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Saga Steel Umbrellas album cover
2.13 | 109 ratings | 8 reviews | 6% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1994

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Why Not? (4:18)
2. (You Were) Never Alone (4:27)
3. Bet on This (3:53)
4. Shake That Tree (4:17)
5. Password Pirate/Access Code/Password... (3:35)
6. I Walk With You (4:01)
7. (Walking on) Thin Ice (4:46)
8. Steamroller (4:12)
9. Say Goodbye to Hollywood (4:33)
10. Feed the Fire (4:13)

Total Time: 42:15

Bonus track on 2002 & 2015 reissues:
11. I Walk With You (Live)

Extra bonus tracks on 2015 reissue:
12. On My Way (Live *) (5:13)
13. On The Loose (Live *) (4:34)

* Recorded at Fabrik, Hamburg in April 2015

Line-up / Musicians

- Michael Sadler / lead vocals
- Ian Crichton / lead & rhythm guitars
- Jim Gilmour / keyboards, lead vocals
- Jim Crichton / bass, co-producer
- Steve Negus / percussion, drums

- Stu Saddoris / backing vocals
- Paula Mattioli / backing vocals
- Fred White / backing vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Joannis and Stephen Jacaruso for Vivid Images

CD Bon Aire ‎- Bon 0012 (1994, Canada)
CD Steamhammer ‎- SPV 076-7438A CD (2002, Germany) Remastered (?) with a bonus Live track
CD Ear Music ‎- 0210378EMU (2015, Germany) Remastered with 3 bonus Live tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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SAGA Steel Umbrellas ratings distribution

(109 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(6%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(12%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (40%)
Poor. Only for completionists (18%)

SAGA Steel Umbrellas reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Hibou
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Many critics can't stomach this album and frankly, I admit I don't like it much either. It contains far too few memorable tracks but in all fairness, the ones that do work ought to be mentioned. There's a definite jazzy feel to some of these tunes that grows on you. The opening track "Why Not" is a firy rocker in the purest SAGA tradition and is by far the best cut of the album. "Shake That Tree" gets into a groove I find very hard to resist. "Steamroller" is a funky little number la Jeff Beck (of course, Mr. Beck's contribution would have been a welcome addition here, although the horn section acts as an honourable substitute). Finally, the two 'tear jerkers' "I Walk With You" and "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" sound a bit sappy, but I have to admit it takes a special talent to come up with such ditties - to my knowledge, only Elton John and Alan Parsons (and perhaps a few other pop geniuses I can't think of) are capable of similar feats. No, "Steel Umbrellas" is definitely not SAGA's best. For the few tracks mentioned above, however, I'll grant them a passing grade.
Review by Fishy
2 stars Back in 1994, I heard this album was initially recorded for a try out of a new recording studio. Don't know if this story is true but it sure sounds like it. The production sounds expensive but that's the really the only spectacular thing to write of. This album came as a shock, a year after the release of "The security of illusion", the previous Saga album. TSU was more or less a return to form. Around that time, I saw them performing live with all that classics from the first 5 albums in the live set, avoiding all the albums that were released after 1984. I never expected the Saga boys to release another album of pure pop, just to let you know that SU is not a typical Saga album. "Behaviour" is the only album which shows some similarities to this album and the song writing on that album was even better than the tracks you get in this effort. But no one will state that "Behaviour" is a good Saga-album either.

The first track is easily the best of the bunch. "Why not" has a typical eighties production with its exotic electronic percussion but in essence, this is a good Saga track. There's some typical Saga melodies and you can catch some groovy atmospheres which gives room to breathe for the wonderful guitar lines of Ian Crichton.'s terribly streamlined and soft. The other highlight "Shake that tree" has Jim Gilmour on vocals. This is another soft popish track with the guitar parts mixed to the background, funky eighties bass lines and an exotic female background choir. Underneath the smooth production you can hear all the elements of a decent Saga pop song and I always liked the voice of Jim for a couple of songs.... "Password pirate" is another pop track which is totally unlike Saga ; interesting to hear how the band takes a completely different course and manages to lay down some sparkling pop melodies that made me give it another spin. The "Das Boot" electronic vocals sure sounds fashionable and the track has a nice flow with its rhythms changing rapidly.

