Two weekends ago, the PP Guru went out of his way to be a bad PP Guru, even whilst surrounded by mounting credit card debt and health care bills, he went progging out anyway due to a couple of reasons: A). His favorite gal pal, *Ahem* Film Star Neighbor went out to celebrate her birthday with friends in Las Vegas and therefore, since the PP Guru went and shedded his tempteous thrills in the Broadway of the West the previous week, the PP Guru had to shrink away from boredom with something (we've sort of like, uhm made up and we spent last Saturday together being platonic best buds in helping out with garage sales and swimming lessons. The PP Guru liked the swimming lessons the best, other than, uhm... getting clobbered in the head by a life perserver. But it was an accidental throw, The PP Guru assures you. ) and B). *Ahem* Film Star Neighbor was out of town for the weekend. So the PP Guru was fucking bored.
So therefore, it was the best excuse to become accquainted with the new Saga album.
Well, PP Guru, just what or who the fuck is Saga anyway? You've never mentioned them before.
Well, simple acolyte reader - you're right. I've never mentioned Saga before - because they are Canada's best defense against bland chart topping music holocausts caused by the misplaced muzak genocide dystopian denizens of American Idols. Toronto's true sons stick true to their formula of rapid firing counterpoint exchanges between plexi-melodious guitar and keyboard riffs (more so than Rush, the PP Guru is afraid to admit) for the warfront being fought for the past thirty years has been the PP Guru's best kept secret since his later days of high school and college when he purchased their 1981 album World's Apart simply on a whim.
And since then, they've always held a special place in the PP Guru's heart.
Befuddled memories continue to crop up in the PP Guru's cranium, on a well wishy washy upheaved time machine ride to those not so glorious days of the PP Guru's tenure in toxicity turvy land of New Jersey when he first discovered the album, Worlds Apart in some long forgotten record store in Morris County Mall somewhere just adjacent to Morristown. The band's name was probably familar to him through such NBC late night Friday fare such as the Midnight Special or Don Kirshnir's Rock Concert- or it may have been that the PP Guru was more impressed when they he had seen them live as an opening act for Jethro Tull at the Meadowlands's Brendan Byrne Arena- but as for the year - it comes as a fogged blur as to when Tull was touring behind Broadsword and the Beast- but nonetheless, their unique style of muscianship ( what the PP Guru means is that there's usually lots of counterpointing interplay between guitarist Ian Crichton and keyboardist Jim 'Daryl' Gilmour - counterpointing, i.e; one would start off a riff and the other would finish it, or both will play it in unison. ) prompted the PP Guru to pick up the 1981 Rupert Hine produced World's Apart and just wear the shit out of the grooves. The PP Guru must have went through like, ...three or four copies before committing it to cassette. (Now the cassette is buried somewhere in storage and hasn't been able to locate a CD copy anywhere).
The PP Guru practically force fed this album to the entire town of Parsippany, New Jersey. His friends, the Zullo brothers both got copies for their birthdays. The PP Guru's sister (PP Guru Jewette - PP Guru J for short - got one for her birthday (hey, back up copy!). Throughout high school, the young ambitious PP Guru sang out and tried to (with some certain degrees of success) sing the virtues of Michael Sadler's very despaired claustrophobic lyrics to "Framed" and "Amnesia " when his locker got broken into and someone planted some giggle weed contraband in it as he being dragged away to the principal's office (the charges didn't stick- only because the PP Guru's stepfather, In Sorely Need of a Reality Check Roger had narc buddies on the police force. They knew the PP Guru wouldn't be smart to be caught toking on his own gymsocks, right? (...uhm right) ). The PP Guru knew every song and every lyric by heart- so much that he had to share them with his high school compatriots by singing them in the halls, in the gym locker, and even in the study much to the pissed off chagrin of his fellow classmates.
He even sang the lyrics to Wind Him Up and Framed when he got toasted on blackberry Schnaps and vomitted on various carpets of his fellow classmates on favorite Friday get- togethers. But throughout the adolescent difficulty, this album has always been fondly remembered for it's historical achievement- it was the first record ever to feature the remarkable innovation of the Simmons Electrical Drum Kit making it's debut by drummer Steve Negus on Wind Him Up - and this was approximately back in the day when the Human League and Soft Cell were burning up the charts with Don't You Want Me and Tainted Love with teeny tiny Linn drum machine boxes.
