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SAGA

Crossover Prog • Canada


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Saga biography
Formed in 1977 in Oakville, Ontario, Canada - Disbanded (announced) in 2017

SAGA... one of the most famous Canadian Hard Progresssive with excellent albums including all elements which made the band's reputation: a taste for symphonism and melodies and real talent for efficient riffs.

From 1978 to 1980, SAGA produced a number of quintessentially "progressive" rock albums. These first albums emerged neo-progressive style bands like IQ, PENDRAGON and PALLAS. In the early's 80's they further perfected their style and seemed a bit as viable as their Canadian compatriots RUSH. Until 1989, suddenly SAGA re-emerged with arguably their strongest album to date: "The Beginner's Guide To Throwing Shapes". They went totally haywire in 1995, releasing "Generation 13" to be a real concept album.

Throughout the years, they created their own particular and unique brand of music. Well, they're still around and they are still making great music but unfortunately radio stations no longer play intelligent, riveting, songs anymore. So, if you're into groups like KANSAS, ASIA, RUSH, STYX, or YES, a new dimension of music awaits you... SAGA!

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SAGA discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

SAGA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.68 | 241 ratings
Saga
1978
3.20 | 232 ratings
Images at Twilight
1979
3.69 | 244 ratings
Silent Knight
1980
3.68 | 273 ratings
Worlds Apart
1981
3.56 | 206 ratings
Heads or Tales
1983
3.04 | 150 ratings
Behaviour
1985
2.22 | 114 ratings
Wildest Dreams
1987
3.03 | 108 ratings
The Beginners Guide to Throwing Shapes
1989
3.51 | 128 ratings
The Security Of Illusion
1993
2.12 | 99 ratings
Steel Umbrellas
1994
3.95 | 168 ratings
Generation 13
1995
2.25 | 90 ratings
Pleasure & The Pain
1997
3.48 | 125 ratings
Full Circle
1999
3.51 | 140 ratings
House Of Cards
2001
3.28 | 114 ratings
Marathon
2003
3.46 | 109 ratings
Network
2004
3.81 | 185 ratings
Trust
2006
3.60 | 127 ratings
10.000 Days
2007
3.49 | 114 ratings
The Human Condition
2009
3.28 | 101 ratings
20/20
2012
3.25 | 89 ratings
Sagacity
2014
3.81 | 34 ratings
Symmetry
2021

SAGA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.71 | 111 ratings
In Transit
1982
4.04 | 38 ratings
Detours
1999
3.78 | 39 ratings
The Chapters Live
2005
3.52 | 28 ratings
Worlds Apart Revisited (CD)
2007
2.70 | 24 ratings
Contact Live in Munich
2009
3.11 | 19 ratings
Heads Or Tales Live
2011
4.36 | 11 ratings
Spin It Again! Live in Munich
2013
4.05 | 10 ratings
Live in Hamburg
2016
4.67 | 12 ratings
So Good So Far - Live at Rock of Ages
2018

SAGA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.56 | 18 ratings
Silhouette
2003
4.00 | 15 ratings
All Areas: Live in Bonn 2002
2004
4.43 | 30 ratings
Worlds Apart Revisited
2007
3.60 | 15 ratings
Contact - Live In Munich (DVD)
2009
4.50 | 10 ratings
Spin it again! - Live in Munich
2013

SAGA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.00 | 1 ratings
Saga
1985
3.00 | 3 ratings
Time's Up
1986
2.96 | 15 ratings
The Works
1991
2.00 | 1 ratings
Wind Him Up: Best
1992
4.33 | 12 ratings
All the Best 1978-1993
1993
1.82 | 12 ratings
The Very Best Of Saga
1994
3.16 | 12 ratings
Defining Moments (Volume 1)
1994
2.67 | 6 ratings
Saga Softworks
1995
2.00 | 2 ratings
Wildest Dreams
1995
2.50 | 8 ratings
How Do I Look
1997
2.60 | 5 ratings
Remember When
2006
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Collection
2013
3.85 | 4 ratings
Best Of Saga. Now & Then - The Collection: 1978 - Infinity
2015
2.15 | 4 ratings
The Polydor Legacy
2017

