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Saga: The Beginner's Guide to Throwing Shapes (remaster)

And then there were three...

That's basically what you have here on one of Saga's late 80's albums, just released in its new remastered form. Pretty much trashed by die-hard Saga fans, The Beginner's Guide to Throwing Shapes features only members Ian and Jim Crichton, and Michael Sadler, as the band had basically splintered over the direction of the Behaviour album, seeing Steve Negus and Jim Gilmour leave the band for a few years. While many of the trademark Saga sounds remain intact, the presence of progammed drums and pop/dance melodies is a bit disturbing. Ian Crichton's guitar though is a bit more prominent, as he cuts through the gloss to make tracks like "How Do I Look", "Shape", or the new wave/techno of "The Nineties" a tad more palatable. Keyboards tend to be used here more for texture and less for lead melodies and solos. "Scarecrow" is a pretty decent hard rocker, and "Waiting in the Wings" is actually a fantastic pop tune with intricate instrumentation, one of the bands best tunes and easily one of the highlights of the album. The 7 minute closer "Giant" is also a strong tune, with crunchy guitar work and complex arrangements, but could have used a stronger keyboard base. A nice bonus track is included, a live version of "Framed", a tune from World's Apart.

In summary, an album that falls a bit flat but is probably not as bad as many make it out to be. Featuring a few sappy ballads, and some decent hard rock pieces to go along with a small assortment of exceptional songs, those new to Saga should investigate this one after hearing most of their more essential releases.

Added: June 6th 2003
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Saga World
Hits: 4550
Language: english

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