Album review: SAGA – Generation 13/Steel Umbrellas (Reissues)

Saga - Steel Umbrellas

earMUSIC [Release date 27.11.15]

Released originally back in 1995, Generation 13 is a concept album based on a storyline by Jim Crichton inspired in part by the book ’13 GEN abort retry ignore fail’ by Neil Howe and Bill Straus. It centres around a social outcast called Sam and how he views life and how others view him.

This album saw the band move away from the previous synth/polished 80′s sounding albums of the previous few albums. The songs are interlinked by short passages of music and/or spoken word with the band members taking on various character roles. It would hold together as a soundtrack to any film made to accompany the album’s storyline as the music is very cinematic in sound and feel.

I must admit I never got into this album on its first release and time hasn’t altered that view. For me the weakest Saga album they have released, although many of the band’s fans love this album. The bonus song is a recent live recording of ‘Humble Stance’. **1/2

Steel Umbrellas was originally released in 1994 and harked back to the band’s synth led mid/late 80′s output. They cover rock in ‘Why Not’, then offer up the listener some smooth AOR in the form of ‘Say Goodbye To Holiday’.

This album does show the band’s more overtly AOR leanings, with the emphasis on slower numbers and ballads including the rather good ‘I Walk With You’. The band’s classic line-up was still intact on this one, although they utilized three backing vocalists to help expand the vocal harmonies.

The two live bonus songs are two certifiable Saga classics in ‘Wind Him Up’ and ‘The Flyer’, both recorded in April 2015.

Good to see this album back out there as like many of the band’s 90′s output it seemed to not get much coverage at all and this is one well worth hearing.  ***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

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