If you're looking for some pathetic ballads, seek no further. "I walk with you" may be a tender sounding track, I can't imagine someone will long to listen to this a second time. Same thing goes for "never alone", a romantic melody, smooth production, good chorus with nice backing vocal harmonies but all in all, this is forgettable AOR.

Some people keep saying that Saga is more a rock/pop band than a progressive band ; these people should check this album out to prove they're absolutely right. There really is not a note of progressive rock music to discover on this album. Fortunately, this Canadian band do have other albums where the progressive tendencies are more to the fore.

If you take a look at the pictures on the cover of "Steel umbrellas", you should know what to expect of this album. Unless you're on a holiday on a warm island full of sunny beaches, you'll not be interested in hearing this. "Steel umbrellas" is definitely a light version of Saga. I believe they tried to organise a sell out with this release but fortunately they failed cause this album sold poorly. Recommended for Saga purists only.

Review by rushfan4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator

Saga is one of those elusive long-time progressive rock bands that I never knew about until the past few years, but once I finally discovered them I was hooked. I have heard Saga described as Rush's little brother, and maybe there are some similarities, but I think that the similarities stop at being Canadian progressive hard rock bands. At the time that I type this review, Saga are currently classified as prog-related. In my opinion, they have released a number of albums that are fine examples of crossover prog. Steel Umbrellas is not one of those albums. Steel Umbrellas is one of those albums that makes you look at the line-up list to see which key members were replaced by who. Sadly, unlike some of the other long-time prog bands, there were no changes in personnel and this album is the result of the work of all of the core members of Saga. Saga were never the kind of progressive rock band that are going to amaze you with their innovative playing or ground breaking sounds, but they are the kind of progressive rock band that were good at producing really good melodic songs with the inclusion of progressive touches scattered throughout most of their songs. On Steel Umbrellas, there is hardly a touch of that progressive rock sound to be found. The drumming is decent, but it seems as though the same beat rarely changes within a song. A few decent guitar riffs are found here and there but it is mostly unmemorable. Even the keyboard playing is lacking on this album.

Alright, now that I got that out of the way and off of my chest, Steel Umbrellas is still a decent pop album, that many artists would be lucky to be able to create. Why Not is probably the pick of the litter of this album with some decent drumming and guitar work. The next best songs are probably Shake That Tree and Password Pirate, which has a little bit of quirkiness to it. Songs like (You We're) Never Alone, I Walk With You, and Say Goodbye to Hollywood are all decent sounding slower songs/ballads. Musically, very little interesting happens within these songs, but the melodies and the sentiments are nice. Lastly, the song Steamroller is somewhat interesting musically as it is a bit funky and includes some horns on it. Unfortunately, it also includes some of the worst lyrics ever. I want you to remember me, so rub my bumper nice and clean, if it's good for you, it's good for me. Don't you want to ride a... Steamroller. Like, ewww, no. Not even David Lee Roth tried to pull off words this bad.

This is one of those albums that teeters between being 1 star or 2 stars. I guess that it isn't poor per se, but it also isn't that good, so that would lead me to give it 2 stars. I'd say that fans of Saga might be like me and be OK with this album. On the other hand, non-Saga fans who are also prog rock fans will probably want to definitely stay away from this one.

Thankfully, Saga came back the following year with their concept album Generation 13, which quite possibly might be their best and most progressive work.

Review by debrewguy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars Whaaa Happened ???

Not having gone through their entire discography, I can't comment on other albums where Saga has gone pop.

But this album, from the point of view of this person, who loves Heads or Tales, finds the Human Condition & Worlds Apart excellent albums, well ...

I'll present the two good things I can say - yes, Shake the Tree is good pop. Not that I like it, but it could have merited a place on Adult contemporary radio in the 80s. And I kind of like Password Pirate/Access Code/Password. But is it just that it stands out from a mediocre bunch of songs ?

And that's the thing. Steel Umbrellas is full blown 80s Adult Contemporary. Phil Collins, Sting, and many others put out some good albums of that style back then. Saga, arrives 15 years too late, and short on the compositional end of things.

