Saga Worlds Apart
The Canadian neo-progressive rock band’s fourth studio album was released in September 1981. It was recorded in Buckinghamshire and produced by Rupert Hine. Two of the songs on the album are part of ‘The Chapters’ which is a sixteen-song suite (but originally eight songs) that tells the story of a young Albert Einstein. The album has had several different covers over the years, but the two most well-known covers are of the old man reading the map and the young woman wearing shades (there is a galaxy shown on the left lens and a map on the right lens). It is forty-three minute and thirty-eight seconds long and contains nine songs.
The album opens with "On the Loose". It was released as a single and was one of the first videos to be shown on the early days of MTV (back when MTV showed music videos instead of reality television). I especially like the twinkling arpeggio synth sounds that run through the song and the instrumental section at about two minutes, but the vocals and drums drive the song.
"Time’s Up" lowers the tempo slightly and is probably the closest to a ballad. It was originally the fifth song on the vinyl release but second song on all re-releases. With the gated reverb on the drums, soft guitar sound and mellow vocals, I don’t think this song would sound out of place on a Phil Collins solo album.
"Wind Him Up" is a lot faster. The drums are quite simple but use a lot of sixteenth beats on the hi-hat and there is some more gated reverb on the toms towards the end. I love the driving synth stabs in regular intervals (very catchy). I also really like the guitar solo. Probably my favourite song on the album.
"Amnesia" starts with a weird voice sample before leading into sweeping synth sounds. The verses have a new wave reggae vibe like The Police and Rush while the choruses are a lot faster. I really like how the chorus repeats itself before fading the song out.
"Framed" is probably the song on the album I like least but it has a lovely guitar sound with lots of harmonics and plenty of those wonderful synth pads that colour the album.
"The Interview" has quite an epic sound to it despite being one of the shortest songs on the album. I love the scratchy guitar sounds and the simple but driving synth riff throughout the song. A song of triumph and hope. I could imagine it being used in a movie finale.
"No Regrets (Chapter Five)" is the other ballad on the album and as mentioned above, a song about Albert Einstein. With almost no drums, it is built on the synths and piano.
The instrumental "Conversations" has some wonderful soaring guitar riffs and what I call half-solos, more of that lovely twinkly piano work and some fantastic synth arpeggios to drive the song along.
"No Stranger (Chapter Eight)" is the longest song on the album at just over seven minutes. It starts off quite quiet before becoming a hard rocking song. One thing I love is the high octave piano stabs, but it also features one of the best guitar solos on the album. It finishes on a mellow piece with what sounds like classical guitar which is a lovely way to bring the album to a finish.
Like many other Saga albums, the songs are quite short on Worlds Apart. This is because they are influenced by the new wave sounds of the late 70s and early 80s, have lots of catchy melodies and a production style that is very much of the era without sounding dated. There are also a lot of progressive rock influences in the songs from bands such as Genesis, Rush and Yes and you can see where these bands would take their musical direction in the 1980s. The vocals are superb and passionate throughout the whole album and the lyrics are intelligent without being pretentious. While not an album (or even a band) that is particularly well known in much of Europe (the band are big in Germany though), this is generally considered to be Saga’s best album and certainly their most successful. It is a real shame that not enough people in the United Kingdom know about this band.