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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Saga

Spin It Again: Live in Munich

Review by Gary Hill

Saga is such a cool band. And, with Michael Sadler back, it’s the original voice. Their sound is so unique to them. They’ve got a 1980s pop meets progressive rock sound with some great keyboards and crunchy guitars. This live performance is quite good. I’m reviewing the video release in the same issue, but this one will focus more on the songs themselves.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Anywhere You Wanna Go
Keyboards open things here and serve as the primary instrumentation as the cut works outward. It powers out from there into an AOR oriented prog rocker. We get a killer bridge that’s a bit on the heavy side. A guitar solo section emerges from there.
Mouse in a Maze
This is another high energy prog rocker. It’s a bit harder edged than the previous cut. It’s got a really accessible hook. I absolutely love the killer instrumental section on this thing.
Careful Where You Step
Another rocking progressive rock tune, this is a bit catchier than some of the other music here.
The Perfectionist
Quirky, hard rocking progressive rock, this is another killer. There is a mellower drop back at one point. At times Sadler’s vocal performance makes me think just a bit of Fish. This is another classy progressive rock tune. In some ways, it’s less mainstream and more complex than some of the other stuff here.
You're Not Alone
Another killer Saga tune, this one is more accessible in some ways. It has a short crowd sing-along section late in the track. 
Spin It Again
One of the harder rockers of the set, this is another killer tune.
Corkentellis
There are keyboards all over this scorcher. It twists this way and that in a frantic jam that’s incredibly cool. Guitar also solos a lot in the later portions of this instrumental. For some reason, this makes me think of Rush’s “YYZ” just a bit.
The Flyer

Here we get another smoking hot Saga rocker. It’s got one of the more active vocal arrangements and all the instruments find chances to shine, too.

Fish Beat
This is an extended drum solo.
Disc 2
Six Feet Under
I like the piano on this. The guitar sound is, as always, great. The vocal arrangement is among the most interesting ones here. There are some accessible hooks, too.
The Cross
Another trademark Saga sound is the concept here. It’s a cool progressive rocker with a lot of pop rock elements at play.
Time's Up
Here we get a great piano based prog ballad.
Scratching the Surface
Although this is also a piano and voice piece, it’s not a ballad at all. It rocks out despite the stripped back arrangement.
Tired World (Chapter 6)
While this is more typical of the “Saga sound,” it’s not a generic piece by any means. I love the keyboard sounds on it and the instrumental sections later in the track are killer. There is some seriously dramatic interplay between the keyboards and the guitar at times. This is one of my favorites from the set, really.
Humble Stance
This might be the best tune here. It starts with something a bit like European café music turned prog. We get bouncy stuff here along with more dramatic music as the contrast. This is one of the most dynamic and dramatic cuts on show.
On the Loose
This was Saga’s big hit and it still holds up really well. It’s a great prog jam that manages to be accessible at the same time. It’s easy to see why this was a hit, but it’s also quite meaty.
Wind Him Up
I’ve always loved this one, too. It’s a killer Saga prog rocker and works really well in this live telling, too. I love the contrast between the harder edged sections and the mellower ones. The vocals are great, but so is the music.
Framed
Here we get another high energy Saga tune. The bass really catches my attention on this one, but that’s not at the detriment of anything else. Indeed, both the keyboards and the guitar also stand out and Sadler’s vocals are, as always, great.
Don't Be Late (Chapter 2)
I love the vocal arrangement on this and the melodies are just great. The crowd joins in on the vocals and this is a dramatic piece that’s one of the best here.
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