SAGA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 2 ratings
How Long?
1978
2.50 | 2 ratings
Slow Motion
1980
3.00 | 1 ratings
On the Loose
1981
3.00 | 1 ratings
Time's Up
1981
3.00 | 1 ratings
Wind Him Up
1981
3.00 | 1 ratings
Synposis
1981
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Flyer
1983
2.00 | 1 ratings
Scratching the Surface (remixed version)
1983
2.87 | 4 ratings
Scratchin' the Surface
1983
2.00 | 1 ratings
Take a Chance
1985
2.00 | 1 ratings
What Do I Know?
1985
2.00 | 1 ratings
Only Time Will Tell
1987
2.00 | 1 ratings
Angel
1988
2.50 | 2 ratings
Gotta Love It
1991
2.00 | 1 ratings
(You Were) Never Alone
1994
3.50 | 2 ratings
On the Loose
1995
3.14 | 20 ratings
Phase One
1997
3.50 | 6 ratings
Home
1999
3.50 | 6 ratings
Money Talks
2001
4.36 | 13 ratings
It's Your Life
2006

SAGA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Trust by SAGA album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.81 | 185 ratings

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Trust
Saga Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Forum & Site Admin Group Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars "Trust" would be Saga's 17 studio album and was released in 2006. This was during a time when Saga's albums were kind of hit and miss with some of them being really good and others seeming to lack something. This might make them sound like they are inconsistent, but they really aren't at this point. Sure they had their classic albums of the 70's that almost everyone loves, then they had the mediocre and not so great albums of the 80's where they tried hard to fit in to the popular sound, but could never really break into the super-stardom they were searching for. Then they released their masterpiece in 1995, "Generation 13" and ever since then, they have had their ups and downs as far as the quality of the music on their albums. "Trust" is one of those that sits in the really great album category, but not a masterpiece of prog. However, it is one that should be considered one of their best.

Michael Sadler is one of those sometimes over-the-top pomp singers and has the voice for it. The problem is, the band's style doesn't fit well with mainstream radio pop. They are much too talented for that. On the other hand, with Sadler's voice being unique and with Ian Crichton and Jim Gilmore having their own unique styles, the large quantity of songs and albums can start to get a little blurry and unfortunately don't have a lot of emotional variance, which has always been the band's biggest problem. But if you can get past that, the music is quite stellar on this album with only a few mediocre tracks, but with some really well-written songs that this time around end up moving the prog needle to the positive side of the spectrum several times. All of the musicians, including Sadler, give their share of memorable performances. The other thing that sets this album apart is the fact that it is the first album to feature new drummer Brian Doerner, formerly from the metal band "Helix", and this does bring a new level of excitement to the overall sound. He would end up staying with the band until 2012.

So, the band's spirit on this album seems to be much higher and it is apparent on most of the tracks like "Back in the Shadows", "Trust", "You Were Right" and "On the Other Side", among several others. The instrumental sections don't sound so worn out this time around, but it seems like the old spirit and enthusiasm is back. Sadler also tries some new effects with his vocals along with harmonics and that also helps set this apart. There is even a great ballad that stands out here called "My Friend". But there are a few weaker tracks that seem more like the more recent albums were the band (especially Sadler) seems bored like on "I'm Okay", "It's Your Life" and "Ice in the Rain". I think the problem on those tracks is the lack of melodic hooks in the vocal melody more than anything, and the band has suffered with that throughout their history. Luckily, these aren't terrible here on this album and are more of the exception than the rule for this record.

