SAGA – Pleasure & The Pain [2016 Edition Remastered +2]
earMUSIC is reissuing in a remastered & re-packaged form all SAGA albums from 1989 to 2007, one album per month (several already featured on this blog). Now it’s time for “Pleasure & The Pain 2016 Edition”, perhaps Saga’s more controversial album ever.
Due to difficulties with his personal schedule, drummer Steve Negus is missing on this album. For the recordings he was replaced by studio pro Glen Sobel (Alice Cooper, Jeff Scott Soto, among others). But there isn’t where the controversy lies.
When appeared in 1997, many hated this album because it was unfamiliar in too many ways. The sound is more rough than usual for Saga, more towards dirty riffs, so the guitars and drums are more prominent and keyboards are toned down. It has an edgy and cynical character.
Rockers like ‘Heaven Can Wait’, the groovy ‘How Do You Feel?’, the heavy ‘Welcome To The Zoo’, the Trevor Rabin-like ‘Fantastically Wrong’ or the re-make of their classic ‘You’re Not Alone’ in a modernized way still have that characteristic Saga proggy touches, but it’s on the experimental songs where the fans alienate.
‘Where’s My Money?’ is a bizarre, techno-based song with heavy processed guitars on it. But in fact, this is not even a ‘song’, but a joke. A joke asking if they still should play their trademark music or turn into a dance group to make big money.
In a similar vein, Saga adds some dance/scratching beats mixed with some of the heaviest guitar playing on the album to a cover of The Beatles’ classic ‘Taxman’, and in my opinion, it works well.
“You Were Made Me For Me” is another hard rocker. Micheal Sadler singing is given sound treatment to recall some or Roger Waters’ vocals. But the song itself is almost Aerosmith-esque in the riff department. Not quite as sexed up. But then prog rockers aren’t known for rocking the house. This one does. Kudos to Ian Crichton guitar work.
“Gonna Give It To Ya” brings back the dance club drum parts, but the rest of the song it’s some kind a combination of classic period ELO instrumentation (Eldorado era) and Styx hard rock & pop perfection (Cornerstone, Pieces of Eight). At first, I must admit the programmed rhythms were distracting. But as a whole, this tune carries me.
As bonus tracks we have two live songs recorded on their last tour, including a nice take on ‘You’re Not Alone’, this time done as the original.
Originally appeared in 1997 and one that would never have been given a decent push/promotion upon its release, “Pleasure & The Pain” is among Saga’s most unknown / unheard albums.
Perhaps due its rocking guitar orientation and experimentation die-hard fans from the classic era do not recommend this record at all, but it has many interesting things to discover.
This freshly remastered reissue provides a punchier sound, new artwork and two bonus tracks.
You’ve seen it first here, at 0dayrox
01. Heaven Can Wait
02. How Do You Feel?
03. Welcome To The Zoo
04. Where’s My Money?
05. You’re Not Alone ”97”
07. You Were Made For Me
08. Gonna Give It To Ya
09. Fantastically Wrong
10. Pleasure And The Pain
11. Time To Go (recorded 2015) [bonus track]
12. You’re Not Alone (recorded 2015) [bonus track]
Michael Sadler – vocals
Jim Crichton – bass
Ian Crichton – guitars
Jim Gilmour – keyboards, vocals
Glen Sobel – drums
BUY IT !