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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


Saga (vinyl)

Review by Gary Hill

This album was the one that began the Saga saga. Sorry, I tried to resist that little (very little) pun, but I just couldn't. Saga's sound brought a different angle to progressive rock. I  would argue that it was a big influence on the later prog movement. I'm not completely sold on everything here, but it definitely has plenty of charms. It also established the type sound that the band would be known for as their career progressed.

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Track by Track Review
How Long?

A fast-paced, chirpy keyboard sound opens this. Guitar eventually joins, at first edgy and rocking. Then it brings a bit of a reggae chording. The vocals come in over the top of that bouncy movement. This works through a number of twists and turns along the road from there. The extensive instrumental section at the end if packed full of prog angles and what would become Saga trademarks.

Humble Stance
A bouncy sort of reggae meets prog groove brings this number in. It works out to a cool number that seems to merge prog rock with a new wave sort of angle. It's bouncy and also meaty. It's a fun tune.
Climbing The Ladder
This song is a bit of a mixed bag for me. I mean, on the one hand, it's pretty much what you expect from Saga. The keyboards are too high in the mix, though. At times that's a pain because the sound on them is dated and it's a little annoying. At other points, though, they call to mind older prog, and that works better.
Will It Be You? (Chapter Four)
The opening build up on this makes me think of Genesis, but it eventually drives out into a fast-paced groove that's more trademark Saga. It works through some twists and turns later, and there are a couple sections that rock nearly hard enough to feel metallic.
The Perfectionist

A tasty keyboard arrangement gets things going on this number. The track works out to an arrangement that almost feels Yesish. It drops to more AOR concepts for the entrance of the vocals. This is dramatic and rather theatric. It's also a strong tune with a number of twists and turns along the road. The instrumental break on this really has a killer traditional prog feeling to it.

Give 'em The Money
This comes in feeling like Alan Parsons Project to me. That sort of vibe remains on the verses throughout. The tune has same jabbing bits of harder rocking sound on the choruses. The instrumental section on this is on fire. It has some killer keyboard work at the start and really makes me think of the band UK at the end.
Ice Nice
Dramatic keyboard textures bring this one into being. The vocals come in over the top of that arrangement in a mellower groove. While this grows upward with some killer style and charm, it remains more restrained than the rest of the album. The instrumental section later features some of the most awesome keyboard work of the whole disc. I'd consider this unusual tune to be one of my favorites here.
Tired World (Chapter Six)
Piano brings the introduction to the closer. The number grows outward and upward gradually from there. The rocking modes that take over are trademark Saga, although this was the album that established that trademark. The guitar soloing later seems to just keep reaching higher and higher. It's absolutely on fire. The tune turns toward and almost ELP vibe for a while after the guitar soloing. There is a definitely more of an old-school prog feeling to the instrumental section as it drives outward from that point.


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