Wednesday, September 16, 2015
SAGA: "The Beginner's Guide To Throwing Shapes" (Reissue)
Label: earMUSIC 2015
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom
earMUSIC releases the SAGA reissue series, covering all studio albums from 1989 to 2007. Two of them every other month up until July 2016. All twelve albums are enhanced by exclusive live bonus tracks, newly recorded at Fabrik, Hamburg, Germany (their home away from home) in April 2015 (previously unreleased). The flashy designed booklets, including original fan material, press articles, liner notes, a sight for sore eyes.
Released in chronological order, September kicks off with The Beginner's Guide To Throwing Shapes. Originally released in 1989, it's one of only two albums which they recorded as a trio. Michael Sadler (vocals, keyboards) and the two Crichton brothers, Jim (bass, synth) and Ian (guitars, synth), the only ones still standing after Negus and Gilmour decided to bugger off in 1986 (both were to return in 92 though).
First the trio recorded 'Wildest Dreams' in '87, the effort received a massive beating in the hands of many hard core fans as they thought of it as too hi-tech and poppy? I love the album though and you could say that 'Shapes' continued to stroll down the bright eighties avenue and sound. Slightly progressive and perhaps not quite as hit friendly as the preceding 'Dreams', the catchy hi-tech sound is still present and it's just a very pleasant experience from the opening notes of 'How Do I Look' to the closing ditto of 'Giant'. The latter, one of Sadler's all-time favourite tracks on any of their albums and I quote, "For me, this song has all the elements that make up the core Saga sound, including banjo, It's all there", end quote.
The two live bonus tracks (Wind Him Up and The Flyer) sadly out of place, considering it's from two completely different albums. (Worlds Apart & Heads or Tales). I'm a sucker for the posh, but oh-so-catchy and underrated work of Shapes, and the same goes for its hi-tech production and sound. It's a product of its time and the completely remastered version works in 2015. Recommended.