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Saga - The Chapters Live CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.76 | 34 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars All the chapters of 'the saga'

I'm not sure whether this should be considered the best of Saga, but it surely is very representative of the band's long career and thus a great place to start investigating the band. I don't know how they came up with the idea, but their first four albums all had tracks subtitled 'Chapter #'; the first eight songs here (the whole first disc) are taken from these albums that originally were released between 1978 and 1981. These 'chapters' appeared in non-numerical order scattered on these early albums and it is unclear to me what these songs are supposed to have in common or why they are supposed to hang together in the order indicated by the chapter numbers - as far as I can tell they are not really musically connected. However, these songs are by and large the very best songs from those first four albums and they do work very well in this running order. I certainly enjoy this live album more than any of those early studio albums that were rather weak in my opinion.

Interestingly, Saga once again picked up this tradition in 1999 (almost 20 years later) on the appropriately titled Full Circle album and they continued on the albums House Of Cards and Marathon adding up to a further eight chapters of 'the saga'. The second disc of this live set consists of these more recent songs, once again rearranged according to the chapter numbers in the song titles. So here we have the entire 'saga'. As I said, it is hard to tell why these songs are supposed to fit together in this way, or if they planned to do something like this live album all along. But it sure is a nice cross section of the band's early and more recent output.

I am not really a Saga fan and my favourite album by them - the excellent Generation 13 - does not have any tracks on it that form part of The Chapters song cycle, but still I think that this live album is a nice way to discover Saga. The Chapters Live is certainly not even close to the high quality of Generation 13, but the music featured here is definitely more representative of the band's career and their typical sound. This typical sound actually did not change very much over the years and even though these songs span the years 1978 to 2003, they sound pretty much like they were all written at the same time! Saga really has a distinctive sound that can become a bit tedious after too much exposure at one time, but they certainly have their moments.

By no means excellent, but surely a nice addition to any Prog collection and in many ways preferable to the studio albums from which the first eight songs here were taken.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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