Overall, this is one of the lesser known Saga albums that shouldn't be passed up as readily as some of their others. It is an enjoyable record and the old spirit seems to be back more often on this record than on some of the others. I would rate it up there with one of their best, and as such, it gets a 4 star rating. It rises above the norm for the band more times than it doesn't.

 Generation 13 by SAGA album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.95 | 168 ratings

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Generation 13
Saga Crossover Prog

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

4 stars In the second halve of the nineties modern neo-progressive rock was reinvented by bands like Pallas, Arena, IQ, Pallas ánd Saga. WIth 'Generation 13' Saga released a concept album that is quite sophisticated and progressive compared to their often more crossover prog style. The band leans on the work of Pink Floyd's The Wall when it comes to how varied and psychedelic a concept album should be. Furthermore, the band tries to portray it's own troubled generation here. The album has a slightly vague and dated production that does give it a very distinct neo-prog atmosphere. The guitars of Ian Crichton are great as usual and he plays some of his best riffs on this album (take for instance the main theme 'Generation 13'). Vocalist Michael Sadler sounds a bit less 'pumpin' on this album, more refined I would say. I can also hear some influences of nineties alternative rock on this album. This is the type of concept album that launches different styles of songs in quick succession (symphonic, rock, psychedelic, spacey, folky) and throws around some reprises as well. For instance; a song like 'Danger Whistle' starts like psychedelic folk song, changes into a spacey symphonic track and ends up in a horror-type of film music. It is followed by a psychedelic funky snippet before entering the neo-prog classic title song. There are strange vocal effects and spoken word snippets all over the place and I'm guessing some listeners aren't too happy about it. I must admit that at first I though this album had some great tracks hidden between quite a lot of semi- interesting psychedelic fluff, but the album can grown on you I found. Like most neo-prog it is distinctly hard to 'get into' if you are not already a great fan of the genre. 'Generation 13' is a sort of minor masterpiece of the neo-prog genre and a bold move that might just have inspired groups like IQ and Arena to start working on their own concept albums later in this decade. A remixed / remastered version of this on a double vinyl would be nice (hint to record industry)!
 Images at Twilight by SAGA album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.20 | 232 ratings

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Images at Twilight
Saga Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Forum & Site Admin Group Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

3 stars Released in 1979, Saga's 2nd album "Images at Twilight" is usually considered the weaker of the band's first trilogy of albums. Being a new band, they were still looking for their new sound, wanting to incorporate some progressive aspects, but finding themselves coming into an era of change in the music business. One of the things I admire about the band during this time, is that they tried to stay close to their roots while also trying to fit in to the new sound that was emerging with synth heavy music. Well, they did quite well here, but you can tell for the most part, that the synth parts in this album don't seem quite as mature as they would by the time they released their breakthrough album "Worlds Apart" a few years later.

Another impressive thing about Saga is the 3 person core of the band that has, for the most part, stuck together through the years: Michael Sadler on the vocals and who also is more active on the synths for this album, Ian Crichton on guitars and Jim Crichton on bass (and bass synth on this album). Steve Negus on drums and percussion also remains from the debut album and would be with the band for a total of 26 years. At this point, newcomer Greg Chadd is responsible for most of the keyboards and synths, and, as evidenced in this album, his synth style is not the signature style that Saga is known for, but is more straightforward. His sound may have seemed to be a good fit for this new sound that was coming out, but it wasn't the sound that would put the band over the top. Chadd would also not appear on any other album as he would be replaced by Jim Gilmour, the keyboardist that ended up being another staple of the band and, except for a brief time, would remain with the band until present day.

So, as far as the signature sound of Saga, the sound that would make them famous, "Images at Twilight" doesn't quite give you that satisfaction that the band would become famous for. The synths are just too typical, however, the guitar is quickly moving towards that sound. This is very evident in the tracks "You're Not Alone" and "Hot to Cold", and listeners will hear a foreshadowing of their breakout album "Worlds Apart" in these tracks, as long as you close your ears to the plain sounding synths.

