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Saga House Of Cards album cover
3.54 | 156 ratings | 13 reviews | 17% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2001

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. God Knows (5:29)
2. The Runaway (5:35)
3. Always There (3:52)
3. Ashes To Ashes (Chapter 11) (5:05)
4. Once In A Lifetime (4:21)
5. Only Human (4:20)
6. That's How We Like It (4:49)
7. Watching The Clock (Instrumental) (1:39)
8. We'll Meet Again (Chapter 15) (5:58)
9. Money Talks (4:07)
10. House Of Cards (4:20)

Total Time: 49:54

Line-up / Musicians

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

Releases information

Artwork: Eric Fulghum

CD True North Records ‎- TND 229 (2001, Canada)
CD Steamhammer ‎- SPV 085-7216A CD (2001, Germany)

LP Steamhammer ‎- SPV 72161 LP (2011, Germany)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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SAGA House Of Cards ratings distribution

(156 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
Good, but non-essential (40%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

SAGA House Of Cards reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Marc Baum
5 stars This album earns without doubt five stars! "Full Circle" was a great record too, but "House Of Cards" got a bigger production and the more transparent songwriting. I hadn't change any note on this record, all is perfect in my oppinion and hit follows hit. This album isn't as symphonic as "Full Circle" and it souns like it was made for a bigger audience, but it's still progressive. For new listeners "House Of Cards" is the nearly perfect beginning. Here are some play-on tips: The brilliant earworms "Always There", "Only Human", "We'll Meet Again" and "Money Talks" with it's tramendous great hooks (!), the very atmospheric sounding "Ashes to Ashes (Chapter 11)", the typical Saga track "God Knows" or the anthemic "That's How We Like It" (ups, that was close the whole album!). There isn't any low point to call at all, every song is on the same high level, so I recommend to listen the whole album. The guitar work is worldclass, Michael Sadler is in top-notch form, the keys are brilliantly intigrated into the band sound. A perfect record by a worldclass act!
Review by NJprogfan
3 stars Having been a fan of this band since their heyday in the early 80's, I remember their video for "On The Loose" which prompt me to purchase the "World's Apart" album. Since then, I believe with the exception of "Generation 13", Saga hasn't progressed much. And it's certainly true with this album. The album starts out with "God Knows" and some background talking ala "Generation 13". The song is typical Saga with keyboards mainly coloring the song with Crighton's guitar and Sadler's voice the main showcase, but that's what you usually get with Saga, so I'm not griping, it's just a fact. There's not many bands doing this type of Popprog as well as they do it, (IZZ, the possible exception). "The Runawway", "Ashes To Ashes", "We'll Meet Again" harken back to their early days and a song like "That's How We Like It!" sounds like a 90's Rush throwaway. Some songs are pretty ("Only Human" and the instrumental "Watching The Clock") and others have the Saga stamp of pomp ("Money Talks" and the title track). I have the Canadian edition which sports a bonus track called "So Good So Far" a typical pomp/art rock track. I've always categorized Saga as a band that make accessible art/pomp/prog rock for the masses. Doesn't hurt and can be fun, but if you're looking for complexity, look eleswhere. A solid three-star affair, this one.
Review by progrules
3 stars Saga's first album of the new millenium didn't really cause a shock or led to a totally new sound. In fact it's Full Circle II to me and I even could copy my previous review on this release just as well. I will not do so because it's against my ethics but it's hard to write a review if there's not much significant to say.

Saga probably decided to play safe for a while after their highly interesting and almost sensational Generation 13 from 1995. It would have been brilliant if they had managed to proceed in this style but maybe it's not really fair to expect this after such a unique "once in a lifetime" album. So I will forgive them for that. But instead we got this underwhelming trio in the period 1999-2003 and it's almost the other extremity I'm sorry to say.

If I'm at my most harsh and negative I could state that I have to make an effort not to fall asleep with this triptych of mentioned period. The albums aren't as poor as Wildest Dreams (1987 when the band almost fell apart) or the artificial Steel Umbrellas (1994) but they are far from their career highlights in my humble opinion. Again three stars.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars That's how we like it!

When considering albums like 1999's Full Circle, the present one from 2001 and 2003's Marathon, that all hark back to the band's earliest days in terms of both style and quality, it is easy to forget what Saga did in between. Don't get me wrong, some of the band's best albums are from this in-between-period including the excellent The Security Of Illusion and the conceptual masterpiece Generation 13. But their discography had up till this point been a very "bumpy ride" with many ups and downs. From Full Circle onwards, however, Saga entered a state of unprecedented stability and managed to release a long series of good albums in the new millennium.

Like the appropriately titled Full Circle, House Of Cards also features the paradigmatic insect on the sleeve and it too features "chapters". For those of you that might not remember, Saga's first four albums in the late 70's and early 80's all included songs that were subtitled 'Chapter #'. After eight chapters spread over these four original albums, the gimmick was abandoned. After nearly 20 years, the idea was resurrected. The present album features two further chapters (the 11th and the 15th). With yet further chapters on the next album, we would eventually be treated with a further eight chapters in total over the course of these three albums and in 2005 a live album was released featuring all 16 chapters (old and new) in their numerical order.

Compared to Full Circle, House Of Cards is perhaps slightly more similar to the famed Worlds Apart and Heads Or Tales albums. This means a slightly more streamlined and pristinely produced sound and strongly melodic tunes and also some occasional cheesy lyrics! In many ways House Of Cards is a paradigmatic Saga album - it simply cannot be more Saga than this! If a reference to another band must be made, I would choose John Payne-era Asia, especially good Asia albums like Aria and Arena. But Saga is more progressive.

