The Canadian pomp legends Saga are back after a seven-year sojourn, and if you are intrigued and want to hear them in a different light, then step right up.
Written by: gdmonline
LABEL: Ear Music
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Michael Sadler – vocals * Jim Gilmour – vocals, keyboards, clarinet * Ian Crichton – guitars * Mike Thorne – drums, vocals * Dusty Chesterfield – bass, keyboards
TRACK LISTING: 01 Pitchman * 02 The Perfect Time To Feel Better [Time To Go, The Perfectionist, We Hope You’re Feeling Better] * 03 Images – Chapter 1 * 04 Always There * 05 Prelude # 1 * 06 Say Goodbye To Hollywood * 07 Prelude # 2 * 08 The Right Side Of The Other Hall [Footsteps In The Hall, On The Other Side, You Were Right] * 09 La Foret Harmonieuse * 10 Wind Him Up * 11 No Regrets – Chapter 5 * 12 Tired World – Chapter 6
WEBLINKS: Site Link
The Canadian pomp legends Saga are back after a seven-year sojourn. 2014’s ‘Sagacity’ was the band’s last recognised studio album with the only personnel change in between times being the departure of longtime bassist and keyboardist Jim Crichton, his place taken by Dusty Chesterfield.
‘Symmetry’ presents a change-up to an entire set of unplugged tunes. This might seem like a brave move by Saga but at this stage of the band’s career, they really don’t have anything more to prove, other than to chart unexplored territory which they have done so here.
In some places they sound like Kansas, particularly when they decide to go pastoral. There are traces of strings, wind instruments and heaps of acoustic guitar and piano. Although there are twelve recognised tracks, two of them are lengthy medleys.
As this is entirely acoustic, you’ll hear variations from classical acoustic, maritime sea shanties, and fiddle/banjo like excursions. I kid you not. I’ve included the album source in brackets, though there are pieces that appear to be previously unrecorded.
‘Pitchman’ (Heads Or Tales) leads off, this version sounding nothing like the synth-laden original, with acoustic/flamenco parts and clarinet taking over from 80’s era synths.
The first medley is ‘The Perfect Time To Feel Better’ [Time To Go, The Perfectionist, We Hope You’re Feeling Better] (Silent Knight, Saga, Generation 13). ‘Time To Go’ is the best known track here taken from ‘Silent Knight’, again the clarinet takes the lead, giving it a slight Supertramp vibe.
‘The Perfectionist’ makes for a near-perfect companion piece to the previous track, the acoustic version features violin as the lead instrument. ‘We Hope You’re Feeling Better’ taken from ‘Generation 13’ really only includes the chorus and is just on a minute long, and doesn’t include any elements of the originals carnival atmosphere, which could’ve made things interesting.
‘Images – Chapter 1’ (Images At Twilight) originally contained an extensive tippy-tap piano sequence, while this version is mainly acoustic guitar and clarinet. It’s a meandering piece, much like the original too.
‘Always There’ (House Of Cards) originally was a very likeable track, though this version is a good fit, even with guitar picking lines sounding like a banjo in places. One of my album highlights.
‘Prelude # 1’ and ‘Prelude # 2’ provide the bookends for ‘Say Goodbye To Hollywood’ (Steel Umbrellas), which was a very mellow and poignant piece, and it translates to the new album more or less intact. Quite a dreamy, sunbathe beside the pool sort of tune.
The second medley is ‘The Right Side Of The Other Hall’ [Footsteps In The Hall, On The Other Side, You Were Right] (Trust). The originals from their 2006 album were all quite spirited and lively while these versions try hard to keep pace which is not an easy task. I did spend a bit of time flopping between the two sets of tunes.
‘La Foret Harmonieuse’ (which translates to ‘The Harmonius Forest’) is a quirky piano piece. This is a brief 2-minute track, I don’t think I’ve heard it before so I’m guessing it’s new.
‘Wind Him Up’ (Worlds Apart) is the best known track here, certainly different to the original which I’ve been listening to over the last forty years. ‘No Regrets – Chapter 5’ (Worlds Apart) is also very familiar, the original was quite proggy with lots of deep synth, replaced here by clarinet and string instruments.
‘Tired World’ – Chapter 6 (Saga) very much demonstrated the original templated Saga sound from 1978 with tight drumming and electric piano, though this version is strong on Ian Crichton’s guitar with classical and flamenco like passages filling the spaces.
Die-hard Saga fans will be onto this for collectibility’s sake, but don’t be mistaken, if you’re looking for pomp and bombast you won’t find it here. However, if you are intrigued and want to hear our Canadian friends in a different light, then step right up.
Wind Him Up
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