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Saga - Saga CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.71 | 213 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars The first chapter in the saga

Saga released this, their self-titled debut album in 1978, but the 80's were just around the corner and the sound of this album clearly anticipates that often maligned decade. There are certainly quite some "remnants" here of the progressive attitude that was characteristic of 70's (Prog) Rock, but in general, Saga sounds like a very good band that could have been even better had they only started out some years earlier than they in fact did. In the late 70's and early 80's, Saga were very much of their time, or even slightly ahead of it. Listening to this debut album, it is not unreasonable to believe that Saga (among others) had an influence on how Prog developed in the 80's. Maybe the members of Yes were looking to albums like this one for inspiration in the process of modernizing the band's sound in the early 80's? Maybe John Wetton, Carl Palmer, Steve Howe and Geoff Downes were using Saga as a reference point when they created Asia? Maybe Neo-progers like Pallas were listening to Saga during their early days?

Two tracks of this album were "chapters"; parts of an on-going, conceptual saga that took the band many years to finish. I don't know how they came up with the idea, but their first four albums all had tracks subtitled 'Chapter #'. These chapters appeared in non-numerical order scattered on these early albums and the present album included chapters four and six! It was always unclear to me what these songs are supposed to have in common or why they are supposed to hang together in the order indicated by the chapter numbers - as far as I can tell they are not really musically connected. Even more interestingly, Saga once again picked up this tradition in 1999 (almost 20 years later) on the appropriately titled Full Circle album and they continued on the albums House Of Cards and Marathon adding up to a further eight chapters of the saga. In 2005, they released a live album featuring all of the 16 chapters in numerical running order. One might wonder if they planned to do something like this all along ever since 1978.

Being so much of its time, this album has aged reasonably well. It already featured most of the band's trademarks and their distinctive sound and as such it was a very promising debut. The sound is admittedly a little bit "thin" and there are some cheesy moments among the promising ones, most notably the Disco-like Give 'Em The Money which is easily the worst track on this album and foreshadows the disappointing follow-up album. But overall this album is certainly an enjoyable listen and one of the most interesting early Saga albums being somewhere in between the sounds and trends of the 70's and those of the 80's.

One of Saga's best albums to this day and a highly recommended in its own right

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |


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