However, the synths are not too terrible here, just not what you expect. The bright and cheery sound of the heavy synths in "It's Time (Chapter Three)" actually work well for the track as well as "Images (Chapter One)" and "Mouse in a Maze". However, where it lacks is in the weaker tracks which really tends to drag the album down further than they should; "See Them Smile", "Slow Motion" and "Take It or Leave It". These three tracks have no progressiveness to them and sound like they could have easily come from the 80's. They are, thank goodness, shorter songs, but they are also way too radio friendly and uninteresting. The stronger songs "You're Not Alone" and "Hot to Cold" should easily make up for the weaker songs, and the others are good enough to not influence the album in a bad way ("Mouse in a Maze" and both of the Chapter tracks). Even so, the progressive aspect of the album is a bit weaker here, though not missing altogether. Those weak tracks are just almost unbearable and bring down the total rating more than they should.

I could easily rate this at a 3.5 star album, not as bad as their worst, a bit better than mediocre, but not necessarily excellent and far from essential. In the end, I have to round it down to 3 stars, but I wouldn't necessarily avoid this one as it is still pretty good for the most part. It's not one that I would enter the Saga realm with though. Better than good, but not quite great either. Get it for the Chapter tracks and the other 2 strong tracks.

 Saga by SAGA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.68 | 241 ratings

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Saga
Saga Crossover Prog

Review by Menswear
Prog Reviewer

3 stars If I were a teen in 1978....

I would've been flabbergasted by this album. Simply put, Saga is an original band: Ian Crichton sounds like thunder and lightnin' on guitar, Jim Crichton is absolutely bonkers on keyboards and Sadler is singing in his own dramatic style. The moogs are omnipresent and thick, and they are duelling with the guitar solos in the Saga trademark way,...so what's not to like?

Well, it didn't age pretty well. There's the problem with the cutting-edge-technology-albums: it's too much of l'air du temps, perhaps wanting too much to be innovative, too rooted in the zeitgeist. The first Van Halen, Police, Cars and Devo albums all came to life in 1978 and Saga's debut is easily the corniest of them all. I guess the Toto/Triumph/Styx/Kansas FM friendly format generates more laughs than praise as the years go by.

Saga were sonically fully themselves and top musicians yet from their 1978 start. Songs like Humble Stance and Ice Nice is showing off their spectacular abilities; man, could the Crichton brothers be the Canadian equivalent of the Van Halen brothers? They are tragically talented and they can dabble with pop also: the first track keyboard line sounds like Human League's Don't You Want Me!

To me, Saga is one of the shamefully overlooked band in Rock History and worthy of rediscovering compared to gimmicky lesser talented acts of that era (*cough*Kiss) who had nothing to say.

My job is done here.

 Generation 13 by SAGA album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.95 | 168 ratings

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Generation 13
Saga Crossover Prog

Review by Menswear
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Too late to the party.

In 1995, lots of musical wonders were born (Monster by R.E.M. or Mellon Collie by Smashing Pumpkins for instance) but my favorite had to be the Britpop wave. With Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Supergrass and Elastica, I didn't wanna hear about anything else but post- Nirvana bands. And I'm not the only one apparently because this album flew under our college radar.

Concept albums are a-plenty in the deep core of the prog world, but Saga flirts with the FM borderline. So a concept album from them is surprising; am I wrong or it's their only one? Anyhoo, the Operation Mindcrime or Streets Rock Opera were far behind, making this album (very) late to the party. But guess what? It holds the road surprisingly well! I'm really shocked by the many qualities of Generation 13.

Complex Generation X story with many characters, noise tricks/samples/special fx, catchy hooks, symphonic keyboards, rocking guitars, a good dose of humor....pretty much everything that made The Wall a success when you think of it. Great cinematics put into a coherent and entertaining package, I didn't felt bored at all, not once.

