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Thread: Saga

  1. #26
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arturs View Post
    Really sad I never got to see them live.
    I'm really glad I got to see them live once - on the 2015 Cruise to the Edge. The weird thing was that it was on the pool deck, which usually gets very crowded, but for some reason there wasn't a big turnout for Saga. Maybe Yes or Marillion were playing in the main theater at that time. Anyway, there was lots of room - you could sit, you could stand, you could go up to a higher deck and see it from above. I did all of these. It was a great show, and the weather cooperated which isn't always the case on deck.

  2. #27
    Member dropforge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    Dammit, you did that on purpose! "Damn, better get the trivia bit in before Chris gets a chance to post it!"
    Zing!

  3. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by arturs View Post
    Your analogy has merit but the one thing I really love about Saga, that the other sorta-prog bands like Styx or Asia need to do more of, is that whenever there's an instrumental passage they throw in some really clever tricky bits, guitar runs and the like. Keeps the music interesting.

    Really sad I never got to see them live.
    Same here. I got into Saga after Worlds Apart came out (like many), but they must have skipped LA or I just missed it cuz I was watching like a hawk but never saw a word about them touring SoCal for that album. Which was weird, seeing how it was their breakthrough.

    The funny thing to me about Saga is that they basically appeared on everybody's radar (at least in SoCal where I was at the time) around the same time that Rush did. In many respects Saga were superior musicians and delved deeper into tricky extended instrumental passages in their songs, but on the surface their songs seemed a bit more pedestrian than Rush's. The lyrics had a lot to do with it, but I think even though something like "On the Loose" features trickier musicianship (plus loads of keyboards), a song like "Red Barchetta" feels more like progressive rock to me. Even though note for note it might be easier to play.
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  4. #29
    Worthy of Laudation thedunno's Avatar
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    I was really into them in the 80ies. The debut and worlds apart were my favorites. Of the later albums I remember liking 'the beginners guide to throwing shapes' a lot. I think this one is a bit overlooked because the albums before and after were not that good.

    There is even a Gentle Giant tribute on the album, simply called Giant.

    Later my preferences changed and did not follow them anymore. Still a fine band though. I do not consider them neoprog.

  5. #30
    Without Saga I wouldn´t be here and listening to music PE readers like, too. Also my personal gateway band.

  6. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Paulrus View Post
    In many respects Saga were superior musicians and delved deeper into tricky extended instrumental passages in their songs, but on the surface their songs seemed a bit more pedestrian than Rush's. The lyrics had a lot to do with it,
    Yeah, Sadler wasn't writing lyrics inspired by Time magazine articles about the brain or political cartoons.
    but I think even though something like "On the Loose" features trickier musicianship (plus loads of keyboards), a song like "Red Barchetta" feels more like progressive rock to me. Even though note for note it might be easier to play.
    Actually, I'm inclined to think they were about on a par with each other, as far as "tricky arrangements" go. Steve Negus doesn't seem to have that "fill every nook and cranny" approach to drumming the way Peart does (which is fine with me), but the rest of the band, I'd say Ian Crichton is probably evenly matched against Lifeson, for instance.

    The one area where Saga might be ahead of Rush, in terms of musicianship, might be in the keyboard department, where I think it would probably be argued that Jim Gilmour might be a better keyboardist than Geddy.

    But if Saga's music seems more "pedestrian", I'd say that has more to do with the fact that their music is a lot more radio friendly. A song like On The Loose, if you edited out that instrumental thing in the middle of the song, you'd have a perfect early 80's rock single, tailor made for AOR radio. But I'm fine with that. It's a different spin on art rock, or whatever the frell you want to call it, and I think it's just valid and enjoyable as Cygnus X-1 or La Villa Strangiato.

