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Saga - 2012 20/20

ALBUM: 20/20
LABEL: Ear Music
SERIAL: ERE-207850
YEAR: 2012


LINEUP: Michael Sadler - vocals * Jim Crichton - bass, keyboards * Ian Crichton - lead guitar * Jim Gilmour - keyboards, clarinet, vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Six Feet Under * 02 Anywhere You Wanna Go * 03 Ellery * 04 Spin It Again * 05 Another Day Out Of Sight * 06 One Of These Days * 07 Ball And Chain * 08 Lost For Words * 09 Show And Tell * 10 Till the Well Runs Dry



It wasn't too long ago that I, along with the rest of the Saga fan club were saying goodbye to Michael Sadler as part of his retirement from the band back in 2007. A big fuss was made of the event as Sadler opted for life away from the Canadian prog giants. Rob Moratti came in to fill the void and sang on their 2009 album 'The Human Condition', but that was to be it for Saga and Moratti, a one-off album, with the pair parting ways not long after. Moratti has since released a fantastic solo album and word has it that his former band Final Frontier is returning after a six year absence.. to put things back as they were. Also returning to put things back as they were is Sadler. I'm sure there's a reason why retirement didn't work out as planned, but for long time fans, the continuation of Saga's best known line-up can only be a good thing right? The only change is the addition of new drummer Mike Thorne. Their recent albums have been quite consistent, much better than a majority of their 90's output. Firstly, I love the album cover! It reminds me of the machine I was confronted with at my last eye examination! Though a review of '20/20' is based on an aural examination rather than optical, the initial prognosis is quite good.

The Songs
'Six Feet Under' is the lead-off track, with thick dense synth layers similar to that fantastic Dockers Guild release a few weeks back. It's a heavier track kept within the confines of Saga's identifiable sound structure. 'Anywhere You Wanna Go' is a very captivating track, you're drawn into it through its verses and left spiralling in melody thanks to its chorus. Nice track, the solo spot from Ian Crichton is brief and to the point. Orchestration abounds on 'Ellery', ballad based and swimming in a progressive pool of ideas and structure. The lead-in to 'Spin It Again' is very calm and mellow, but Ian's guitar bursts soon turns it on its head. The chorus more in keeping with a hard rock attitude. 'Another Day Out Of Sight' is Saga defined more by upfront guitar than keys, despite the verses being quite lightweight. The transition into a heavier chorus is noticeable, while Ian's solo borrows heavily from 70's guitarists like Trower and Beck. 'One Of These Days' is trademark Saga from their 80's era, tight sounding with fluid keys, it would be one of my favourite tracks here. Also very likeable is 'Ball And Chain', which should appeal to followers of crossover prog/AOR, it's topped by a piano solo from Gilmour. 'Lost For Words' is the second ballad on the album, with acoustic guitar and piano to the fore, it's a grandiose sounding affair carried away on a windswept arrangement of lush strings. Saga return to a coarse and more robust sound with 'Show And Tell' and finish off the set with the complex 'Till The Well Runs Dry', mild and melodic initially, but is sent off with a powerful climactic delivery. Very cool.

In Summary
I quite enjoyed '20/20' but realise also that it's a continuation of their more recent albums and is not breaking new stylistic ground for the band. That's ok, this musical style is in the outer fringe these days; radio not giving it any time or day, and it's only because of dedicated fans of the band as well as tried and true followers of both progressive rock and AOR styles that keeps Saga's name in lights. May we continue to do so. Welcome back Michael!

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#1 | Carl Noonan on September 02 2012 12:59:43
Rob Moratti also sang on the Heads or Tails live cd.
#2 | Eric on September 02 2012 22:01:11
Agree, this is a fine disc and I really don't look for anything new from Saga. What they do, they do well and that's just fine with me. Hopefully more to come.
#3 | Jez on September 04 2012 14:44:42
A 3 year wait since the previous Moratti fronted 'Human Condition' and whilst that was a good, solid Saga album, Micheal Sadler was and always will be the voice of Saga, so his return here for their 20th studio album is a very welcome one. He is, as always, in fine voice and the band sound re-invigorated too, presenting a fine collection of new material. It is typical Saga in sound with no real surprises, which is to be honest, is just the way a Saga album should be, familiar in sound, yet new fresh, high quality material. Top bits for me Ball And Chain' and 'Lost For Words' but it is all rather good. 3 spins and you'll be hooked.
#4 | Nick C on December 30 2012 19:33:07
3 Years since Human Condition..where did that time go?

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