Asia
Asia


3.5
great

Review

by e210013 USER (107 Reviews)
February 11th, 2019 | 26 replies


Release Date: 1982 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This is a very accessible prog album. It’s one of the best and most typical prog albums in the 80’s.

“Asia” is the eponymous debut studio album of Asia and was released in 1982. The line up on the album is John Wetton, Steve Howe, Geoff Downes and Carl Palmer.


Asia is a prog band formed in 1981. It became a super group formed by four members that came from different prog rock bands of the 70’s. Wetton came from U.K. (previously from King Crimson), Howe came from Yes, Downes came from Yes (previously from The Buggles) and Palmer from Emerson, Lake & Palmer (previously from Atomic Rooster).

As many of we know, the 80’s were very difficult times for progressive rock music. Some bands disbanded like Gentle Giant and Van Der Graaf Generator, some nearly died like Yes and Kansas and others changed direction and became major pop acts like Genesis. But despite the decline of the interest for progressive rock music some artists, with progressive roots, managed to form new progressive rock bands. Maybe the best example of these bands was Asia.

And now a little bit of history. Downes and Trevor Horn, from The Buggles, joined forces with Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White, to replace Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman on Yes. The result was “Drama” and a world tour. But, soon became evident that Yes’ faithful fans would not accept Horn as a replacement for Anderson, and then Yes dissolved for a while. Coincidently, U.K. has dissolved too. Originally U.K. was a quartet formed by Wetton, Eddie Jobson, Alan Holdsworth and Bill Bruford. But after U.K.’s debut studio album, Bruford and Holdsworth leave U.K. The two remaining members brought in the drummer Terry Bozzio and U.K. continued as a trio and released a second studio album. However, due to internal difficulties between Wetton and Jobson, U.K. disbanded too. Meanwhile, after the big failure of their album “Love Beach”, Emerson, Lake & Palmer decided to disbanded. It was in this context that was formed Asia.

“Asia” is a good pop/rock album. However, it doesn’t bring you lengthy progressive songs. Still, does show a tight playing band with a very own sound. This sound is the result of the solid rhythm section, the effective sound and melody lines of Downes and the interesting guitar solos of Howe. Combined with catchy melodies, the right ingredients were here. The album features some real nice songs with easy listening. Still, the sound of the band is rough edged but, the music is very accessible. Out of its nine songs, not a single one is unmemorable and unelaborated. Even the most sentimental stuff is normally served under a tough rockin’ sound, with occasionally unexpected musical transitions and great drum work from Palmer. If you do have to have an overwrought, bombastic lead singer and can’t get Greg Lake, you can’t go wrong with Wetton. His voice is very powerful. So, he doesn’t need to strain it, and at the same time he’s got this nice tendency not to over dramatize things, which is great considering how most of the lyrics are just generic.

About the tracks, the opening track “Heat Of The Moment” is its biggest hit. It reached #1 on the pop charts. “Only Time Will Tell”, despite was composed by Downes and Wetton, the mocking guitar of Howe throughout makes this a real centrepiece for the album. “Sole Survivor” displays a definite 80’s sound, but with an interesting build in the beginning and a nice keyboard solo during the middle part. “One Step Closer” contains a good beginning which is a hybrid between the Yes and Kansas sound. This song is a true showcase on the album. “Time Again” is very energetic. Howe’s guitar solo here is perfect, Palmer’s drumming is great, the bass is very strong and the keyboards are nice. But, if there is any place on “Asia” where a hardcore prog rock fan can find some solace, it’s on the second side. “Wildest Dreams” contains some abrupt changes between verse and choruses and provides an extensive drum showcase for Palmer. “Without You” is a pleasant ballad, mellow throughout with interesting, moody parts. “Cutting It Fine” is the most interesting here with an acoustic beginning and an extensive piano instrumental by Downes in the coda. “Here Comes The Feeling” is a song with a strong melody and is a nice closer that ends the album with an optimistic way.


