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Saga - Detours CD (album) cover

DETOURS

Saga

 

Crossover Prog

4.07 | 32 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars Pain in the studio & pleasure on stage

Saga was an almost paradoxical band during what I in other reviews have called their "in between years" (the period after their classic albums in the late 70's and early 80's and before the return to their classic sound with the Full Circle album in the late 90's and the string of good albums that followed in the new millennium). During these in between years, the band's output was uneven to say the least, and the 90's in particular was a real roller-coaster ride with their best and most highly rated album ever (the conceptual masterpiece Generation 13) being released in between two of their least highly rated albums ever (Steel Umbrellas and The Pleasure & The Pain). The Pleasure & The Pain was really one of the band's weakest studio albums ever, so what a very positive surprise it was to hear this excellent live album that was recorded on the tour for that very album. Wisely, only two songs from that album made it into the set list. The rest of this two-disc live album is made up of an endless string of Saga classics and a few newer songs thrown in for good measure. What's even better is that almost every song here is performed with an energy, power and passion that far outshine the original studio recordings. Especially those from the late 70's and early 80's constitute evident improvements; there is simply more punch in these live recordings.

In typical Prog-fashion, the show is opened with a classical piece in The Hall Of The Mountain King. After this forceful neo-classical introduction, the band embarks on a tour de force of classic songs with the first seven following the intro track are taken from classic albums like 1981's Worlds Apart, 1980's Silent Knight and the self-titled debut from 1978. The latter is represented with no less than four tracks in total including the progressive Ice Nice, The Perfectionist and a prolonged rendition of Humble Stance. Other moments notable from a Prog perspective include the aforementioned introduction, the unforgettable Don't Be Late and a very pleasant, Keith Emerson-like piano solo (entitled William's Walkabout). Less progressive, but still very good classic songs include The Interview, On The Loose, The Flyer and Scratching The Surface. Among the newer (at the time of the performance) songs, we find the very good acoustic title-track from The Security Of Illusion album, another acoustic song in I Walk With You from Steel Umbrellas, The Cross from Generation 13 and Heaven Can Wait from The Pleasure & The Pain. With the caveat that I have yet to hear Steel Umbrellas, I must say that these selections are among the best from their respective albums. I would very much have liked to hear more from Generation 13, but you cannot have everything can you?

Overall, this is a very solid and enjoyable live album that came as a great surprise given that it was recorded on the tour in support of such a blunder as The Pleasure & The Pain. With only a few weaker tracks (Welcome To The Zoo and Take A Chance), Detours is an excellent live document and sufficient evidence in its own right that Saga was a force to be reckoned with on stage at the end of the 20st century.

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |

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