Usually, Saga makes bombastic, dynamic, colorful songs with no time to breathe. It's a welcoming change of season with Adler's vocals being less dramatic (phew!), slower/quieter segments and an enhanced sense cinematic grandeur.

Not your usual Saga, almost sounds like a different band!

 20/20 by SAGA album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.28 | 101 ratings

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20/20
Saga Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Forum & Site Admin Group Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

3 stars For the previous album released in 2009, "The Human Condition", Michael Sadler had retired as vocalist and that album was the only album in their discography that had a different vocalist. The band ended up sounding a bit heavier for that album, and it worked okay, but there was still some room to grow. Well, that line-up never got that chance, because by the time their next album "20/20" came out in 2012, Sadler had come out of retirement and the well-known line-up had returned. So did this mean that the band would pick up where they left off or would they choose to go with the heavier sound? Well, the answer is basically "no" to both.

Even though Brian Doerner would play the drums on this album, he left the band at the first part of the same year. But as far as this album was concerned, it was the same line up that had been there before Sadler's short retirement. The sound on this album lightens up compared to "The Human Condition", however, instead of a complete return to their previous style, they changed things up a bit. For one thing, the band started using multi-layered vocalizations, mostly by layering Sadler's vocals, which gave portions of the album a more "lush" feeling. The band also decided to pare back the progressive sound, but not quite to the extent that it was in the 80's for the most part.

The album starts off well enough with what is probably the best track on the album "Six Feet Under". It climbs from a somewhat lush beginning to a nice solid track, somewhat unique from previous sounds from the band, but its obvious right away that Sadler is back. It's a great starter and enough to get the old fans excited again especially with some killer guitar passages. "Anywhere You Want to Go" steps back a bit from that heavier sound and allows the keyboards to breathe a little bit, but is a tad less interesting. From there, the album continues to step down as the songs become more pop-oriented, less progressive and less interesting. The multi-layered vocal sections start to get to sounding to much the same and the melodies tend to get less interesting. It's not until way into the 2nd half of the album that you get a decent and emotional track with "Lost for Words" which has almost operatic vocals from Sadler in his best performance on the album. The instrumentals through the album are also okay, but are often not given enough time to develop into much. The last track is the longest on the album at over 6 minutes, and you would expect something pretty amazing, but you don't really get it.

So, everyone had high hopes with the return of Sadler, but ended up being a bit disappointed in the end. By the time you add up the quality of the music and everything, the album ends up not being any better or worse than "The Human Condition" even though they are quite different in sound from each other. "20/20" ends up just being another average sounding album and Saga had definitely done better than this, but at least it wasn't a complete failure.

 The Human Condition by SAGA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.49 | 114 ratings

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The Human Condition
Saga Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Forum & Site Admin Group Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

3 stars Among the many albums by the Canadian band Saga, 'The Human Condition', released in 2009, holds the distinction of being the only studio album by the band without lead vocalist Michael Sadler. Sadler had retired from the band after the release of their previous album '10,000 Days', but the rest of the band wanted to continue on, so they started auditioning new lead vocalists. They ended up hiring Rob Moratti from Toronto to take Sadler's place, but the big difference was not only in vocal style, but also the fact that Moratti did not play other instruments like Sadler did. Also, there was the question about how would the fans handle a different vocalist.

One good thing that happened because of this change was that the band decided to take a deeper dive into progressive music as it was the more progressive songs that the fans liked the best. The basic instrumental section that has been pretty consistent through most of the band's history is still there; the Chrichtons and Gilmour along with Brian Doerner on drums who had been with the band now for a few years.

The Human Condition ' A very fast keyboard section starts it all off answered by a just-as-speedy guitar section playing off the same melodic line. There is definitely a leaning towards a heavier prog sound as the thick instrumental beginning continues, and there are some treated vocals that serve more as a background to the instrumentally heavy track, which when it reaches the halfway point, quiets down a bit for a more atmospheric section, but after a minute, things go back to rapid-fire notes from keys and guitar again. It is admittedly quite a rousing beginning that will get your attention, though we don't get much of an idea yet how the new vocalist sounds because the few vocals in the track are heavily treated.