Eventually, the album caught on with the rest of the US, seeing as how the Worlds Apart album achieved Top 100 album status on the Billboard chart with the opening single "On the Loose" peaking at #28 on the singles chart and the video got massive amounts of airplay on MTV. Wind Him Up also enjoyed similar success.
The PP Guru was attending County College of Morris in Dover, New Jersey as a Music major while minoring in Psychology (a interesting blend of electives the PP Guru would be modest to say) when their follow up, Head or Tails was released. The reason the PP Guru remembers that is because he used to take the album to class with him and listen to it in the phonograph private booths that were provided by the campus library on break periods (or when he wasn't beating the shit out of the piano keys in the music conservatory practice booths). The opener track, The Flyer still is prominent in the PP Guru mind's as well as the best song ever written unintentionally about the PP Guru's plight in trying to survive his stepfather, In Sorely Need of a Reality Check Roger 's facist and racist political views with The Vendetta (Still Helpless). It's that line in the song about he's running his family like a military installation' that still grabs the PP Guru's attention to this very day. Heads or Tails, in the PP Guru's humble opinion, still boasts the best album climax in any of his collection, the highly polished counterpointing interplay Glockenspiel / guitar finish of The Pitchman.
And when their sixth studio release, Misbehavior was released in 1985, the PP Guru was firmly established living out on the coast of San Diego enjoying the sunshine, the beach, and enrolling as many bikini clad acolytes as he could when the single off that album, What Do I Know was getting heavy rotation on MTV. Other stand out tracks that the PP Guru was most fond were Listen to Your Heart and Out of the Shadows.
Then main keyboardist Jim Gilmour and drummer Steve Negus left and the band went on hiatus for a while. Jim and Steve did a duo project together, leaving Sadler and the Crichton boys to their own devices. The result, 1987's Wildest Dreams wasn't really up to the PP Guru's standards- utilizing a studio session drummer that did not have the flavor or their successes of their previous three albums. However, Sadler and the Crichtons did try to do something totally different, an almost exponentally experimental effort in electronic euphoria called The Beginner's Guide to Throwing Shapes which is the only album to feature the band's longest song, Giant, clocking in at 7 minutes and 10 seconds. (Most Saga tracks don't even go past the 5 minute mark. Saga is quite capable of fitting good prog riffs in tasty snack size pieces).
Gilmour and Negus returned to the fold for 1991's Security of Illusion, which is regarded as one of their heaviest efforts, each track is practically recites Ozzy Osborne, RATT, or Motley Crue riffs as a influence on most of the album's tracks. Ian Crichton really turns up the decibels, pausing to cut an acoustic break on the mesmerizing title track and a Gilmour piano recital precedes a Steve Negus foray into third world rhythm drum beats on the Without You closer.
The band and it's members has pretty much stayed a steady course with only Steve Negus coming and going at various times when he damn well pleases. Their most ambitious effort, a concept album, Generation 13 released in 1995 marked the first time that the band was settling in Los Angeles to do the bulk of their future recordings. Every two years or so, the band was putting out product like clockwork. The albums; The Pleasure and the Pain, Full Circle, House of Cards, Marathon, and Network were the latest that were written and recorded just around the corner from the PP Guru's Peyote Place at Valley Sound Studios in Van Nuys, Ca .
Coincidentally, at the time the PP Guru is jotting this down, the band's website has made an announcement that they are celebrating their 29th anniversary this week . The tally card is: 17 studio albums, 4 live albums, with the remaining five being either best of collections or box set compilation projects. So that's a total output of 26 albums so far. Not too shabby if the PP Guru says himself. In fact, the PP Guru DOES says so himself.
