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Saga - Worlds Apart CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.66 | 240 ratings

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4 stars Saga has always been a puzzler for me. My introduction to the band was pretty much the same as it was for most people, and that was through this album. I heard their singles on the radio, thought "On the Loose" was okay, but was blown away by "Wind Him Up". Then I heard "Framed" on a deep cuts program and was sold on what I had heard and I bought the album. From the start, I thought it was a very good album and played it to pieces. It was one of my favorites at the time. It wasn't until their next album "Heads or Tails", which I also liked, that I learned that this was not their debut album. I also heard the complaints from Saga's fans that "Worlds Apart" was too commercial and sounded nothing like them. I found their earlier albums and noticed that they were a little more progressive, but not enough to think they had sold out. They main thing that I did notice was that Michael's voice did seem a lot more dynamic and a bit more pompous. Come to find out, that was because of producer Rupert Hine, who told him to stop singing like a choirboy.

This album was their breakout album. I believe it sold well overseas too. This was their attempt to get their style of progressive rock more accessible, which I think they did quite well. The singles were a great kick in the band's popularity. However, their popularity was short lived, as they tried to return a bit more to their previous sound in "Heads or Tails" which was much more guitar heavy, and a lot of the fans that were picked up after the release of "Worlds Apart" lost interest. Saga never got back that popularity after that, however, there were several die hard fans that would continue to faithfully follow the band through their indecisive years. They made their music even more commercial like on their next albums "Behaviour" and "Wildest Dreams" by completely abandoning any semblance of prog and then returning to prog again several times to try to win back more hardcore prog lovers. I have to admit there were a few later albums that were really good, but I only heard them by borrowing them from friends, I had given up on buying anymore of their music after being disappointed when I purchased a few of their lackluster albums.

So, I am a huge fan of "Worlds Apart" and "Heads or Tails", but not so much after that. "Worlds Apart" features some very complex and bombastic solos and vocals, but it also has plenty of slower, meandering parts too, but I loved the variety and how the slower parts would build on the excitement of the upcoming more complex sections. This album will always hold a special part in my music collection, and every time I wear out a copy, I always get another. It seems that most of the reviewers that love this album have the same love for it that I do, and it doesn't fade away with time.

The album starts off with the big single "On the Loose". It's pretty much straightforward as far as a rock song goes. It has plenty of guitar, keyboards and excellent vocals to catch the attention of MOR radio listeners everywhere. It was a good introduction to the band back then and is a good intro to the album even now. The chorus is a bit repetitive and that is the part of the song that makes it weak for me, though it got my attention, I just thought it was a good rock song way back then. "Wind Him Up" seems to follow the same type of sound at first, but it has a longer and much more interesting instrumental break. This time, the music caught my attention. I liked that the music was quirkier and the vocals were more dynamic, and of course, I was always a sucker for this type of instrumental break, one that had some tricky rhythms and where the spotlight was passed around to all of the instruments and not just a single one.

"Amnesia" is a more midtempo song which, even though it didn't do much as far as being progressive, it was still interesting and unlike most commercial music. The vocals, the heavy bass and the interesting rhythm patterns are really the most interesting thing on this song. "Framed" is my favorite track here as it revisits and expands on the things I like about on "Wind Him Up". This one is not your typical rock song in that it shows a lot more of the progressive side of Saga.

This pattern of slower to mid-tempo songs paired against heavier songs continues throughout the album, and I honestly like everything about it, even the slower parts. There are some nice melodies, some places where the music explores some tempos and themes and other parts where the instrumentals are very expressive as in the call and response pattern of "Conversations", other parts where they just sort of float along like the long introduction before things really kick in again on "No Stranger".

I highly recommend this album if you want to hear the best of Saga and then you can decide if you want to explore more of their sound. I must admit though, that after this album and "Heads or Tails", that I lost interest and never really found anymore Saga albums that I like as much. I have heard some of their more progressive music, but it never really spoke to me like this one did. Even then, because it was not as progressive as it could have been, I can only give it a 4 star rating, but it was the start of something great that never really found any consistency through the years, thus Saga never really found their footing.

TCat | 4/5 |


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