Step Inside ' The music goes for a harder sound next which is uncharacteristic of the band in most cases. The vocals are much more out front now, and they aren't bad, but you will also notice now that they really don't stand out like Sadler's vocals did. In fact, on this track, you almost think you are listening to a different band. The melodic line's not really complex, but it's not standard either and it has a somewhat tricky meter to it. However, I don't find the vocals as dynamic and unique as before.

Hands of Time ' More of a ballad with a lot of orchestral synths, and a melody a bit similar to Queensryche's 'Silent Lucidity', but not quite as melodically memorable. It's not bad, but not that original, the instrumental break has some cool effects though.

Avalon ' A nice, upbeat song with a very positive feel to the lyrics. Gilmour's vocals come into play a bit more here, but it's still headed over by Moratti. The synth riff is quite stately and the guitar work is really good here. The instrumental work hearkens back to the old Saga. But you really miss Sadler's dynamic sound here.

A Number with a Name ' A nice progressive riff and memorable melody. The prog edge is here as the movement seems inclined to go for a Neo-prog feel, and a good one at that. The listener should be feeling quite excited about this track as it is one of the best on the album, but what makes it the best is the instrumental complexity, not necessarily the somewhat bland (at least compared to Sadler) vocals.

Now is Now ' a basic midtempo track that does not do much of anything. It sounds like it could have been a candidate for a single

Let It Go ' a bit heavier, but again, it's just a good track, not an outstanding one. Another candidate for a single, but at least the instrumental break is really good, but it's brought down by the mediocre vocals.

Crown of Thorns ' Return to the obvious harder sound of this album. This is one of the better songs of the album, and should have been the direction the band would have taken if Moratti was going to remain. A great, complex track with plenty of highlights.

You Look Good to Me ' Upbeat, but too poppy sounding, and doesn't fit in with the darker sound of the album. A bad ending.

Overall, this album isn't bad and it shows an updating of the band's classic sound. The change was quite risky for the band, yet I really like the instrumental feel of it all and the fact that it is heavier, but the new vocalist just doesn't make the band stand out and ends up bringing all the great changes down to a feeling of mediocrity at times. There is nothing wrong with the Neo-prog sound that they were going for, however, the fans were not really looking for the sound to be updated, nor did it really need to be in most cases. While it is true that this album at least stands out from Saga's extensive discography, it stands out for the wrong reasons.

The bad side of it all is that the band doesn't seem as unique as it was before. It sounded almost like a new band, and that was the biggest mistake here, I think. For those that never cared for Saga's unique style and sound, this might be an album that could appeal to you especially if your taste leans towards the Neo-prog sound. Except for bits and pieces, this ends up sounding more like a debut album from a talented band, not an album from a band where most of the members have been around for a long time. Of course, as Saga fans know, Sadler revoked his own retirement and returned to the band on the next album '20/20' released in 2012, which also saw the band go back to its more tried and true formula, for better or worse. As for this album, I can't bring myself to consider it as anything more than a 'good' album which could have been much better.

 Symmetry by SAGA album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.81 | 34 ratings

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Symmetry
Saga Crossover Prog

Review by alainPP

4 stars SAGA was formed in 1977 in Canada, has sold ten million albums and has performed in 20 countries in front of more than 15 million people: in short, one of the most famous Canadian hard-progressive groups of musical innovation, symphonic with riffs to kill. Saga doesn't play like Kansas, Asia, Rush, Styx or Yes, Saga does Saga. This so-called acoustic album offers a different listening, abandoning their original soul here; Shane Cook, Stephany Seki and Beth Silver give them a tremendous helping hand.

