You are currently browsing the archives for the Classic Rockers You Should Know category.
Classic Rock News And Views
August 4, 2008
Another Canadian act occupies this slot in the "Classic Rockers You Should Know" (yeah, I know it’s been a while) series.
Saga broke onto the scene here in the U.S. with the hit single "On The Loose" from their Worlds Apart album back in the early 1980′s where I was first exposed to them on MTV. That was back in the early days of music video channels when they actually played a lot of good stuff.
I still remember seeing them on MTV for the first time and being drawn to their unique sound. To me they did not sound quite like any other band I had ever heard and I could not take my eyes off the screen. There was something very captivating about their performance.
It’s rather difficult to pigeon hole them into any particular style or genre, I might personally classify it as something like "Theatrical Progressive Rock."
Saga’s popularity in the U.S. was short-lived and the single "The Flyer" was their final hit here. During 1987, after drummer Steve Negus and keyboardist Jim Gilmour left the group, they released Wildest Dreams, which spawned a single entitled "Only Time Will Tell," that was a hit in Canada and picked up a little airtime on MTV for a short time.
During 1993 Negus and Gilmour returned to the band and they later released The Security of Illusion, which was followed by Steel Umbrellas, and did not do as well as the previous album, which some attribute to the fact that the music on the album was originally produced for a television series called Cobra, which did not last long.
In 1995 Saga seemed to get back on track and released Generation 13, which some have compared to the sound of fellow Canadians Rush or Kansas in their early years — two of my all-time favorite classic acts.
My personal collection of Saga albums ends with Full Circle from 1999, so I cannot speak for their work following that, but the band endured more changes in 2005 when drummer Steve Negus was replaced by Brian Doerner.
In 2007, lead singer Michael Sadler left the band, saying he wanted to retire from the road and spend more time with his family, but the band continued and began the search for a new lead singer.
During April, the named hired Rob Moratti as their new lead vocalist and planned to begin touring this summer. So far, according to their official website, the only performance so far this year was on June 20th at the Old Roxy Theatre in Mount Forest, Ontario. The website also indicates that "more shows will be added soon."
Although my familiarity with Saga is limited to their earlier work, and I have not had the opportunity to hear how they sound with new frontman Rob Moratti, there is an extensive collection of great music that endures the test of time and still stands out as one of the most unique-sounding rock acts I have heard.
My personal collection consists of the following albums: Saga (1978), Images at Twilight (1979), Silent Knight (1980), Worlds Apart (1981), Heads or Tales (1983), Behaviour (1985), The Security of Illusion (1993), Steel Umbrellas (1994), Generation 13 (1995), Pleasure & the Pain (1997), Phase One (1997), Full Circle (1999) and Trust (2006).
Saga has enjoyed continued popularity in Germany and Puerto Rico throughout their career and have a very loyal base of fans in both countries. A 1981 concert in Puerto Rico resulted in a riot when fans tried to gain access to a sold out show.
It would be interesting if some classic rock radio stations would try giving some of this stuff a spin and see what kind of reaction they got. Maybe they would find out that I am the only Saga fan in the country, or, maybe not.
Below are a couple of videos that I managed to find on YouTube that will give those who have not heard them a chance to get a feel for their sound. I’m doubtful that they sound quite as good as they did before the departure of Moratti, but I will certainly give the latest incarnation of the group a listen if I get a chance.
February 21, 2008
This is the first in a series that I plan to do with the hope of introducing some lesser-known classic rock artists to people who may have never heard of them. These certainly are not unknown artists, but I feel that they never really got the attention I believe they deserved from the music industry here in the U.S.
First up is Canadian rocker Kim Mitchell, who I was first introduced to back in the 1980′s when he was fronting a band called Max Webster. The group managed to get some U.S. radio airplay with their song "Battle Scar," which featured the guys from Rush as guest musicians. Any small measure of popularity Max Webster enjoyed here in the U.S. around that time was likely due to that association with Rush.
Kim Mitchell launched his solo career after Max Webster broke up around 1981 and was awarded with at least three Juno Awards for his work between 1983 and 1990.
In 2004 he switched gears and decided to give radio a try and stepped in as the afternoon drive time DJ on Toronto’s Q107, although he never gave up playing music as evidenced by the release of Ain’t Life Amazing last year, his eighth studio album.
Personally, I’ve got just about all of Kim Mitchell’s music going back to the Max Webster days and I still believe the work he did with Max Webster and that he continues to do today does not attract the attention it deserves — at least hear in the U.S.
Due to the obvious restrictions involved when placing music on the web, I’ve decided the best way is probably to use the vast collection of content on YouTube to give readers a taste of the classic rockers that I believe more people should know about.
The YouTube content I choose for this series will depend heavily on the quality of the sound. I’m a notorious sound quality snob and could not bring myself to use fan-filmed footage of some concert that’s accompanied by sound that suggests to me that the event was actually recorded inside a cave somewhere. Despite how good the video quality might be.
The video below is of the professionally-produced variety like you might find on VH1 or MTV and is from Kim Mitchell’s 1989 album, Rockland.