Really not of interest to the prog fan, barely needed if you're a Saga fan. Unless you're a completist , this is not one you'll miss. Unless you miss 80s radio.

Review by progrules
2 stars I'm afraid I will have to join the bashing of this album looking at the average rating. Well, bashing sounds a bit as if it's done in an unfair way but really, this album had it coming. It's almost as if the guys have made an agreement: hey let's make a real poor one this time after our pretty nice success with Security of Illusion. As if it's some sort of sick bet to prove they really can do that. But it's not logical; why should they ? And a record company would never agree to something like that, would they ...?

No really, all joking aside, I don't know what Saga was thinking here. I mean, Wildest Dreams and Pleasure and the Pain have also been criticized but this Steel Umbrellas is right up there with Saga's three worst albums in their discography. And they almost had me fooled with the opener Why Not? which is not really an awful song, but the next three (or four) proved why this release has such a poor reputation. Main problem are the drums. Negus is an excellent drummer but he was either uninspired or totally out of form here. And why did the rest of the band allow this one dimensional performance on almost all songs ? Even I could (almost) do this. It's way below Saga standard. And this also goes for the other instruments same as for just about all the compositions as well as production quality by the way.

The only one who's performing on normal level is mr Sadler but that's not enough of course. So a very mediocre album to say the least. It's poor really especially compared to most of their other efforts. I could even give one for this but my outmost respect for one of my favorite bands of all time prevents me from doing so and I will round up in the end (1,5).

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars Walking on thin ice

Steel Umbrellas was for a long time the only album missing from my Saga collection. When I finally found it (on Spotify) I was expecting the worst given the very low average rating it has on this website (at the time of writing it is the lowest rated Saga studio album of all here). After having listened to it now, I must say that it is not quite as bad as I expected. Still, it is certainly among the least good Saga albums of all time together with Behavior, Wildest Dreams, and The Pleasure & The Pain. What is most astonishing of all is that this album was released between two very good Saga albums; the strong The Security Of Illusion from the year before and the conceptual masterpiece Generation 13 from the year after. Judged in the narrow context of its immediate surroundings, Steel Umbrellas is indeed extremely disappointing and that might be the primary reason for which it is rated as low as it is. But judged in the slightly wider context of the band's output from the 90's and second half of the 80's, it is not that unsatisfactory.

Steel Umbrellas certainly does not sound at all like the follow up to The Security Of Illusion or the predecessor to Generation 13, but rather much more like if it came out of the mid- 80's. Had this album been released say, between 1985's Behavior and 1987's Wildest Dreams, it would surely had been better received than it was in 1994. Overall, this era (the 90's and second half of the 80's) was musically a very turbulent one in Saga's discography with the quality of their output varying widely and erratically from the best to the worst. During this period, they also seemed unsure about their identity and not knowing quite what direction to take. While The Security Of Illusion saw the band stepping into 90's, with Steel Umbrellas they reverted to their earlier mid-80's sound - perhaps triggered by this identity crisis? Some would perhaps say that the material here sounds like leftovers from the mid-80's, but I think it is up to par with, if not better than, those aforementioned weak mid- 80's albums.

The album opener Why Not, Shake That Tree, and the ballad I Walk With You (best experienced in the bonus acoustic live version) are among the better songs here, while the bluesy Steamroller is the worst. The other songs are generally on the soft Pop side and as such they lack the energy and power for which Saga is best known.

Recommended primarily for fans, especially those fans who enjoy the band's mid-80's period.

Latest members reviews

1 stars The led balloon. The very good The Security of Illusion album was hailed as a return to form for Saga after some rather dubious albums. After some tours promoting that album, Saga wrote some music meant for a movie score. The movie never materialized though. OK, this may be an excuse for th ... (read more)

Report this review (#313276) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Thursday, November 11, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I've ever thought this album was made only to gain enough money and time to make their next album 'Generation 13' and if you hear to that album you'll probably guess the same. Anyway, there are some good songs in this album just like the first one 'Why Not', very pop and strong at the same tim ... (read more)

Report this review (#17516) | Posted by porcupine_boy | Wednesday, December 22, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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