  7. #32
    Member dropforge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    The one area where Saga might be ahead of Rush, in terms of musicianship, might be in the keyboard department, where I think it would probably be argued that Jim Gilmour might be a better keyboardist than Geddy.
    Even Geddy would support Jim being the "better" keyboardist. Jim is classically trained. He does the "two hands, each on a different synth" shtick like Wakeman. In an old '80s interview in, yes, Hit Parader (!!), Gedd called his keyboard role a "distant third" behind bassist (#1) and vocalist (#2). I doubt that's changed. I'm just glad he likes synths.

    And speakin' of bassists, Jim Crichton isn't on Gedd's level. Never has been.

  8. #33
    Saw these guys open for Jethro Tull on the "Broadsword and the Beast" tour, when "On the Loose" was in the charts. They were very good.
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  9. #34
    I saw them live in a small auditorium in Burlington VT in 1985 during their "Behavior" tour. They arrived in town the night before and went to the local rock club. I was playing a gig a few towns away and was going to go to that club's band house after hours as I knew the band. But I was tired and didn't go. I always regret my choice because several members of Saga partied all night with the local band.
    I went to the rock club after Saga's concert and Michael and Ian showed up soon after. I ended up talking with Michael for about 20 minutes at the bar. He bought me a beer and he encouraged me to never give up. I was at a low point in my life and it was really great of him to give me such kind advise. He's a very cool guy. Had I not by chance run into him, I might have quit the whole music thing. Thank you Michael!

  10. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    A song like On The Loose, if you edited out that instrumental thing in the middle of the song, you'd have a perfect early 80's rock single, tailor made for AOR radio. But I'm fine with that.
    When I first heard On The Loose at around age 11 or 12, it was easily my favorite rock track, bar none. But I still hadn't heard any Rush, Yes or Genesis (apart from "Misunderstanding"). It jarred me a little because to me that was very hard rock to my impressionable ears as opposed to whatever random classic rock song I heard like Kansas then. Wayy better than AC/DC....

    I don't know why, but I never heard the excellent Worlds Apart until 2002 and couldn't believe I had missed out on Saga all those years I later got the debut album, which I thought was good, but then started with House of Cards around 2001 without paying much attention to their other 80s and 90s records that didn't seem as interesting. I liked every album from 2001, apart from 20/20, but not every song - usually 3/4 of an album.

  11. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by dropforge View Post
    He does the "two hands, each on a different synth" shtick like Wakeman.
    Uh, lots of keyboardists do "two hands, each on a different synth", including Geddy, actually.

    And speakin' of bassists, Jim Crichton isn't on Gedd's level.
    Which isn't a bad thing, either. Sometimes it's nice to have a rhythm section that knows how to not over-complicate the arrangements.

  12. #37
    Member dropforge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    Uh, lots of keyboardists do "two hands, each on a different synth", including Geddy, actually.
    Great. Show me where Gedd's doing lines as lively as Jim's during "Don't Be Late." I wasn't trying to make this a versus thing, but if you want to post a vid, go right ahead.

    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    Which isn't a bad thing, either. Sometimes it's nice to have a rhythm section that knows how to not over-complicate the arrangements.
    Saga's got a lead guitarist and two keyboardists. They don't need in-your-face basslines, whereas Rush has more space to fill. But Jim's still not on Geddy's level. Again, this isn't a versus thing.

  13. #38
    Member Paulrus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    Steve Negus doesn't seem to have that "fill every nook and cranny" approach to drumming the way Peart does (which is fine with me)
    He's a great drummer, but to my ears much more from the Steve Smith fusion school, while Peart is a Carl Palmer style prog rock drummer. Both are awesome and both lift their bands immensely.

    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    I'd say Ian Crichton is probably evenly matched against Lifeson, for instance.
    Really? I'd definitely give Crichton the nod in terms of pure chops. He approaches Vai/Satriani level playing while Lifeson is more of a Page/Moore blues rock pounder. IMO, of course.