"Pitchman" launches the festivities with accordion solo, gypsy violin and flute! Well the piano is phew, the a capella voice of Michael still young, another banjo solo; the 1983 electric title on piano and brushed drums is astonishing to any Saga lover; it reminds me a bit of the ZZ Top title in "Back to the Future", in short, we are not on an acoustic but of a energized remix with the emphasis on instruments, a must for beginners. "The Perfect Time to Feel Better" for the 1st medley with the intro of "time to go" on splendid piano-guitar-violin, then the idyllic symphonic "silent knight"; a progressive variation then brings on "the perfectionnist" of their beginnings, a little sluggish interlude until the insane final "we hope you're feeling better" cult title of their concept album of 1995. The accordion and the violin are enjoyable, bringing on bluffing memories of fact, more than a moment of revision. "Images - Chapter One" piano, clarinet and banjo to accompany Michael's tender voice, I cry with emotion; the original melancholy side gives on the languid intimist, the final with banjo calls out to me not being able to make me forget the electric solo but the clarinet yes the enlightened clarinet is great. "Always There" and the banjo as the musical thread for this ballad track, reminiscent of the Archangel Gabriel on one of his hits; the remodeled acoustic solo shows Ian's dexterity and signs the little extra of this fairly common track at the base. "Prelude # 1" and an interlude by Ian on acoustic guitar, notes that flow between his fingers, simple sweetness. "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" by "Steel Umbrellas" revisits a less hit, more prog-pop song with Jim on vocals and gives cello and Floydian accordion digression; title causing the change because we could almost find the original Saga.

"Prelude # 2" short guitar solo as given for a simple and fresh music theory lesson from?! "The Right Side of the Other Hall" and the 2nd medley with "Trust" on display; "Footsteps in the Hall" almost like the original with bass drums and piano violin, all supported by the angelic voice; then sections of "You Were Right" and "On the Other Side" follow on a Celtic violin starting on a folkloric bourrée with baroque accordion; to listen to in a remote port. "La Foret Harmonieuse" for the last musical dessert on the piano of Jim, study on "Book of Lies" with a light phrasing of Michael. "Wind Him Up" with a 12-string guitar and a cello, a title that works especially in memory of the original, lacking pep to take off and you need the final Zeppelinian led to move buttocks, the violin having something to do with it . A track almost too flat for any fan of the group in my opinion. "No Regrets - Chapter 5" and Gilmour singing almost like the real one, piano and dry guitar in their place, the excellent clarinet transcends this title and gives more liveliness, incredible but true, a title which prepares the best way for the " Tired World - Chapter 6 "huge progressive title: the synths replaced by guitar-banjo-piano- accordion boost this monument; the quick notes make you forget the electric side, the central staccato section gives another life and revisits it, regenerates it 42 years later, offering a memory interlaced with an updated sound; you weren't expecting as much from my favorite band that I review objectively.

Symmetry offers a singular reading of classics through different, complex tones and delicately worked arrangements; the cruel pandemic allowed them to transcend themselves and forget their vintage sound. I cursed while listening to their video at the start, I have to apologize for the thought of listening to this overly bluffing and anachronistic album, a real timeless gem. CD, LP and download in a box set awaits you for a nice surprise.

 House Of Cards by SAGA album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.51 | 140 ratings

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House Of Cards
Saga Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Forum & Site Admin Group Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

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.

 Symmetry by SAGA album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.81 | 34 ratings

BUY
Symmetry
Saga Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Forum & Site Admin Group Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars There is some bad news and good news about Saga's 2021 album "Symmetry". The bad news is that it's an "unplugged" album with the band covering acoustic renditions of past songs. That's going to turn off a lot of people right at the start, and it definitely lowered my expectations when I heard that this is what the new album was going to be. The problem with these types of albums is that so many other bands have done it, and usually the results are disappointing, although some have turned out pretty good. The bands that have done this usually just put out a lazy album with very little deviation from the original except for being quite boring and less exciting.

