SAGA – Steel Umbrellas [2015 Edition Remastered +2]
earMUSIC releases an excellent SAGA remastered reissue series within one year (one per month), covering all studio albums from 1989 – 2007. All twelve albums are enhanced by exclusive bonus tracks, newly recorded at Fabrik, Hamburg in April 2015 – of course they’ve been never released before.
The criminally underrated “Steel Umbrellas” is one of the second round of the SAGA Reissue Series and is best known for featuring a more commercial side of the band.
For this re-release, the album was completely remastered 2015, while the tracklist is completed by two additional bonus tracks.
After the great album The Security Of Illusion (remastered 2015 version already featured here), SAGA released this “Steel Umbrellas” in 1994, and it was some kind of a shock because most the songs are pure ’80 rock&pop / AOR oriented.
SAGA not only abandon their trademark proggy melodic rock here, but also was a brave move to present a new album like this in 1994 in the crest of the grunge movement dominating the charts. But SAGA don’t care about Billboard or trends…
Well, occurs this material was originally composed as a soundtrack for a TV series called ‘Cobra’, which needed an ’80s feel. Mixed by Mike Ging (Toto, Michael Jackson, Nazareth) in L.A., “Steel Umbrellas” takes you straight back to a pure glossy Eighties sound. Production is huge, bombastic.
However, opener “Why Not” is a great rocking tune in all SAGA’s tradition, with the typical melodies from the band and you can catch some groovy atmospheres which gives room to breathe for the wonderful guitar lines of Ian Crichton.
But since track 2 “(You Were) Never Alone”, this is a true melodic, punchy rock&pop / lite AOR ’80s album with keyboards / synth stabs, sharp rhythm guitars, exotic electronic drums and catchy choruses. I love in this track the jumpin’ guitar work that takes you back to the Miami Vice years! Killer track.
The band’s classic line-up was still intact on this album, although they utilized three backing vocalists to help expand the vocal harmonies.
“Shake that Tree” has Jim Gilmour on vocals. It’s a groovy midtempo track with the guitar parts mixed to the background, pumping bass lines and a cool female background choir. Underneath the smooth production you can hear all the elements of Saga trademarks and I always liked the voice of Jim for a couple of songs.
Then “Password Pirate” is a Rock&pop track which is totally unlike Saga; interesting to hear how the band takes a completely different course and manages to lay down some fashionable sparkling melodies. You have a very dynamic, funky number in “Steamroller”, upbeat and fun, showing another interesting side of SAGA.
There’s also great AOR ballads in “I Walk With You” and “Say Goodbye To Hollywood”, both build over elegant melodies, smooth production and fine choruses with nice backing vocal harmonies.
The two live bonus songs are two certifiable SAGA classics in ‘Wind Him Up’ and ‘The Flyer’, both recorded in April 2015.
Overall, “Steel Umbrellas” definitely features a softer, poppy melodic SAGA side than its preceding albums but doesn’t neglect the signature SAGA sound.
You can tell this is a soundtrack for an ’80s inspired TV series / movie, and if you ask me, I love it!
If you are fan of Eighties bombastic productions, catchy melodies and perfect instrumentation, then you need to discover “Steel Umbrellas”, and this completely remastered 2015 Edition (the sound is great) is the right way to do it.
’80s fans, this is Highly Recommended.
You’ve seen it first here, at 0dayrox
01 – Why Not
02 – (You Were) Never Alone
03 – Bet On This
04 – Shake That Tree
05 – Password Pirate – Access Code – Password Pirate
06 – I Walk With You
07 – Push It
08 – Steamroller
09 – Say Goodbye To Hollywood
10 – Feed The Fire
11 – I Walk With You
12 – On My Way (recorded 2015)
13 – On The Loose (recorded 2015)
Michael Sadler – vocals
Ian Crichton – guitars
Jim Gilmour – keyboards, vocals
Jim Crichton – bass
Steve Negus – drums, percussion
Paula Mattioli, Fred White, Stu Saddoris – backing vocals
BUY IT !