    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    The one area where Saga might be ahead of Rush, in terms of musicianship, might be in the keyboard department, where I think it would probably be argued that Jim Gilmour might be a better keyboardist than Geddy.
    LOL. No argument there.
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  14. #39
    Is it really all over for Saga ? It was my understanding that the band had split up for good following this year's Cruise To The Edge. But last night at the Spock's Beard show in London, when Ted Leonard introduced Mike Thorne and mentioned that he'd been with Saga, he added that he was "still with them", which sounded strange if there really is nothing planned either live or in the studio.
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  15. #40
    Now you need to enter phase II and get House Of Cards, Network, Trust

  16. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by calyx View Post
    Is it really all over for Saga ? It was my understanding that the band had split up for good following this year's Cruise To The Edge. But last night at the Spock's Beard show in London, when Ted Leonard introduced Mike Thorne and mentioned that he'd been with Saga, he added that he was "still with them", which sounded strange if there really is nothing planned either live or in the studio.
    Dunno. I know the announced that they were breaking up last year, I think, and Wikipedia refers to a show in San Juan, Puerto Rico in October of this year as their "final show".

  17. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by saucyjackstl View Post
    Now you need to enter phase II and get House Of Cards, Network, Trust
    For me:

    Network
    Trust
    Marathon
    Human Condition
    ------
    30,000 Days
    House of Cards
    Sagacity
    ------------------
    20/20 (haven't listened enough)

    Why did Saga improve after 2000 from their 1986 to 1999 period? What changed? Or maybe its just me.

  18. #43
    Ok. Lots to cover here. I'm a bit "responsible" for this thread as I suggested the purchase that set off Chris' OP. I have SO much to say about SAGA right now as I've literally listened to nothing else for the last 2 months. I'm kind of in a weird place right now. My band is on hiatus, my house is under construction. My life is a bit discombobulated.

    2 months ago I met Michael Sadler, his wife and his son at ProgStock in NJ where 3RDegree had played the "preshow"/ProgStock Eve before the proper festival start. I did the video projection (out of my computer sort of thing) and did the simple slides behind Michael Sadler's set which featured solo and Saga hits from all over their catalog played by backing band Enchant with their drummer swapped with Jimmy Keegan, Spock's Beard's former drummer.

    My background with SAGA? I remember "On The Loose" and "Wind Him Up" only. Both from the videos and/or airplay at the time. With my favorite band of all time being Rush, somehow I never got anything from Saga until buying Worlds Apart only a few years back. I liked it but stopped there. Well, since seeing Michael Sadler I got the 2 boxed sets and then moved on to find all their albums on CD except 10,000 Days which is impossible to find right now for some reason. I didn't want to buy mp3s and since they have nothing available on Bandcamp I had to get CDs. I've heard all but 3 albums at this point-many times.

    What's REALLY interesting is having experienced a band like Rush and hearing their stuff as each album came out starting with Grace Under Pressure, right now I'm hearing Saga's entire discography (almost) all at once-well within say 2-3 months. It's a whole different experience.

    A few points. They have not broken up. They are just not going to do proper touring anymore. They are already doing 2 festivals in Canada next year so it's sort of a long fade out. They also have not ruled out a-wait for it-23RD studio album!

    I do find them to be a sort of "pioneering" NeoProg band in a way that I suppose Styx is south of the border. Both Sadler and DeYoung have that sort of...."theatrical"(?), dramatic approach that in DeYoung's case I don't really like but in Sadler's case I very much do.

    I see a lot of Rush comparisons above and I'd say that Geddy never thought of himself as a keyboardist as with the exception of "Xanadu" and "Countdown" he really has not played a solo and only used keyboards as another element to add to Rush which started simply and then on later 80's albums became more of a sequenced thing that was more about triggering different events with his feet while he played bass. Jim Gilmour always playing chords and single notes as well with both hands is a totally different thing than what Geddy ever did.