In conclusion, House Of Cards is a very worthy follow-up to Full Circle and a pretty solid album in its own right. Recommended!

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After the previous album which was significant return to form for that Canadian band, this one is really very good. In fact, I think it's one of the best their albums of all time.

All the songs have melodies, sound are clear and very professional, music is a bit more rock, but with strong pop-melodism. Yes, it is the same Saga and the same music style you are waiting for ( at least -in their best albums), no surprises. But everything is done at the highest level.

If you want to have just one Saga album ( and don't like compilations), this one is for you. The album is good as entrance to Saga music for newcomers as well. High quality prog pop-rock.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars House of cards issued in 2001 is anatural follow up of the excellent Full circle. Same attitude as on previous album and aswell same as the next one Marathon, that means good all the way. Saga offers that typical progressive rock with some neo elements thrown in and some AOR passages, a distinctive sound since the beggining. House of cards is a good album for sure, I like this band a lot, own almost everything they released across the years. melodic music , not comercial but pleasent enough for most of the prog heads. Sadlers voice is excellent, and the musical arrangements aswell, like on opening track God knows and on The runaways. The beautiful short instrumental track named Watching the clock is another highlight for me, showing the fragile and melacholic side of Saga, some great piano moments here. All in all a good towards great album, in Saga manner, a sound that we are used since 1978. 3.5 stars.
Review by kev rowland
3 stars It is hard to believe that it is more than a year since I saw Saga at the LA2 promoting their last album 'Full Circle' yet here they are back again with a new album which is out in the UK on February 5th. Saga are one of the few prog/AOR bands around that have an instantly identifiable sound, with the distinctive vocals of Michael Sadler mixing and melding with the keyboard-driven rock. On songs like "The Runaway" I can close my eyes and picture myself back in my bedroom as a teenager listening to their second album 'Images At Twilight', the music doesn't seem to have changed much at all. Yes, they bring in new influences, so that they do not sound as if they are trying all of the time to play the same song all of the time, but this is Saga, and they don't follow the fickles of fashion but go their own way. They use acoustic guitars at times, and not all of the songs are upbeat rockers but it is on these that Saga excels. A worthy follow-up to their last album.

Originally appeared in Feedback #61, Feb 01

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Saga's 14th album (and counting) as the albums continue to add up. At this point, which happens to be 2001, Saga seemed to have settled on a sound that isn't technically difficult to listen to (in prog terms anyway), yet still more complex than popular music, not trying to chase the radio-friendliness that they were trying to attain in the 80's, thank goodness. "House of Cards" is sitting in that sweet spot quite well, however, it suffers a bit since it gets lumped together among the albums they released at the time and, if you aren't paying a lot of attention, it can become quite average. But, again, it's much better than what they had been doing 10 years before.

After their amazing release in 1995, "Generation 13", the band stepped back a little, but they didn't overdo it like they did before. The band still has that unique sound that they acquired in the first part of their career with Sadler's vocals, the Crichton brothers guitar and bass work and Gilmour's excellent keys. On this particular album, for the most part, they tend to keep things on an even keel, never getting to heavy and complex, but never really reverting to 100% pop either. The music is enjoyable, has it's share of good hooks, but also has nothing that makes it stand out from their many albums. It's a pretty average Saga album.

Two more "Chapters" are added to the Einstein story, and those are probably the most memorable of the tracks. However, there is a bonus track stuck in the middle of the album on the Canadian version of the album "So Good So Far" which strangely enough, is one of the better tracks. The verses contain "rhythmic spoken word" sections that are not typical of the band, plus the instrumental break sounds very much like classic Saga. It's an upbeat break from the more moderate and lower key songs on the album.

There just isn't much else to say about it. If you know Saga's style and sound, it's quite typical of that from around the same time frame as the albums around it. Good, but not great, but occasionally rising above, and definitely better than their albums they released from '85 - '94. I give this a 3.5 rating, but because of it's average feel, round it down to 3 stars. Good, but non-essential pretty much sums it up.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Saga Discography to this point: (My ratings) The Foundational First Four - 1978-1981: Saga, Images At Twilight, Silent Knight, World's Apart The Falling Flat Four - 1982-1991: Heads Or Tales, Behaviour, Wildest Dreams, The Beginners Guide to Throwing Shapes The Up And Down 5 - Security ... (read more)

Report this review (#2936738) | Posted by Sidscrat | Friday, June 30, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Saga is a band I've met recently, but that has captivated me with some of his early work. There is not too progressive attitudes in most of his works really. But his first albums released in the dark period of progressive rock, are some of the best that occurred at the time. And today are also ... (read more)

Report this review (#941563) | Posted by sinslice | Tuesday, April 9, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars After hearing Saga's return to form CD,"Full Circle" & loved it,I thought the next one would be as good or a little better,but I was wrong ,this is a lot better,better hooks ,better production ,better feel.They have deftly created their best work since "World's Apart".The mix of prog & tastefu ... (read more)

Report this review (#51282) | Posted by nordwind | Tuesday, October 11, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I think this is a very good album, but definitively not the best. No doubt 'The Runnaway' is the higher point of the album and also one of the best songs of the band. The weakest point of the album in my opinion is 'Ashes to ashes' a little depressive for me. The pop songs 'Always there', 'Onc ... (read more)

Report this review (#17581) | Posted by porcupine_boy | Wednesday, December 22, 2004 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Over recent years, albums from Canadian prog/pomp mega-stars Saga have been a mixed bag: some were absolutely awesome; some were, well, absolutely not. There's nothing shaky, however, about their new "House Of Cards," a tight, focused return to their classic, early '80s form. Their mastery of mo ... (read more)

Report this review (#17579) | Posted by | Thursday, July 8, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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