SAVATAGE - Cryptic Writings?
by Tim Henderson

Three-fifths of the current Savatage line-up entertained the international press today (November 5th), to hear seven tracks from the long overdue Poets & Madmen release, and speak in nebulous terms about the two line-up vacancies (most recently, singer Zachary Stevens who has decided to pursue other career options and has also expressed desire to spend time with his family and new baby daughter) and mysterious concept surrounding the still unfinished disc. Chris Caffery (guitar) and producer/lyricist/co-songwriter Paul O'Neill were busy fielding questions from other journalists, as BW&BK talked with bassist Johnny Lee Middleton.

Although destined to be part of the new album, 'Do You See, Commisar,' 'I Seek Power,' 'Drive,' 'Cantations,' which Middleton proclaimed "Our 'Inna Godda Divita,'" 'Surrender,' 'Man In The Mirror' and 'Got To Get Back To A Reason' (most of which begin with piano introductions) the bass player can't relate precisely how many tracks will be in the final running order!

"At this point, we still don't know," admits the lanky blond. "There's one that's unfinished and we're running out of CD space, so one may have to go. We've got to squeeze ten pounds of shit into a five-pound bag. We don't know which one to cut. That's a problem. You guys got a little potpourri, like the pu-pu platter at a Chinese restaurant. You didn't hear the heaviest track, nor the lightest, just a mixed bag. There is pure ballad, but again, I don't know if it will make it. We came in with about 30 tunes."

Initially, Poets & Madmen was supposed to veer away from Savatage's fascination with storylines and concept records, but ultimately it will be thematically linked, although the purposefully obtuse Middleton offered little in the way of an explanation, despite a verbose response.

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