    One of the things I find interesting that you only really see by checking out live videos of them over the years is that they often have 2 keyboards going at once with either Sadler going over to his own set or sharing with the bassists' stack. Also, there's a bunch of songs where their bassist just plays synth bass for an entire song. That's...different. Also, this is a band where you often have the guitarist and keyboardist harmonizing or doing solo lines in unison. This is the case on the early and later stuff-less so on the late 80's and 90's stuff.

    So what's my impression of their "career"? First 3 albums secure their sound. Hard rock with some nods to prog and even a touch of disco on something like "Slow Motion". By the 4th album they hit their popularity zenith and put out an album that is also chock full of probably their best writing and playing. Heads or Tales sort of stays in a similar vein and then they go "full 80's" for their next 3 albums-2 without their keyboardist and drummer. I'm a sucker for 80's laden albums and enjoy these albums quite a bit just as I do fellow Canadian Rush's 80's output. A best of released in '91 featuring a cover of "Solsbury Hill" signifies the end of this period as their drummer and keyboardist return to the fold for '93's album Security Of Illusion. A few so-so albums follow with the exception of their concept album 95's Generation 13 which is their "proggiest" and most ambitious. They seem to regain their footing with a return to form in '99 with the aptly named Full Circle which starts up a second round of their songs based around a multi album story called "The Chapters" that was strewn over their first 4 albums-now continuing for the next 4 albums in the new century. Another Gabriel cover appears on a b-side for the 2001 House of Cards' single "Money Talks"- a duet of "Don't Give Up" with "Black Velvet" singer-and fellow Canadian Alannah Myles. I'm missing a few albums here to give a full picture but suffice to say these later albums with revolving drummers are really strong-great recordings of great songs with interesting melodies and musical moments-on the edge of prog as they've always been.

    Perhaps they will always be in the shadow of other bands that they were a bit like but Saga offers their own flavor of music with stand out players and a singer with a unique voice. They appear to have a tight if not huge following from Canada to Germany to Puerto Rico that loves them.

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  19. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by 3RDegree_Robert View Post

    A few points. They have not broken up. They are just not going to do proper touring anymore.
    Thank you for that clarification. Wikipedia makes it sound like they're a done deal.

    I do find them to be a sort of "pioneering" NeoProg band in a way that I suppose Styx is south of the border. Both Sadler and DeYoung have that sort of...."theatrical"(?), dramatic approach that in DeYoung's case I don't really like but in Sadler's case I very much do.
    Well, for me, the problem with DeYoung is his willingness to descend to "soft rock" balladry. Songs like Babe and The Best Of Times aren't even "middle of the road", it's like Dennis couldn't make up his mind if he wanted to play rock music or be Barry Manilow.

    I see a lot of Rush comparisons above and I'd say that Geddy never thought of himself as a keyboardist as with the exception of "Xanadu" and "Countdown" he really has not played a solo
    What about The Trees, Circumstances, Jacob's Ladder, Tom Sawyer, or Subdivisions? Those aren't solos he plays on those songs?

    Perhaps they will always be in the shadow of other bands that they were a bit like but Saga offers their own flavor of music with stand out players and a singer with a unique voice. They appear to have a tight if not huge following from Canada to Germany to Puerto Rico that loves them.
    Apparently, early on, their two pockets of popularity were, indeed, Germany and Puerto Rico. On the documentary portion of the Silhouette DVD, Sadler or Jim Crichton talks about how the first time they played Puerto Rico, they were not only headlining some huge arena or stadium type venue, but the promoter wanted (but failed) to secure Rush as the opening band! Apparently, the Saga guys and Rush guys have shared a few laughs about that over the years.

    Sadler also said there was a moment during that first Puerto Rico concert , where he was playing a song at the piano, and during the first verse, before the rest of the band comes in, the audience was singing along. He said that threw him for a second, because it wasn't what you'd normally call an "audience participation" type song.

    There was also a story about how they were on the beach, the day before that show, and someone walked by with a boombox, playing the radio, with one of Saga's songs playing. Apparently that's how big they were there, that at any random moment, you could hear Saga coming out of someone's radio.

