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Saga Pleasure & The Pain album cover
2.20 | 99 ratings | 13 reviews | 4% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1997

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Heaven Can Wait (6:13)
2. How Do You Feel (4:05)
3. Welcome To The Zoo (4:28)
4. Where's My Money (5:17)
5. You're Not Alone '97 (4:17)
6. Tax Man (3:35)
7. You Were Made For Me (3:44)
8. Gonna Give It To Ya (3:56)
9. Fantastically Wrong (5:47)
10. Pleasure And The Pain (2:35)

Total Time: 43:57

Bonus track on 2002 reissue:
11. Welcome To The Zoo (Live) (4:22)

Bonus tracks on 2016 reissue:
11. Time To Go (Live) (4:11)
12. You're Not Alone (Live) (5:59)

Line-up / Musicians

- Michael Sadler / lead & backing vocals, keyboards
- Ian Crichton / lead & rhythm guitars
- Jim Gilmour / keyboards, lead vocals
- Jim Crichton / bass, keyboards, producer
- Glen Sobel / drums, percussion

- Mike Thorne / drums (11,12)

Releases information

CD Polydor ‎- 537 484-2 (1997, Germany)
CD Bon Aire ‎- BNA 0016 (1997, US) Different cover art
CD Steamhammer ‎- SPV 076-7288A CD (2002, Germany) Remastered (?) with a bonus Live track
CD Ear Music ‎- 0210390EMU (2016, Germany) Remastered by Alexander Dietz & Eike Freese with 2 bonus Live tracks (at Fabrik, Hamburg in April 2015)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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SAGA Pleasure & The Pain ratings distribution

(99 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(4%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(10%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (32%)
Poor. Only for completionists (33%)

SAGA Pleasure & The Pain reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by 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"!
Review by progrules
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.

Review by debrewguy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
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.

Latest members reviews

1 stars WTH!? De ja vue, the voodoo is in you?.. This is so weird. Just when you think that Saga is on a roll, they roll off the ledge. After putting out a group of poor records after their Foundational First Four, they came back with "The Security Of Illusion" and recaptured some decent credibility onl ... (read more)

Report this review (#2936731) | Posted by Sidscrat | Friday, June 30, 2023 | Review Permanlink

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, w ... (read more)

Report this review (#209792) | Posted by Walter Kovacs | Thursday, April 2, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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 alternat ... (read more)

Report this review (#125583) | Posted by fusaka | Tuesday, June 12, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#105009) | Posted by fairyliar | Sunday, December 31, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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 de ... (read more)

Report this review (#64272) | Posted by | Wednesday, January 11, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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. ... (read more)

Report this review (#45310) | Posted by | Friday, September 2, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#39232) | Posted by fractalman | Tuesday, July 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#17477) | Posted by adrian coleman | Friday, February 4, 2005 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Donīt 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, ... (read more)

Report this review (#17480) | Posted by | Tuesday, August 24, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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