heart , the rest are also good, but not entirely a well rounded and very convinceing album. Marathon desearves a full 3 stars for sure, is another good album in Saga's career. Sadler's voice is agin excellent, great voice and unique aswell. Great interplays between popish elemets with prog arrangements. So if you want to discover some Saga's album don't missed this one, but don't biggin with Marathon aswell, try some early stuff. Good but non essential.
Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars The final chapter in the original Saga

2003's Marathon was the third in a trio of interconnected Saga albums that begun with Full Circle in 1999 and continued with House Of Cards in 2001. These three albums all harked back to the band's earliest days and all featured (an updated version of) the paradigmatic insect on the sleeve. The latter is here portrayed as a kind of modern-day comic book superhero which suits the band's image perfectly. These three albums also featured chapters 9 through 16 of "the chapters" song cycle (that was originally started with the band's debut album in 1978 and continued on the next three albums to then be laid to rest for nearly 20 years before it was resurrected on the Full Circle album). Like the previous House Of Cards, Marathon is a very typical Saga album. All of the band's trademarks are here: the distinctive vocals of Michael Sadler, the characteristic "pompous" guitar and keyboard sound, the usual clean production, the archetypal catchy melodies, the reoccuring cheesy lyrics, the habitual progressive touches, the aforementioned emblematic insect on the sleeve, further "chapters", and so on. Marathon is another good Saga album, but after House Of Cards it does sound like more of the same. It is not like they sound uninspired here, not at all. It is just that this album adds very little of value to what they already gave us on the previous album. These are both good albums, but this "marathon" of good albums was bound to start sounding formulaic and samey at some point. Thankfully, the band would continue to make good and even great albums until the present day.

Every Saga fan probably needed to hear the 16th and final chapter in the Saga that begun all the way back in 1978. Interestingly the final chapter is named after one of the band's most well-known classic albums - Worlds Apart. The song is a worthy album closer as well as a worthy closing song of the long song cycle, but like the album as a whole, it sounds a bit like more of the same. In 2005 a live album was released featuring all 16 chapters (old and new) in their numerical order.

Marathon is a good, but formulaic Saga album. Fans of albums like House Of Cards, Heads Or Tales and Worlds Apart will most certainly enjoy it (as I do), but I doubt that it will take anybody by storm. Still, this album is better than most things Saga did in the 80's and 90's.

Review by Gooner
4 stars I am of the opinion that Michael Sadler is one of the premier vocalists in progressive rock in the vein of Jon Anderson and John Wetton as much of an acquired taste is he. However, from 1993's "The Security Of illusion" all the way up to 2001's "House Of Cards", Michael Sadler developed an irritating vocal delivery that was drawn out and breathy which made it extremely difficult for this listener to get through those Saga albums from that time period. Call it the "Bono-syndrome" or whatever. Saga was slowly losing me as a fan and creeping me out at the same time.

Enter the album "Marathon" in 2003 and it's as though Sadler sowed his wild oats with that past experiment. Michael Sadler sounds assertive and in charge of the vocal duties here. Gone is the drawn out and irritating breathy vocals. His vocal style harkens back to "World's Apart/Heads Or Tales", although a tad more aggressive. Ian Crichton on guitar is at the top of his game and Steve Negus has never been more impressive on the drum kit. This is an album that is not quite immediate as others, but over repeated listens is quite rewarding. The big highlight is the 2nd track "How Are You?" and track #7 "Return To Forever" where Saga show off their chops(not unlike the jam in Humble Stance of yesteryears).

This whole "Marathon" album is solid and a great new chapter in Saga history. It would appeal to listeners curious of Progressive Metal without many of its cliches. A great hybrid of symphonic, eclectic/quirky melodies(slight Gentle Giant-isms) and hard progressive rock in a Steve Morse/Dream Theater style. Bands like Queensryche and Rush should take note of what Saga is doing here. Saga earns the title of progressive rock in the 2000s, whereas the 'ryche and Rush might make a modern prog.rock album if we quit calling them progressive rock.

Recommended for Saga fans that had lost touch with them around the "Behaviour/Wildest Dreams" albums. Keyboards-a-plenty too! No hits. Just SAGA!

Review by kev rowland
3 stars There aren't too many prog bands from Canada, certainly not with the history behind them like Saga who released their debut album some twenty-five years ago. Three of the current line-up played on that album, with lead keyboard player Jim Gilmour joining in 1981. While it is his links in with guitarist Ian Crichton and bassist/keys Jim Crichton that provide the musical heart of the band it is also singer/keyboard player Michael Sadler that gives the band their most distinctive sound. There are not many rock bands that utilise as many keyboard players as these guys, but strangely the focus is on providing good strong rock with melodic hooks as opposed to an out and out keyboard blast.

They can probably also lay claim to producing the longest ever concept album, in that 'chapters' are still appearing as they did on the first album, although of course they are never in sequence. This album sees the appearance of chapters 14, 12 and 16. The opening title cut is a blast from start to finish, and it is only the tongue in cheek lyrics that let it down (pronouncing "Marathon" to rhyme with "Avalon"). They may drift a little on the slower numbers but on songs such as "Hands Up" it sounds as if the Eighties have never been away as they mix pomp and prog in a way that is undoubtedly their very own.

They may appeal to keyboard oriented for melodic rockers, or possibly too AOR for progheads but for those who can work their way past the labels and just enjoy the music there is plenty of strong stuff here to be heard.

Originally appeared in Feedback #73, Jun 03

Latest members reviews

4 stars In my opinion this is still a very good album. Maybe I don't like so much the "new style" they're looking for, but I must admit they're still makin' good music. Let's see... 'Marathon', 'Breathing Lessons', 'Streets of Gold' and overall 'Return To Forever' and 'Worlds Apart' are beatuiful mast ... (read more)

Report this review (#17461) | Posted by porcupine_boy | Wednesday, December 22, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars If you are a SAGA fan and don't have this one get it. It will grow on you. Also if you own all of their albums with songs that have the chapters (ex. "World's Apart Chapter16") you can make one hell of a greatest hits CD. Just put them on in order Chapter1, 2 etc. Have fun & enjoy SAGA always. ... (read more)

Report this review (#17455) | Posted by | Thursday, December 11, 2003 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of SAGA "Marathon"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.