The SAGA Continues
GOLDMINE|April 2021
SAGA WERE NOT THE ONLY band to make an album during the pandemic — far from it.
HOWARD WHITMAN

The long-running Canadian progressive rock band (formed in 1977) were one of many groups that have used their time off the road to create new recordings. But for their made-in-lockdown album, Symmetry, Saga have chosen to do something special: new versions of classic songs from older albums, rearranged for acoustic instruments, played with guest musicians, and introducing new feels (even a touch of bluegrass?) into the band’s stately, majestic prog-rock epics.

“For the most part, it’s not just taking our old songs and playing unplugged versions of them,” Saga vocalist Michael Sadler told Goldmine. “We actually reimagined them as new arrangements. In some cases there are brand-new melody lines, because you have to make adjustments when breaking a song down, especially with all of the keyboards and the kind of guitar that (guitarist) Ian (Crichton) plays. If you break that down to a smaller, more intimate setting, a lot of things don’t translate.”

Reimaginging their songs for Symmetry necessitated, in some cases, rebuilding them from the ground up. Sadler recalled not just adjusting vocal keys, but also, in the case of “Wind Him Up,” changing the lyric to make it current. He even developed some new vocal melodies.

“It was a great challenge,” Sadler said. But the band didn’t want to let fans down by just putting out a rote regurgitation of old songs. “That’s not what this record is, and that’s what I hope people realize, because you have to hear it to actually get it, what we’re trying to do with it.”

The new album had its origins during what Sadler referred to as the band’s 2017 “sort-of farewell to the road tour. We never said we were packing it in, but we were going to put on the brakes on touring, at least for the immediate future.”

On this tour, the band served as their own opening act. “We had a backdrop that was not dissimilar to the cover of Symmetry,” Sadler recalled, “and we had acoustic instruments set up in front of it. We came out as a band called Pockets, which was the very first name the band ever had, before we released our first album. So we took on this persona of playing certain Saga tracks stripped-down. It was born then, with the hopes of perhaps getting those live recordings onto an album.”

While a planned live album from that tour didn’t materialize, the events of last year prompted a revisiting of the idea. “When things came to a halt on the last tour at the beginning of 2020, that afforded us the opportunity to go, ‘Let’s do this record, but let’s do it right. Let’s make it something special as opposed to just acoustic renditions.’ So that’s where it was born, and then with the lockdowns, it was a perfect opportunity,” Sadler said.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM GOLDMINEView All

THE GRAND POOBAH!

SINCE THEIR INCARNATION in the early 1970s, the band Poobah have recorded over a dozen albums with various lineups, while openi ng for some of rock and roll’s biggest names.

9 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

THE MAKING OF PEARL

JANIS JOPLIN IN 1970: A NEW B AND AND THE MAKING OF HER CLASSIC ALBUM, PEARL.

9 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

There Must Have Been Something in the Water

If The Beatles never happened, if the British invasion never occurred, then music fans around the world would more than likely never have been exposed to some of the finest white blues singers that the U.K. produced between 1964 and 1970.

8 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

The SAGA Continues

SAGA WERE NOT THE ONLY band to make an album during the pandemic — far from it.

9 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

Ten Years After MORE THAN 50 YEARS LATER

DRUMMER RIC LEE TALKS TO GOLDMINE ABOUT A TEN YEARS AFTER DELUXE EDITION OF THE A STING IN THE TALE ALBUM AND HIS RECENTLY RELEASED MEMOIR, FROM HEADSTOCKS TO WOODSTOCK.

10+ mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

SUZI QUATRO IS BACK!

WITH A NEW ALBUM, THE DEVIL IN ME, THIS PIONEERING FEMALE ROCKER REMAINS AS DRIVEN AND DETERMINED AS EVER

8 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

RE-SHAKE & RE-MAKE

WITH THE RERELEASE OF THEIR DEBUT ALBUM, SHAKE YOUR MONEY MAKER, THE BLACK CROWES FLY HIGH BY REFLECTING ON THEIR ROOTS.

10+ mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

LOVE FOR PEARL

2021 will be a big year for fans of Janis Joplin. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland is curating a special exhibit devoted to her that is scheduled to open in May.

7 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

Q&A WITH JANIS' SIBLINGS, LAURA AND MICHAEL JOPLIN

Q&A WITH JANIS’ SIBLINGS, LAURA AND MICHAEL JOPLIN

4 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

CHERISHING CITY TO CITY A timeless classic by GERRY RAFFERTY

It’s early 1978 and the new single by Scottish singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty, “Baker Street,” is blasting out on the airwaves on my small transistor radio.

10+ mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021
RELATED STORIES

Big Wreck, Version 7.1

IAN THORNLEY TALKS 7.1, THE FIRST OF A TRIO OF NEW EPs, PLUS SUHR GEAR, THE BAND’S NEW RHYTHM GUITARIST AND THE CONSTANT STRUGGLE TO KEEP STUFF SIMPLE

6 mins read
Guitar World
June 2022

Sweet Bliss

Indulge in Hawai’ian healing arts to truly relax at Spa Without Walls.

4 mins read
Global Traveler
December 2021

Colorful Uniqueness – Ian Ross Pettigrew

I'm a Graphic Designer who happens to take photos. Over 25 years as an Art Director makes a difference in my work. Of course, you can learn technical skills as a photographer, but having a great eye is what really matters.

3 mins read
Lens Magazine
August 2021

THE HIGH PRIEST OF CRYPTOPIA REGRETS NOTHING

Ian Freeman could have been a bitcoin billionaire. Instead, he built a renegade society in a small New Hampshire town—and could go to prison for the rest of his life.

10+ mins read
New York magazine
August 30 - September 12, 2021

DEAD HEAD

The Walking Dead franchise’s big boss, Scott M. Gimple, on everything from the upcoming Rick Grimes films to the episode he keeps rewatching

4 mins read
TV Guide Magazine
The Walking Dead: The Ultimate Survivor’s Guide

Chapelwaite

SERIES PREMIERE Sunday, Aug. 22, 10/9c, Epix

2 mins read
TV Guide Magazine
August 16-29, 2021 - Double Issue

BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD

Battle in TOTAL WAR: WARHAMMER III isn’t just about winning or losing—it’s a fight for survival

10 mins read
PC Gamer US Edition
September 2021

WATER WATER EVERYWHERE

HOW TO STOW, CONSERVE OR GENERATE DRINKING WATER IS KEY FOR ANY OFFSHORE SAILOR. TOBY HODGES SURVEYED THE 81 SKIPPERS OF THE ARC 2020 FLEET FOR TIPS

10+ mins read
Yachting World
June 2021

UNDER THE WEATHER

THE FACTORS THAT CAUSE CLIMATE CHANGE ALSO MAKE US SICK.FIGHTING IT CAN SAVE MILLIONS OF LIVES

3 mins read
The BOSS Magazine
April 2021

BIRTHDAY BUOY

GH’s Maurice Benard (Sonny) Marks His Birthday With A Special Gift For His Fans

6 mins read
Soap Opera Digest
March 08, 2021