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Saga - 1985 Behaviour




ARTIST: Saga
ALBUM: Behaviour
LABEL: Portrait, Maze (Canada)
SERIAL: BFR 40145, ML 8010
YEAR: 1985
CD REISSUE: 1994, Polydor, 825 840-2 * 2002, Steamhammer, SPV 7436A CD-E

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Michael Sadler - vocals, keyboards, bass * Jim Crichton - keyboards, bass * Jim Gilmour - keyboards * Ian Crichton - guitars * Steve Negus - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Listen To Your Heart * 02 Take A Chance * 03 What Do I Know * 04 Misbehaviour * 05 Nine Lives Of Miss Midi * 06 You And The Night * 07 Out Of The Shadows * 08 Easy Way Out * 09 Promises * 10 Here I Am * 11 (Goodbye) Once Upon A Time

WEBLINKS: www.saga-world.com


Background
Saga had experienced immediate success in Europe right from the debut in 1978, most especially in Germany and surrounding territories. Rock listeners there responded enthusiastically to their prog/pomp rock hybrid sound, melodically aware enough to appeal to the AOR contingent as well. By 1981 Saga hit the big time with their fourth disc 'Worlds Apart', such top 40 hits as 'On The Loose' and 'Wind Him Up' finally leading to gold success in North America. 'Heads Or Tales' followed in 1983 and stuck to the 'Worlds Apart' formula, again fusing a higher AOR element into the familiar pomp rock approach. It performed admirably but could not match the success that 'Worlds Apart' had enjoyed. It's a very high wire to walk, trying to please your label and fans while at the same time going for creative satisfaction. The word in 1985 was that the record label wanted 'the big one' and Saga responded with the much discussed and maligned 'Behaviour' album. Was all the criticism warranted?


The Songs
'Listen To Your Heart' sounds like a dreamscape from some alpine airport of the future before stuttering into period Rush territory. It comes across a little chilly at first but ultimately rewards the listener with anthemic power and momentum. 'Take A Chance' is a contradiction: essentially a pleasing AOR workout complete with charming chorus, it trips over the 'clickety clack' drum track. Certainly a rhythm more suited to Adam And The Ants and the like, end result is a potential winner somewhat spoiled. 'What Do I Know' is a different matter though, digital drums in evidence but the simple 4/4 rhythm dovetails with the ethereal melody to powerful effect. Take a few listens to this one, the chorus sounds too simple at first but then the vocal echoes hit you and completes the effect. Maybe magic is just simplicity with a twist? 'Misbehaviour' unleashes Ian Crichton's guitar as Saga gets the lead out and rock. Tasty hooks and melodies weaving around the ever present synth inviting another tick in the win column. 'Nine Lives Of Miss Midi' provides a soundscape intro to 'You And The Night', a dreamy companion to previous Saga softworks like 'Time's Up' or 'Intermission'. 'Out Of The Shadows' raises the pulse with a ton of melodic drama, digidrums again delivering the right foundation for the slightly edgy melody. Fantastic song. 'Easy Way Out' is straight ahead AOR, uptempo and coming across like the point where Rush and Journey meet. A chorus/bridge dynamic is in place to the extent you can't tell which is which, a dizzying exercise in melody. Feels like you get two choruses here, coffee meter demanding a refill after this anthem. 'Promises' returns to ballad territory but sporting more of a tempo, repeated listens reveal this could have been a radio hit if the easy melody were given the chance to reach the masses. Here I Am invokes Rush/Journey references again, maybe a sideplate of 80's BJH thrown in. More currents in that chorus than a big swell at J-Bay, waves of melody literally crashing over you. The end is special as well, flowing into album closer '(Goodbye) Once Upon A Time' via some haunting piano tinkling and a schoolyard full of children at play - the effect very powerful indeed. As for the aforementioned 'Goodbye', it's the only real concession to their prog origins, making it a firm favourite among admirers of their early work. It meanders at times, but does pick up some power and a surge of rhythm at chorus time. Feels like coming home, it's classic status well deserved.


In Summary
'Behaviour' yielded two singles, first the minor hit 'What Do I Know', and second 'Take A Chance' (possibly not the best choice). Despite it's many AOR qualities the album failed in North America compared to the previous two. Saga's European strongholds did report more encouraging sales, but it wasn't enough to prevent conflict in the band. When Steve Negus and Jim Gilmour departed, the Crichton brothers and Michael Sadler recruited drummer Curt Cress and soldiered on. The resulting 'Wildest Dreams' remains criminally underrated. Meanwhile, criticism of 'Behaviour' was widespread as fans and critics were bemoaning the diminished prog element. For my money, 'Behaviour' is their masterpiece ... And with Winter approaching the South African Highveld there are two certainties : strong coffee and regular airplay for 'Behaviour'. Go on, give it another try.


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Comments

#1 | Eric on April 15 2012 17:06:37
One of Saga's better albums. Nice review Lee and right on the mark.
#2 | reyno-roxx on April 16 2012 12:25:06
A great album, but I feel that during this era the ensuing 'Wildest Dreams' and 'The Beginner's Guide To Throwing Shapes' were superior in terms of a more consistent delivery of songs.
#3 | AOR Lee on April 16 2012 17:52:10
Thanks Eric, I always was a sucker for melody. Guess it shows!
#4 | Nick C on April 16 2012 21:50:20
Yeah a wonderful album, I don't think Saga have made a really bad album .... maybe Pleasure and Pain was their worst and it took me a while to get into Generation 13 but the gentle prodding of Jez awakened me to G13's treasures.
I distinctly remember buying this the day it came out, even down to which pub I went in while clutching it...and one quite surprising conversation I had with a now long long gone ex-girlfriend in said pub at the same time. But I waffle..as usual...top album!
#5 | Jez on April 17 2012 00:02:15
fter 'Worlds Apart',my favourite mid period Saga release. Excellent material and performances from all the band and a much stronger release in general than 'Heads or Tales'. 'What Do I Know' was the single release from this, and is probably the most commercial song the band have ever released. Ian Crichton and Michael Sadler are out of this world (as ever)on this.
#6 | sabace on April 17 2012 14:30:37
great record, my fave lp by SAGA
#7 | super80boy on October 03 2015 17:37:24
Not abandoning their progressive roots, but inching more into the commercial AOR arena was a good thing. Misbehaviour is a quality track and a favorite, along with 'Out Of The Shadows'. 'What Do I Know' has the building blocks to be a standout, but it just never gets off the ground. The closing 'Once Upon A Time' has signature Saga sounds, reminiscent from the Worlds Apart LP. A step below the World Apart LP, but a quality release for sure!
#8 | melodiapositiva on December 25 2016 18:46:19
Terrific album! i like Saga more doing aor than the proggy stuff they are doing nowadays .

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