Tuesday, October 07, 2008

FBO: 'FBO Celebrates SAGA Week (Day 2)'

IS SAGA or RUSH CANADA'S BEST PROGRESSIVE ROCK BAND?
Host unlimited photos at slide.com for FREE!
Host unlimited photos at slide.com for FREE!

Somewhere, somehow -- and soon -- the hipster quotient is going to (re?)discover progressive rock and you'll find songs coming out in 'Chapters' in scrambled order, lyrics discussing outer space or mind control, and melodies happily nicking from Bach's cupboard. Plus they'll let it bounce along enough that the softies can dance to it.

That's where Ontario's SAGA comes in.

Despite busy song arrangements, they never take themselves too seriously on the lyric front. Rush are nice guys, but there's little irony in theirs. Saga's songs tend to deal with confusion or flawed characters. The paranoid 'Framed' from 1981's epic 'Worlds Apart', for example, included this bit: 'Midnight courtroom confusion/The sentence of guaranteed seclusion/(no more Ernie Bilko)'

Ernie Bilko?

In 'Wind Him Up,' a catchy though ultimately revelatory-less assessment of gambling as an addiction, singer Michael Sadler (born in Wales) resists a literary reference to name the lead character something of a 'modern day Tom Sawyer,' and instead gives the guy a name: ALDO. And like Queen's 1980 hit 'Another One Bites the Dust,' the lyric begins by uttering the name (Queen's #1 song famously begins with 'Steve'). It's worth noting that rival Canadian rocker ALDO NOVA whose Top 40 song 'Fantasy' was released the same year, so in a way Crichton is pre-dating Stephen Malkmus' taunting name-drop jabs at Stone Temple Pilots and Smashing Pumpkins in Pavement's 1994 classic 'Range Life.'

--> Read an interview Aldo Nova discussing work with Jon Bon Jovi here.

In between finger-furied keyboard breaks, doubled on the guitars -- while a pounding Bonham-trained drummer ignores any thoughts of breaking into 7/8 time signatures and occasional keyboard overlays that wouldn't be out of place on the 'Teacher, Teacher' soundtrack pepper the scene -- Crichton looks dead serious when he sings (or taps his temple to stress a line), but his lyrics wisely don't strive for Rush's overly lofty themes. That's a subtle art prog rock could use more of. There are occasionally some nice, unexpected details from a prog rocker more keen on musical changes: 'Aldo lights a smoke, he's shakin', from carnation right to the ground...'

Saga also pre-dates Rush by a year with a curious voice-over. In the same song, as Aldo 'leaves the table' a Cockney-accented (it seems) young woman innocently asks 'no luck today?' A year later Rush would have Neil Peart (pictured, writing lyrics) chime in 'subdivisions' during the chorus of its namesake song (guitarist Alex Lifeson only pretended to do the speak-over in the video). This is not an accident. Rush, whom we support (and actively campaign for inclusion in to the flawed Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame, was copying Ontario's Saga.

The FBO asks you to decide who the best Canadian progressive rock band is, per a poll through October 11: Rush, Saga, Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Aldo Nova. (See poll to right.)



FBO Admin
Mobile/Semi-Permanent HQ -- Brooklyn, NY

2 comments:

Trott said...

Regarding the difficult problem of identifying Canada's finest prog rockers, the poll may allow you to reach a conclusion, but you really should be reaching for something else.

THE FBO said...

This may explain the staggering number of votes Mark Hardin garnered during the Top Fan poll a few months ago...