One Track Mind: Saga, “On the Loose” from Spin It Again!: Live in Munich (2013)

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As “On the Loose” lifts off — first with the insectile thrill of Jim Gilmour’s keyboards, then with a full-throated roar from Michael Sadler — Saga’s new live set all but sells itself.

Yes, this track still boasts every bit of the testosterone-fueled gumption of their original reading, which hit No. 26 on the Billboard charts in 1981 to become Saga’s biggest song ever. Of course, Eagle Rock’s Spin It Again!: Live in Munich, over the course of two energetic discs from the final night of a 2012 tour, goes well beyond this moment in time — bringing in songs from their then-new return-to-form comeback effort 20/20 (head straight to “Six Feet Under” and the title track here) as well as select older favorites like “Wind Him Up” and “Scratching The Surface.” But this is the moment most people will judge everything by, the Saga utterly delivers.

Still, listening to Sadler, it’s easy to believe it when he sings — amid a roaring German crowd — that nothing could stop Saga. That’s not the way it turned out, of course. “The Flyer,” a follow-up single also featured on this new CD and film, went no higher than No. 79 in 1983 — becoming Saga’s last Billboard-charting track. Saga remained popular in their native Canada, but were relegated to the ranks of one-hit wonderdom in America. Sadler left for a time, replaced by Rob Moratti from 2008–11. “On the Loose”-era drummer Steve Negus departed in 1986, returned in 1992 but was gone again in 2003.

But the sadly overlooked Saga has been completely rejuvenated with Sadler’s return, issuing that impressive studio reunion disc in 2012, followed by a career-spanning tour and this triumphal stop in Germany, where 20/20 had shot into the Top 10. Mike Thorne is at the kit now, with Jim Crichton on bass and Ian Crichton (who’ll Asia fans will remember from his interim work on the band’s 2001 album Aura) still holding down the guitar chair.

Buy Spin It Again!: Live in Munich for “On the Loose,” but keep it for the rest. There’s still a lot to explore from Saga.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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