Today, Saga is enjoying renewed success, acredited to the deal that they've signed with that magnificent record label that appeals to the hard-core progger, such as the PP Guru himself , Insideout Music (Jennifer Johnson - are you taking this down?). This has helped the band achieve top twenty status in Germany with their latest studio offering, Trust. The single from the album, It's Your Life is a major radio hit right now. Saga has just returned from a tremendously successful tour from Europe! Hopefully some North American dates will follow. The PP Guru is just having himself a arthritic apendage coronary trying to figure out Gilmour's stabbing duel licks with Crichton on his Alesis keyboard (would have been better if it was a Korg Triton workstation, though ). The old stalwart magic is still there: Sadler's voice shows no sign of wear or tear. Both Crichton brothers are crunching in the bass and guitar arrangements by sheer gale force (just listen to the title track - and if that doesn't shred, then the PP Guru can't help you get a new set of ears, pal ) Jim 'Daryl' Gilmour has always a tasty palate of keyboard patches ( and plays a mean oboe on the track, My Friend too) that focuses on ghost strings and mean percussive instruments such as marimbas and xylophones. The keyboard solo towards the end of Back to the Shadows is a triumph true to form return to the synthesizer spaz out (which the PP Guru is so preoccupied with mastering at the moment). Overall, it's a tremendous album which lifts the PP Guru up when the Shingles really get him down.
So here's to another 29 years. Can you say that there is No Regrets to the: ~ Coat
Saga is a Progressive rock quintet, formed in Canada. Bassist-keyboardist Jim Crichton (b. February 26th, 1953) and Welsh-born vocalist Michael Sadler (b. 1954) have been the principal songwriters for Saga. Ian Crichton (b. August 3rd, 1956) is the band's guitarist. Apart from his work with Saga, he has recorded several solo albums as well as sessions with Asia. The band's keyboardist, Jim "Daryl" Gilmour (b. 1958), replaced Peter Rochon in 1980. After the 2003 "Marathon" tour, Steve Negus (b. February 19th, 1952) announced his retirement as Saga's original drummer. Christian Simpson, a Canadian-American, replaced Negus for 2004's "Network" album, until sidelined by a neurological condition that affected his drumming. In late 2005, former Helix member Brian Doerner became Saga's third drummer in as many years.
Originally known as The Pockets, SAGA formed in 1977 from the nucleus of popular Canadian rock band Fludd. In June 1978, they released their self-titled debut album. A modest success in Canada, it would eventually sell over 30,000 copies in Germany as an import. Their 1979 follow-up album "Images at Twilight" gave them their first hit in Canada with the lead single "It's Time" peaking at #84 in the Canadian Charts. A third album "Silent Knight" followed in 1980.
In 1981, the band's 4th album "Worlds Apart" was released. The lead single "Wind Him Up", a song about a compulsive gambler, finally broke them into the Top 40, peaking at #22 on the Canadian Charts in January of 1982. A second single "On the Loose" also fared well, and in December of 1982, proved to be their breakthrough in America where it peaked at #26 on the Billboard Charts. "Wind Him Up" became the second single in America, and peaked at #64 on Billboard in April of 1983.
A 5th album "Heads or Tales" was released in late 1983 and became another success. The lead single "The Flyer" fared well in Canada and also became their final U.S. hit, peaking at #79 on Billboard in November of 1983. A follow-up single "Scratching the Surface" was popular in Canada, peaking at #45 in April of 1984
Their 6th album "Behaviour" was released in 1985, and launched hits in Canada with "Listen to Your Heart" and "What Do I Know"
Separation and Reunion
In 1986, Steve Negus and Jim Gilmour left Saga amicably, recording one album as the Gilmour-Negus Project (GNP). Meanwhile, Saga continued with Michael Sadler and the Crichton brothers augmented by session musicians.
Their 1987 release Wildest Dreams enjoyed better distribution under new label, Atlantic Records, but it failed to match expectations in America. The lead single "Only Time Will Tell" became a popular Chart favourite in Canada
For 1989's The Beginner's Guide to Throwing Shapes, Saga refocused on their earlier European popularity which marked a return to their earlier Progressive style. In 1993, Steve Negus and Jim Gilmour returned to Saga. The band's next album, The Security of Illusion, was well received by Saga fans in Canada and Europe. The 1994 followup, Steel Umbrellas, was considered uneven when compared to their previous release, perhaps due the material originally being produced for the short-lived television series Cobra. However, despite lackluster album sales, Saga's 1993 and 1994 tours helped maintain some of the band's early popularity their reputation as live performers was not lost among the band's long time fans.