Conclusion: Whether we like it or not, the debut eponymous studio album of Asia was a very successful album in the 80’s. It contains their biggest hit “Heat Of The Moment”, which reached #4 in both the Canadian Singles chart and on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. However, for progressive rock fans it was, somehow, a deception. With so four talented progressive rock artists, which are responsible for some of the most important and brilliant pages in progressive rock music, we progressive rock fans, expected much more. However, we mustn’t forget that the 80’s were very difficult times for progressive rock music. In those times there was no more space for lengthy compositions and big conceptual albums, so usual and loved in the 70’s. However, “Asia” remains a great testament of the progressive rock music in the 80’s. That said though, it’s a fine album, which most aficionados of progressive rock music will probably enjoy a bit.


Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)



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Comments:Add a Comment 
e210013
February 11th 2019


2180 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

After Flash from Peter Banks, it's now the time of Steve Howe. Howe is, par excellence, as we all know, the main guitarist of Yes. When we talk about Yes, the name of Howe come soon to our mind. And that happens not only due to his skills as a performer but also because his great capabilities as a composer. In my opinion, he is the main responsible, with Jon Anderson, for some of the best pages written by Yes.

But, Howe was also responsible for some other things besides Yes. Is this the case of Asia. He was one of the founder members of the most famous prog super group formed in the 80's. So, I decided to chose the project of Asia, their debut album, as a representant of Howe, in my journey throgh the world of Yes.

I hope you enjoy it. Your comments are welcome, as usual.

bgillesp
February 11th 2019


6597 Comments


Nice read. Been meaning to get my hands on this to check it out. You gonna do a GTR review soon?

Digging: Grateful Dead - Anthem of the Sun

e210013
February 11th 2019


2180 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks, bgillesp. Do that my friend.

"You gonna do a GTR review soon?"

Actually it will my next review to complete my path about Howe through the world of Yes. What a coincidence, isn't it? Lol.

TwigTW
February 11th 2019


3635 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I enjoy this album, not for the prog, but for the pop-rock. It does sound like a natural progression in sound following 90210 and Big Generator. It must have been an incredible time to be Steve Howe. Everything he touched turned to gold. Asia is something of a joke now, but when this album was released they were as big as Yes--maybe bigger!

TwigTW
February 11th 2019


3635 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"And now you find yourself in '82, The disco hot spots hold no charm for you"



'82 and disco... wow, this was a long time ago.

e210013
February 11th 2019


2180 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah Twig, you're right. When the album was released they were as big as Yes or even maybe bigger, especially in terms of commercial success. Those were the times of pop and disco music, indeed. And those were times, somehow, with a certain charme, really. At least I think, in terms of pop, the pop of those days was better than the pop in our days, in general.

So, in general, those were interesting times for the music, with the exception of prog, of course.

bigguytoo9
February 11th 2019


547 Comments


SOOOOOOOOOOOOLE SURVIVOR!!!!

e210013
February 11th 2019


2180 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"SOOOOOOOOOOOOLE SURVIVOR!!!!"

Absolutely. Thanks for your participation on my review.

Divaman
February 11th 2019


3316 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've always loved this album. When it came out, I thought this would be the band to pick up the mantle of prog rock through the 80s. Unfortunately, from the albums of theirs I heard after this, they never really lived up to the potential I thought this album showed. I have been promising myself to check out some more of their back catalog, though. Anyway, good choice, and nice review.

Digging: Rachael Sage - Choreographic

e210013
February 11th 2019


2180 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah Diva, I think you're right. The band was never able really lived up the all potential they had. And I also think they never were able to made an album with the same quality of this one. Maybe the problem was the constant changes in their line up. Anyway, for me this is really a very good album, despite I expected more from these musicians, really.

Thanks, pal.

Jethro42
February 11th 2019


15608 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I bought this album when it came out because of the lineup, the cover art and hit airplays. After one listen, I came to the conclusion that the good old prog of the 70s would never come back again, but I liked very much what I've heard. All like Divaman, I was hoping for something still more proggish that would follow it. It was not the case as we know it, and desilusioned about the 80s, I decided to focus on jazz music instead, jazz fusion in particular, mixed with 70s prog of course.

