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Saga - Steel Umbrellas CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

2.13 | 109 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars Back in 1994, I heard this album was initially recorded for a try out of a new recording studio. Don't know if this story is true but it sure sounds like it. The production sounds expensive but that's the really the only spectacular thing to write of. This album came as a shock, a year after the release of "The security of illusion", the previous Saga album. TSU was more or less a return to form. Around that time, I saw them performing live with all that classics from the first 5 albums in the live set, avoiding all the albums that were released after 1984. I never expected the Saga boys to release another album of pure pop, just to let you know that SU is not a typical Saga album. "Behaviour" is the only album which shows some similarities to this album and the song writing on that album was even better than the tracks you get in this effort. But no one will state that "Behaviour" is a good Saga-album either.

The first track is easily the best of the bunch. "Why not" has a typical eighties production with its exotic electronic percussion but in essence, this is a good Saga track. There's some typical Saga melodies and you can catch some groovy atmospheres which gives room to breathe for the wonderful guitar lines of Ian Crichton.'s terribly streamlined and soft. The other highlight "Shake that tree" has Jim Gilmour on vocals. This is another soft popish track with the guitar parts mixed to the background, funky eighties bass lines and an exotic female background choir. Underneath the smooth production you can hear all the elements of a decent Saga pop song and I always liked the voice of Jim for a couple of songs.... "Password pirate" is another pop track which is totally unlike Saga ; interesting to hear how the band takes a completely different course and manages to lay down some sparkling pop melodies that made me give it another spin. The "Das Boot" electronic vocals sure sounds fashionable and the track has a nice flow with its rhythms changing rapidly.

If you're looking for some pathetic ballads, seek no further. "I walk with you" may be a tender sounding track, I can't imagine someone will long to listen to this a second time. Same thing goes for "never alone", a romantic melody, smooth production, good chorus with nice backing vocal harmonies but all in all, this is forgettable AOR.

Some people keep saying that Saga is more a rock/pop band than a progressive band ; these people should check this album out to prove they're absolutely right. There really is not a note of progressive rock music to discover on this album. Fortunately, this Canadian band do have other albums where the progressive tendencies are more to the fore.

If you take a look at the pictures on the cover of "Steel umbrellas", you should know what to expect of this album. Unless you're on a holiday on a warm island full of sunny beaches, you'll not be interested in hearing this. "Steel umbrellas" is definitely a light version of Saga. I believe they tried to organise a sell out with this release but fortunately they failed cause this album sold poorly. Recommended for Saga purists only.

Fishy | 2/5 |


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