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Saga - Saga CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.70 | 216 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Rush, Harmonium, Morse Code, Mahogany Rush, Pollen, Max Webster....and Saga. Canada produced a number of exciting and popular progressive rock groups during the genre's 1970s heyday, yet none of them quite managed to divide opinion like Saga. Formed very late-in-the-day for a seventies prog-rock act, 1977 no less, the five- piece would tour regularly and issue a steady stream of studio albums from 1978's self-titled debut onwards. Despite achieving limited commercial success, they would continue to do so for the next four decades. Formed in Oakville, a town just outside the Toronto suburbs, sometime during 1977, Saga's original line- up comprised Michael Sadler(vocals, guitar, keyboards), Ian Crichton(guitar), his brother Jim Crichton(bass, keyboards), Peter Rochon(keyboards, vocals) and Steve Negus(drums). The five-piece would sign a deal with Polydor Canada later that year and after an intense period of writing and rehearsing, eventually relocated to Toronto's Phase One Studio's to record their debut album. Issued in 1978, 'Saga' is a curious record. Essentially, the group's sound is a slickly- realised hybrid of symphonic prog and stadium rock elements, a mixture topped off with genuine craft-and-creativity. However, like many other outfit's bracketed under the prog-rock banner, the music also features a rather earnest, almost po-faced quality that can occasionally distract from the fine individual musicianship on display. Frustratingly, it's an easy trap for group's like Saga to fall into, and there are moments on this otherwise enjoyable album that bring to mind the fleetingly-popular, early-eighties prog-pop supergroup Asia, an outfit who took progressive rock to the lightest commercial shade possible...and beyond. As a result, Saga stand apart from the rest of Canadian prog; the likes of Rush and Harmonium, arguably the two greatest Canadian prog outfits, are almost certainly products of the late-sixties and early-seventies music scenes, of psychedelia and the blues, yet Saga, with their banks of keyboards and synthesizers and their streamlined AOR sound, belong much more to the 1980's. The eponymously-titled 'Saga' is where it all began, and despite certain flaws it's an intriguing record. It's certainly not for everyone, yet those with a penchant for Styx, early Journey, and Genesis circa 1977-1980 may well warm to Saga's grandiose brand of anthemic prog and cuts such as the bouncy opener 'How Long' and the slow-burning mini-epic 'Will It Be You?(Chapter Four)', both of which represent the Saga sound close to it's apex. However, the very best is saved for last, with the intricate mini-epic 'Tired World(Chapter Six)' rounding out a shiny, snazzy and neon-flecked album of streamlined prog-rock. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2013

stefro | 3/5 |


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