Now, the good news here is that on this acoustic compilation, Sadler, Crichton and Gilmour are all there along with Mike Thorne on drums and Dusty Chesterfield on bass, and they are anything but lazy. Thank goodness that, on this album, they were not ready to just rely on melody and watered-down versions of their songs to carry this album into the dustbins of redone classics. Reimagined is actually a word that fits much better here. And, in most cases, it works very well on this album, better than one would expect. Even in the moments when the progressive passages come along, that is when things get really exciting here.

It all kicks off with the rather well-known progressive song from "Heads or Tails" called "Pitchman". In all honesty, I even love this version better than the original. It's more than just strumming acoustic guitars, and the band is trying to demonstrate that this is not going to be a lazy and boring album. In the first part of the song, the piano actually takes a quirky lead, Sadler's vocals actually fit in quite well in this setting, and the fiddle/violin that tends to show off a lot on this album will get your attention. And, yes, the progressiveness of this track is there in all of its glory and sounding better than ever. So, right away, this track will raise your hopes.

This is followed by "The Perfect Time to Feel Better", which is actually a medley of 3 tracks in 6/8 time. The combined songs here are "Time to Go", "The Perfectionist" and "We Hope You're Feeling Better". Though it starts off sounding pretty good, it gets somewhat boring with no meter shifts for 8 minutes. This was probably not the best track to follow the lead track with as it just wears out it's welcome and not much happens here, though Sadlers vocals are spot on, the music just won't sustain itself for this one. However, things get better again with "Chapter 1: Images" and also with "Always There" with some excellent guitar work from Crichton along with more violin. You'll notice that the acoustic guitar work here differs quite a bit from his usual style, but in reality, it's exactly what keeps this album interesting.

"Say Goodbye to Hollywood" is bookended by two short preludes which are simply two original acoustic guitar solos. As for "?Hollywood" however, it's the song that most resembles the original and features Gilmour's less dynamic vocals. This one is probably the least interesting of the tracks. As the album moves on though, things continue as before with some very nice versions that many times sound quite different than the originals, though they are still recognizable. The melodies themselves are retained for the most part, but it's the instrumental sections that see the most changes. "The Other Side of the Other Half" has some excellent interplay between the piano and drums and "Wind Him Up" is carried by strings with some nice cello passages, though the vocals are a bit disappointing here as they seem a bit weak. The original is the better choice here, but it's also nice to hear it in this style. "Chapter 5: No Regrets" uses Gilmour's vocals again, but they are much better here, and again, you get some piano interplay this time with a clarinet. The album closes out with one of the stronger entries here, "Chapter 6: Tired World" is amazing with the quick acoustic guitar passages, strings, a banjo with staccato notes, a smooth accordion all performing the progressive instrumental section.

When it's all over, its not the powerful return to form that you would like to hear from the band, but its also not an album to be thrown out just because it is an album of acoustic covers. The band is not willing to just release a lazy record. They put in a lot of effort to make these songs interesting, making them easy to recognize, yet providing a lot of surprises that you don't expect, and often retaining the progressive passages that we all know and love. It's good to hear that Sadler still has a lot of power in his voice and both Crichton and Gilmour are still as talented as ever. I was happy and sometimes quite excited to hear this new side of the band and that they have still retained their ingenuity, but because of a couple of weak tracks that didn't translate so well and the hope of hearing some new material, there are a few disappointments, however, Saga fans and progressive fans should still check this out. The album, overall, doesn't get boring except for "The Perfect Time to Feel Better" and has a few weak moments, but in the end, it is one that you know you'll come back to. There are plenty of exciting moments and changes here that will continue to keep the listener interested in the long run. Besides, in the band's extensive discography, it's nice to have a distinctive album that will stand out in a good way. I don't think too many fans will be overly disappointed with this album.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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