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Saga - The Beginners Guide to Throwing Shapes CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.00 | 116 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars Starting all over

Saga released their self-titled debut album at a time when Prog Rock was already going out of fashion and over the course of the 80's the progressive elements were gradually abolished from the band's music culminating in poor albums like Behaviour and Wildest Dreams. On these two albums, the Saga of the 1978 debut could no longer be recognized at all. Along with these developments, the quality of the song writing also diminished significantly. With The Beginner's Guide To Throwing Shapes, however, Saga finally broke out of their downward spiral and started to make interesting and good music again.

Some key members had been lost, having reduced Saga to a trio around this time. They were still the very same trio on the present album, but they seem to be willing to expand and, dare I say, experiment with, the Saga sound. The vocals and the melodies are once again typical Saga. The use of the synthaxe brings Allan Holdsworth to mind occasionally! The drums have been wholly replaced here with electronic percussions, but it does not sound as bad as one could think. There is, on the other hand, more room for solos and instrumental breaks this time around. Overall, the sound is very electronic and slightly "robotic". Maybe even futuristic at times. The approach here is actually not that far removed from the one that fellow Canadians Rush followed in the mid to late 80's.

The songs are generally strong with only a couple of less good numbers in the middle of the album. The Nineties is the worst one, featuring some rather cheesy lyrics. How Do I Look?, Starting All Over, Shape, Waiting In The Wings, and Giant are great tracks. The latter is one of the more progressive Saga tracks, at least since the band's early days. It is almost as if they were finally allowed to release something that had been inside them for years and a newfound inspiration automatically came with it. With the next album, they would once again be a five piece and make an overall even stronger album. But this one is not bad at all.


SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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