  20. #45
    Yeah I think "Humble Stance" was used on some TV show-maybe a news show so it got very known by people at the time.

    As for the Geddy keyboard solos, yes you named a bunch more like "Xanadu" which are pretty rudimentary but nice solos. The only one that's ever struck me as being a bit closer to an improv-but not really-is "Countdown".

  21. #46
    Member Paulrus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3RDegree_Robert View Post
    As for the Geddy keyboard solos, yes you named a bunch more like "Xanadu" which are pretty rudimentary but nice solos. The only one that's ever struck me as being a bit closer to an improv-but not really-is "Countdown".
    Yeah, that "Countdown" solo is the one to hold up as Geddy's finest moment as a synth soloist. Almost makes you wonder if they brought in someone to play that for them.

    But I think the reason Geddy's not considered a true keyboard player is that while he went through a phase -- not coincidentally Rush's main prog rock period -- where keyboards featured in Rush's music, the keyboards didn't remain an integral part of their sound the way it was with Saga. So it's easy to say that Geddy dabbled with keyboards back when they suited the direction the band was going. But once the band moved on the keyboards started gathering dust in the closet. And yes, I know there are notable examples of keys appearing on Rush songs since the mid-1980s, but even they admit that a conscious shift took place back towards being a guitar-oriented power trio.
    I'm holding out for the Wilson-mixed 5.1 super-duper walletbuster special anniversary extra adjectives edition.

  22. #47
    When I'm in Germany I always look for their albums. This year I bought Live in Hamburg and didn't buy The beginners guide of throwing shapes, because I thought it was some kind of collection of songs from other albums. I still like to comlete my collection. I have a few albums on vinyl and some on cassette-tape. I think I also have a concert taped from a radio-broadcast. Seen them live once in Utrecht and was with them in the dressing room, with a lot of other people, so I didn't really have any chance to interview them.

  23. #48
    Is it really all over for Saga ? It was my understanding that the band had split up for good following this year's Cruise To The Edge. But last night at the Spock's Beard show in London, when Ted Leonard introduced Mike Thorne and mentioned that he'd been with Saga, he added that he was "still with them", which sounded strange if there really is nothing planned either live or in the studio.
    I was at the gig, and that comment threw me as well. Good to know they're not completely finished. They're one of a handful of bands I really like but never got to see live. I guess they're more likely to come over to Europe for a festival in Germany rather than do a gig of their own in the UK.

  24. #49
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    Great post, Robert! I didn't know that Saga had plans for next year. Good to know they haven't completely called it a day yet. I also didn't know about those Peter Gabriel covers they did. I'll have to see if I can find those on YouTube. Very interesting.

  25. #50
    Interesting to see how perceptions of a band are depending on when people were exposed to them. Far from Saga being a "gateway" into prog, I had already been deeply into Genesis, Yes, ELP, Floyd, Kansas etc for years before Saga was on the scene. Like many my first exposure was when On the Loose got a lot of airplay and I got that album but didn't really follow up from there. I also likened them to a Styx "prog-lite" type of band, along with bands like Prism, another Canadian band where I liked the first few albums and then lost interest. I was completely surprised years later when I found out they had continued on with so many albums and were so popular in Germany.
    I enjoyed seeing Sadler perform live at Progstock and his duo with Rachel Flowers singing Nights in White Satin with her on piano was fantastic, and it was pretty cool to hear those Saga songs live. The Dennis DeYoung analogy is pretty accurate re his style. He seemed to really enjoy hanging around all weekend and was very friendly. I think he got a kick out of being at the center of a Prog festival with prog fans and seemed like a fan who wanted to see the other bands like IQ etc.

    I still think it's odd they never became a more popular "arena rock" band in the US after the success of On the Loose and Worlds Apart, given the success of Asia and the arrival of MTV etc. They somehow never capitalized on that in the US, but for some reason did in Germany.
    Last edited by DocProgger; 12-13-2018 at 11:26 AM.

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