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Saga - Steel Umbrellas CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

2.09 | 90 ratings

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Symphonic Team
2 stars Walking on thin ice

Steel Umbrellas was for a long time the only album missing from my Saga collection. When I finally found it (on Spotify) I was expecting the worst given the very low average rating it has on this website (at the time of writing it is the lowest rated Saga studio album of all here). After having listened to it now, I must say that it is not quite as bad as I expected. Still, it is certainly among the least good Saga albums of all time together with Behavior, Wildest Dreams, and The Pleasure & The Pain. What is most astonishing of all is that this album was released between two very good Saga albums; the strong The Security Of Illusion from the year before and the conceptual masterpiece Generation 13 from the year after. Judged in the narrow context of its immediate surroundings, Steel Umbrellas is indeed extremely disappointing and that might be the primary reason for which it is rated as low as it is. But judged in the slightly wider context of the band's output from the 90's and second half of the 80's, it is not that unsatisfactory.

Steel Umbrellas certainly does not sound at all like the follow up to The Security Of Illusion or the predecessor to Generation 13, but rather much more like if it came out of the mid- 80's. Had this album been released say, between 1985's Behavior and 1987's Wildest Dreams, it would surely had been better received than it was in 1994. Overall, this era (the 90's and second half of the 80's) was musically a very turbulent one in Saga's discography with the quality of their output varying widely and erratically from the best to the worst. During this period, they also seemed unsure about their identity and not knowing quite what direction to take. While The Security Of Illusion saw the band stepping into 90's, with Steel Umbrellas they reverted to their earlier mid-80's sound - perhaps triggered by this identity crisis? Some would perhaps say that the material here sounds like leftovers from the mid-80's, but I think it is up to par with, if not better than, those aforementioned weak mid- 80's albums.

The album opener Why Not, Shake That Tree, and the ballad I Walk With You (best experienced in the bonus acoustic live version) are among the better songs here, while the bluesy Steamroller is the worst. The other songs are generally on the soft Pop side and as such they lack the energy and power for which Saga is best known.

Recommended primarily for fans, especially those fans who enjoy the band's mid-80's period.

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |


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