Saga - Network

Year of Release: 2004
Label: SPV/Steamhammer
Catalog Number: 727361122126
Format: CD
Total Time: 49:44:00

This is Saga's most modern-sounding album. The songwriting is impeccable. The instrumentations are great. Poignant punches from the bass are complimented by luscious piano lines. The guitar is plucked, fingered, and strummed. Many sound effects are derived from both the guitar and keyboards. Sound bytes are intelligently integrated into this panoramic display.

They pull rabbits out of hats, doves out of sleeves, and make various members vanish only to reappear. Every trick is used. No illusion is spared for a different showing. This is certainly the main attraction. As far as I can tell, this is their best release ever.

Network captures Saga's trademark sound, but accomplishes more than any album that came before. It's even a concept album about television programming. The Buggles' "Video Killed The Radio Star" comes to mind in several places, but it is really much more rock than folly. I really like the album and approve of the direction the band has taken. The album is a marvel that should amaze you as well.

Here's a scheduled listing of what can be heard when tuning into the Saga Network:

1. "On The Air" - There are a lot of tiny details worked into this song. It is far from a wall of sound, but every instrument is well-represented in the mix. Each does their own fancy dance. The song takes many different directions and transitions often. Many times the pace quickens or does the opposite by coming to a screeching halt. This one can turn on a dime. As a result, the song is very engrossing and hard to ignore. Early on, we are hit with a highlight.

2. "Keep It Reel" - This takes Sound Gallery and Dali's Dilemma to a new and exciting level. It is progressive metal intertwined with the creativity and giddiness of A.C.T. The keyboards convincingly impersonate a foghorn throughout the song.

3. "I'm Back" - Saga continues to hit us over the head with catchy melodies and verses. This is less heavy than the previous track and brings in some kooky rhythms. The extra jolt from the guitar and bass is like a shot of caffeine straight to the bloodstream. The keyboards persist in making interesting sounds. This time using a sample that sounds quite close to a cow bell.

4. "If I Were You" - This is an excellent ballad that's a little bit rock, but has passages that are serene and pensive. Elements sound similar to Pendragon. I like very much how this one is sung and how the arrangements are organized. It's a short ditty that comes and goes too quickly. They show success no matter what they try on this album.

5. "Outside Looking In" - The song has a fascinating segue that is extremely progressive. The body is more along the lines of a Calypso. The keyboards sound like an accordion in places and come accompanied by a piano and synthesized flute. This has layers upon layers of digitized delights. It's a perfect paradigm on how to use keyboards to create wonderful symphonic sequences. The way the different parts of the song converge is quite brilliant. There is some overlap between the instrumentations in each passage, but there are definitely distinct segments. This is what Saga does best. They know how to incorporate their trademark sound and style and still keep the music fresh and crispy.

6. "Don't Look Now" - The guitar solo is outstanding and original. It should earn the esteem of any great shredder. The way it climbs the scales is very unique. The integration with the piano demonstrates clever songwriting. Left untouched, the guitar and piano make one impressive union. However, the bass assimilates fabulously into the mix and enhances the potency of this blend. At this point in the album, one will be overwhelmed by the consistency and quality of the music. This song reminds me of a hit from Toto and it is surely one of the highlights of the album.

7. "Live At Five" - This works well in tandem with the track that precedes it. The song has a moody melody and exuberant energy that's similar to Queen.

8. "Back Where We Started" - The song is a straightforward rock piece and it's classic Saga. This is a timely rest from the bombastic blitzkrieg that has been deployed up until now.

9. "Believe" - This is a great ballad in the vein of Styx, Queen, or Moody Blues. The vocal verses are pronounced with etiquette and enunciation and the song is sung with exquisite passion. The piano is all alone with the singer in the beginning. Eventually, the others jump into the fold. The guitar gives us another great solo. The song is in some ways different than all the others. It is closest to "If I Were You," but more sappy and sedated. In some ways, it is slightly depressing. The song is a guilty pleasure that would be perfect for a slow dance. If the principal is a progressive rock fan, expect this one to be played on prom night.

10. "Don't Make A Sound" - The finisher sounds like a workout montage from a Rocky training sequence. That's always a great way to bring us to the final confrontation. The fantastic ending leaves you wanting more. This album wallops us with a combination of punches from the first round to the last. Going to the cards, Network gets a winning decision from this judge and believe me, it is no fix. This album deserves a lot of attention along with many rave reviews.

On The Air (6:25) / Keep It Reel (4:18) / I'm Back (5:01) / If I Were You (3:48) / Outside Looking In (4:13) / Don't Look Now (5:05) / Live At Five (5:15) / Back Where We Started (4:16) / Believe (4:56) / Don't Make A Sound (6:18)

Michael Sadler - vocals, keyboards
Ian Crichton - guitars
Jim Crichton - bass, keyboards
Jim Gilmour - keyboards, vocals
Christian Simpson - drums

Images At Twilight (1979/1987/2002)
Silent Knight (1980/2002)
Worlds Apart (1981/2003)
In Transit (1982)
Heads Or Tails (1983)
Behavior (1985/2002)
Wildest Dreams (1987)
The Beginner's Guide to Throwing Shapes (1989)
The Security of Illusion (1993/2003)
Defining Moments (1994)
Steel Umbrellas (1995/2002)
Gen 13 (1996)
Pleasure and The Pain (1997)
Detour - Live (1998)
Full Circle (1999)
House Of Cards (2001)
Marathon (2003)
Network (2004)
Chapters Live (2005)
Trust (2006)
Remember When: The Very Best Of Saga (2006)
Worlds Apart Revisited (2007)
10,000 Days (2007)
The Human Condition (2009)

Silhouette (DVD) (2003)
All Areas: Live In Bonn 2002 (CD/DVD) (2004)
Worlds Apart Revisited (CD/DVD) (2006/2007)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin CA

Added: October 24th 2004
Reviewer: Joshua "Prawg Dawg" Turner
Artist website:
Hits: 1934
Language: english


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