In 1995, Jim Crichton composed and produced the majority of Saga's next album, the conceptual Generation 13. Inspired by a popular political treatise by the same name, the story follows main character Jeremy's troubled search for his real father. The concept is somewhat reminiscent of the storyline in The Who's Quadrophenia. The album's heavier compositions have a sound similar to fellow Canadians, Prog legends Rush and even early Kansas. Michael Sadler's vocal performances on the more softer tracks were another album highlight. Saga's next release, Pleasure and the Pain was released on the eve of their 20th anniversary tour in 1997. The album failed to maintain the interest created by the previous release.
Their 1998 tour was captured on the next album, Detours, a double-live album released worldwide. Saga's first albums were recorded at Phase One Studios. In 1998, Jim Crichton released their 1979 sessions on the next album, Phase 1 which were produced by Paul Gross, who would go on to work with Queensryche. Saga's next three albums, 1999's Full Circle, 2001's House of Cards and Marathon released in 2003 have been all been popular with the band's longtime and loyal fanbase. House of Cards, in particular enjoyed renewed interest. Its acoustic-flavored single, "Money Talks" received Top 5 video airplay in Canada. All three albums included new "chapters", representing a return to the progressive rock of the band's early days. Saga released a new studio album, Network, in the fall of 2004. Their next album, Trust, was released in 2006, featuring Brian Doerner as their new drummer. Doerner made his debut on a live Canadian television Broadcast in late 2005.
Even though Jim Crichton and Michael Sadler both live in Los Angeles, they have not committed Saga to any American tour dates However, in late 2005, Michael Sadler announced a limited tour on the West Coast to promote his solo album, Clear. The trek featured Ian Crichton as touring guitarist.
Legacy and Future plans
Despite their fluctuating musical styles and limited commercial success, Saga fans have remained extremely loyal over the decades. Their unique use of keyboards often involves three members playing synthesizers onstage. The band's multi-song cycle "the Chapters" which appeared on their first four albums and were revisited on the band's newer albums starting in 1999, have been performed live throughout the band's extensive career.
Saga released their newest studio album, Trust in 2006. The album is to be supported by a world tour commencing in Germany in April.
- Michael Sadler – Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Keyboards
- Jim Crichton – Bass, Keyboards
- Jim Gilmour – Keyboards, Clarinet, Harmonika
- Ian Crichton – Guitar
- Brian Doerner – Drums
- Christian Simpson – Drums (2003-2005)
- Steve Negus – Drums (1977-1986, 1992-2003)
- Graham Lear – Drums (1988-1991)
- Curt cress – Drums (1987)
- Peter Rochon – Keyboards (1977-1978)
- Gregg Chadd – Keyboards (1979)
Images At Twilight (1979)
Silent Knight (1980)
Worlds Apart (1981)
Heads or Tales (1983)
Wildest Dreams (1987)
The Beginner's Guide to Throwing Shapes (1989)
The Security of Illusion (1993)
Steel Umbrellas (1994)
Generation 13 (1995)
Pleasure & The Pain (1997)
Phase One (1998)
Full Circle (1999)
House of Cards (2001)
In Transit - Live (1982)
How Do I Look (1998)
Detours - Live (1998)
The Official Bootleg (2003)
All Areas - Live In Bonn (2004)
Chapters Live (2005)
The Works (1990)
All The Best (1993)
The Very Best Of (1994)
Defining Moments (1994)
- Sagaontour.com - The Official Site of Saga
- MichaelSadler.com - The Official Site of Saga's Front Man
- SteveNegus.com - The Official Site of Saga's EX Drummer
- JimGilmour.net - The Official Site of Saga's Keyboard Player
- Worlds Apart 2.0 - The Official Fan Community
- SAGA Germany - The Official German SAGA Fanclub
Bla bla bla bla - aside to Guru - Plain text so I can format the next blog more easily. Bla bla bla.