The Canadian band Saga is best known for its biggest hit, 1981′s “On the Loose” — one of those classy rock songs that will always stand the test of time. The band’s first albums perfected a commercially appealing, progressive, polished hard rock with high-quality vocals, sharp guitars and playful keyboards/synths. And the newest album 20/20 is a return to that well-known sound. The album’s standout songs, like the catchy “Anywhere You Wanna Go,” is a transport right back there, to that late ’70s/early ’80s period.
The only difference with Saga in 2012 is, perhaps, guitarist Ian Crichton’s sound having a bit more of an aggressive nature. For instance, the guitar riffs in “Spin It Again” have a welcome metal bite to them as they team up wonderfully with the powerhouse vocals of Michael Sadler. The same can be said for “Show and Tell,” as Crichton’s sharp riffs weave in and out of a Rush-like keyboard atmosphere. And the layered backing vocals in a song like “One of These Days” have a strong Styx-like quality. Most of the songs on 20/20 have a nice ebb and flow of this kind of heavy and ethereal.
Vocalist Michael Sadler is a wonder, too. His vocals have not diminished at all. The man sounds ageless. His impact in ballads like “Lost For Words” is on par with Geoff Tate’s dramatic flair.
Saga has strayed a bit in the band’s long career, but with a return to their classic sound — with Crichton and Sadler together again — the album 20/20 not only has the right sound but it has perfect vision.
Label: Eagle Rock Entertainment (the album can be purchased here in CD format)