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Saga: 20/20

20/20 is the latest release from Canadian AOR/prog act Saga, and the title not only is symbolic as the 20th release for the band, but also a good luck wish to keyboard player Jim Gilmour, who had to undergo an eye operation during Saga's latest European tour. 20/20 stands for the perfect eyesight. This brand new CD is also the first for the group since the recent return of Michael Sadler, who left the band back in 2009, making way for singer Rob Moratti to step into his shoes for the album The Human Condition. Though a fine album, that marriage didn't quite work for the band nor the fans, and Sadler once again is back where he belongs, fronting this long running group who haven't missed a step here on 20/20.

With their mix of complex keyboard arrangements, crunchy guitar riffs, catchy hooks, and soaring vocals, Saga have always had a unique and well recoginized sound, and all those elements are here on 20/20. As good a singer as Moratti is, once you hear Sadler's familiar tone on the energetic openerSix Feet Under, it's as if Michael had never left in the first place. With tasty guitar solos from Ian Crichton and Gilmour's walls of keys, this is a fun and memorable rocker to kick off the CD with. Fluttering synths and Crichton's wah-wah guitar riffs lead in "Anywhere You Wanna Go", another catchy rocker with memorable vocal hooks delivered by Sadler, and the keyboard dominated "Ellery" shows Saga's penchant for coming up with melodic, synth based pop music. The heavier "Spin It Again" follows, with Crichton's beefy, metallic riffs leading the charge over symphonic synths and an aggressive vocal from Sadler. "Another Day Out of Sight" is another pop/AOR based number with a great hook, and the band toss in a decent amount of complex prog on the symphonic "One Of These Days", as the rhythm team of bassist Jim Crichton & drummer Brian Doerner lock into a tight groove over which Ian's guitar rampages and the 'wall of keys' floats. Some nice guitar & synth interplay on this one too, making for one of the highlight tracks here on 20/20.

The slightly darker but no less majestic contains some polished, sparkling arrangements, as well as nicely layered vocal textures from Sadler & Gilmour, while the lush ballad "Lost For Words", though perhaps the only forgettable track here, does have a sizzling guitar solo from Crichton. The band dive right back into upbeat, metallic prog/pop on the cranking "Show and Tell", complete with bursts of keyboards and Crichton's lethal guitar riffs, and the CD closes out with "Till the Well Runs Dry", a soaring, melodic keyboard drenched rocker that has a lot to offer for the prog-rock lovers out there. With Sadler's sophisticated deliver, stunning keyboard textures, and the right amount of sizzling guitar work, this track is sure to be a Saga classic in the making. My guess is the band will keep punping out quality music like this 'till the well runs dry'...

I'll be honest, though my review is extremely positive, 20/20 was not a CD that I found to be instantly accessible, and it took multiple listens to finally warm up to a lot of these songs. For my money, there are probably 1 or 2 too many ballady type songs on here, but otherwise, there are a handful of tunes that are simply outstanding, and the playing throughout is stellar, which should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the band. The main thing is that Sadler is back, and he sounds fantastic, once again pushing this veteran group to the lofty artistic heights that they've always achieved. It's a shame that this great band have never really regained the success that they briefly tasted in the early/mid '80s, because they sure as hell have continued to crank out excellent music over the last two decades. 20/20 is another in a fine line of enjoyable albums from this polished act.

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

Added: August 19th 2012
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2533
Language: english

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