Wednesday, May 12th, 2021
In 1982 Saga ruled the progressive and rock airwaves with songs like “On The Loose”, “Wind Him Up” and “The Flyer” They have consistently put out 23 amazing records since then and have a reputation as one of the best live bands ever. I recently had the chance to sit down with co-founder, bassist and songwriter Jim Crichton, about the band’s upcoming release Symmetry, a collection of acoustic retellings of the band’s classic songs.
What was the idea behind doing the album “Symmetry” and the acoustic re-telling of some of Saga’s greatest songs?
JIM: Well, I mean, it was really simple. On the last tour that I did, which was 2018, November, something like that, we decided to do something I always wanted to do which was open for ourselves as an acoustic band and play Saga acoustically. But don’t tell the audience. If you bought a ticket for that tour, you weren’t aware there was any opening act. Right now, when the show started, this band was being announced and half the room was empty, because nobody was showing up for the opening act. We walked out with no lighting, just white lights and actually started off with Jim Gilmore and Mike Sadler coming out and playing the beginning of “Images” by themselves. So as the thing started, I could see people weren’t even sure what they were watching. And then when the rest of us showed up, he could see the whole audience go that’s the band and what’s going on here. And then we did about a 45 minute acoustic set as an opening act. Michael, most nights would thank Saga for letting us open for them and say things like, It’s a really nice band except the singer’s really an asshole. It was pretty funny because we’re constantly thanking Saga for letting us open for them, and we just did an acoustic set which was a lot of fun to do. The record company saw it, really liked it, and asked us if we’d make an acoustic record. So we’ve had those arrangements and I’ve done some other arrangements that we didn’t do on that tour, and all those arrangements kind of turned into this record.
How did you go about choosing the songs for “Symmerty?”
JIM: Initially, I always thought that the record company would like us to do an acoustic record, obviously, there’s been plenty of acoustic records done by plenty of bands. And generally it always comes across to me like the band played this similar arrangement with acoustic guitars, instead of electric guitars, and a real set of drums. Then they would have somebody put a little forced string quartet on it or a full string section. That’s the pleasant little kind of version of the acoustic version of the band. And I thought we got to do something that you just shouldn’t do and man “Pitchman” is a great example. You’re not supposed to really play “Pitchman” acoustically. And then I thought, what’s he going to do for the guitar solo without his whammy bar and his strat? And he starts off with a banjo, which when I first heard it, I was on my hands and knees and just cried. It was just killing. I just loved it. It was so wrong, but wonderful. Yeah, you’re just not supposed to be doing this. Prog rock bands don’t use banjos for the soul. So I just thought the whole record was like that. For me, there’s a whole bunch of moments on the record where I just get a big grin. You’re not really supposed to be doing this. And it was just fun to do.
Over 40 years have passed since the Canadian prog-rock band SAGA released their self-titled debut album in 1978. Since then, they have been an exceptional musical phenomenon and toured the globe various times — all the while selling over 10 million albums worldwide.
Their sonic trademarks — synthesizer harmonies, keyboard-guitar riffs, complex arrangements, and the charismatic vocals of frontman Michael Sadler — have made Saga an influential rock act of the modern era.
In 2021, earMUSIC is celebrating the band's four-decade legacy in several ways.
First up is the The Best of Saga, a 2-CD set, featuring 25 of the band's classics spanning their entire career. Tracks like "On the Loose," "Wind Him Up," "Don't Be Late," and many more are included, as well as two bonus tracks from the recently released studio album, Symmetry. The Best of Saga is out now. Get it here. The label is also launching a reissue series and these "must own" releases will be welcome additions to the musical libraries of the Saga faithful. The reissue series includes essential Saga material from 1978 to 2007 and will be released as high-quality CD digipak editions, as well as 1LP Gatefold Edition on 180g virgin vinyl. The albums will be exquisitely remastered and reissued with enhanced artwork, rare fan material and press images, complemented extensive liner notes, and personal quotes by the band. The following titles are part of this series. Go here for more information and pre-order access.
Images At Twilight (1979)
Silent Knight (1980)
Worlds Apart (1981)
In Transit (Live) (1982)
Heads Or Tales (1983)
Read MORE in the new issue of TOTAL ORDER!
Coming May 11th