SAGA – The Beginner’s Guide To Throwing Shapes [2015 Edition Remastered +2]
earMUSIC has started this month an excellent SAGA remastered reissue series within one year, covering all studio albums from the influential Canadian band 1989 – 2007. All twelve albums are enhanced by exclusive bonus tracks newly recorded 2015 – of course they’ve been never released before.
The first batch includes (apart from the awesome ‘The Security Of Illusion’ already featured here) the highly underrated 1989’s “The Beginner’s Guide To Throwing Shapes“.
“The Beginner’s Guide To Throwing Shapes” was the second Saga album without original drummer Steve Negus and longtime keyboardist / vocalist Jim Gilmour, and for first-time fans of the band this is not the real Saga.
However, I disagree: the core of Ian & Jim Crichton and Michael Sadler is still here, and the band simply evolved to the mainstream rock sound ruling the late ’80s.
While many of the trademark Saga arrangement remain intact, the presence of bombastic programmed drums, synth guitars and overall melodic rock sounds are the main motto here. And I love it; this is a true ’80s album, with a big, glossy production.
There’s lots of keyboards / synths all over the record, but tend to be used here more for texture and less for lead melodies and solos.
Ian Crichton’s guitar though is quite prominent, as he cuts through the gloss of tracks like “How Do I Look”, “Shape”, or the hi-tech “The Nineties” with his distinctive guitar solos.
I don’t know why, but “Starting All Over” always reminded me Foreigner, “Scarecrow” is a cool hard rocker, and “Waiting In The Wings” is actually a fantastic power pop / light prog tune with intricate instrumentation, one of the band’s best tunes and easily one of the highlights of the album.
The 7 minute closer “Giant” is also a strong tune, with crunchy guitar work and complex arrangements but could have used a stronger keyboard base.
A couple of nice bonus tracks are included in this “The Beginner’s Guide To Throwing Shapes 2015 Edition Remastered”; two Saga classics recently recorded.
“The Beginner’s Guide To Throwing Shapes” must be the less heard Saga album; not heard by first time fans of the band, and not heard by ’80s music aficionados.
Well, if you like early Saga, you better give this a second try; there’s a various tracks here in the vein of their classic era (just with a modern production).
And if you are fan of Eighties bombastic productions, slightly proggy melodic rock / rock&pop, and perfect instrumentation, then you need to discover “The Beginner’s Guide To Throwing Shapes”, and this completely remastered 2015 Edition (the sound is awesome, believe me) is the right way to do it.
01 – How Do I Look
02 – Starting All Over
03 – Shape
04 – Odd Man Out
05 – The Nineties
06 – Scarecrow
07 – As I Am
08 – Waiting In The Wings
09 – Giant
10 – Wind Him Up (recorded 2015)
11 – The Flyer (recorded 2015)
Michael Sadler: Vocals, Keyboards
Ian Crichton: Guitars, Synthaxe
Jim Crichton: Bass, Keyboards, Synthaxe
Curt Cress: Drums and Percussion
BUY IT !