Don't get me wrong, the 80s got great bands as shown into these lists;

https://www.sputnikmusic.com/list.php?listid=73137&memberid=429519

https://www.sputnikmusic.com/list.php?memberid=280733&listid=54801

In the 80s, Marillion was a pleasant surprise in Progland, but all their neo-prog contemporaries never touched them. Luckily, since the 90s, there is a serious revival in prog, and this time, it sometimes rivalize with classic 70s prog, and unlike the 80's, no needs anymore to inject a pop flavour, and since the 90s, there is a lot of pure prog to discover.

Good review, buddy.

Sabrutin
February 11th 2019


5946 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Pos. As I love Wetton's voice, I can't really hate on Asia. Well, the albums with him at least (Asia, Alpha, Astra, Phoenix, Omega, XXX, Gravitas)... the stuff with Payne makes me shudder a bit (except for the underrated Silent Nation). My favorite Asia is XXX, I actually find it very nice. This is 2nd place for me.



"https://www.sputnikmusic.com/list.php?listid=73137&memberid=429519



https://www.sputnikmusic.com/list.php?memberid=280733&listid=54801"

Dude! You guys both choose their least proggy album of the 80s, and you very well know which band I'm talking of! ahahah

BenThatsMyJamin
February 11th 2019


2350 Comments


Cool album art, reminds me of pokemon

Saros
February 11th 2019


206 Comments


John Wetton being in this still amazes me. If you told me the same guy who sang Starless also did Heat of the Moment, I would've thought you were joking.

e210013
February 12th 2019


2180 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@ Jethro

I absolutely agree with you bro. Still, I became a bit more disappointed than you are with this release. Despite I understand the why, I continue thinking that they could do a better thing, despite the time when it was released. This time I win. I was a bit more hard with them that you, in terms of rating. Lol.

But I also agree that there was great music made in the 80's, in terms of prog, especially the music relesded by the called neo-prog bands, with Marillion in the head of all. However, as I said before, the 80's had also some great music moments, especially in terms of pop, perhaps the best pop moments ever.

And again you're right, the 90's brought to us some incredibly good works made by some incredible bands. Those years represented the reborn of prog with all its main carachteristics.

God save prog. Prog is our God in terms of music, which preval, fortunatelly, even in our days.

So, thanks bro. It's always a pleasure to talk with you and see your point of view. And as usual, your opinion is not very far of mine, really.

And thanks for the pos, too.

e210013
February 12th 2019


2180 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@ Sab

"As I love Wetton's voice, I can't really hate on Asia."

It's the same with me my friend. I also can't hate Asia due to Wetton, besides the other guys on this debut release. I always loved Wetton's voice, besides his very own bass style. Wetton is simply, for me, one of my favourite musicians in the 70's. The man participated in some of my favourite prog projects created in those years.

About my favourite albums of Asia, I haven't a true oppinion. I'm not very acquainted with their discogarphy. When I have some more free time, , but I don´t know when, really, I intend to check some more albums of them.

Thanks for the participation and pos, my friend.

e210013
February 12th 2019


2180 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@ Ben

"Cool album art, reminds me of pokemon"

I never thought that, Ben. Still, nice thought, really.

e210013
February 12th 2019


2180 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@ Saros

"John Wetton being in this still amazes me. If you told me the same guy who sang Starless also did Heat of the Moment, I would've thought you were joking."

But you can believe it. The guy participated in so many music projects that you can't mentioned all, in some few lines, and many of them are very diversified. As I read once: "John Wetton was a man who has been in more bands than most of us have had hot dinners". Lol.

Thanks for your comment and participation on my review.

Sabrutin
February 12th 2019


5946 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I also love how his voice got more and more warm and charismatic with age, it's such a shame that he left us now. If you want an idea of their late stuff, here are a few song suggestions off the top of my head: Tomorrow the World, Ghost of a Chance, Holy War, Parallel Worlds (their proggier song?) and I'll also add Long Way From Home with Payne on vocals (and Govan on guitar).

e210013
February 13th 2019


2180 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks Sab. RIP John. We will never forget you.



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