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Asia - Live in Buffalo  CD (album) cover

LIVE IN BUFFALO

Asia

 

Prog Related

2.12 | 5 ratings

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Squire Jaco
2 stars I always wanted Asia to be a great band - it had my favorite guitar player (Steve Howe), a top-shelf drummer (Carl Palmer), and a proven bass player/vocalist who was up to the task (John Wetton). But there was always a bit too much "pop", simplicity and repetition in their music to totally engage me. Hey, progressive rock is mostly about "different", complexity and change, right? Asia was a progressive-pop band (akin to the later albums of Todd Rundgren's Utopia) that made good music, but didn't really pioneer much of anything.

Same with this CD. There's little here that's new or better than the studio versions of the songs. Palmer's long drum solo got boring after a while. Steve's acoustic solos can be found on other Yes recordings, and done much better there - here, the recording quality is so bad that it sounds like he's playing tuned rubber bands at times. (Honestly, I remember hearing better fidelity from my old Kenner Close'n'Play!) O.K., it WAS cool to hear Steve express his pleasure at playing in Buffalo again! But the so-called "keyboard solo" by Geoff Downs was underwhelming to say the least, and reinforced my suspicion that he was sort of the weak link in this group of otherwise great prog virtuosos.

I guess if one loves a band too much, they can blindly overlook some shortcomings on almost any CD by that band, and that's just fine for those people. However, the OBJECTIVE reality of this CD's value comes creeping in on many other's existing reviews: namely, the production quality is sub-par (to the point of being annoying at times); the vocals and harmonies are often off-key (you really shouldn't have to wince this much during 79 minutes of music!); this is clearly a single disk album that was issued on 2 disks for some reason; the packaging and liner notes are scant; and the performance just doesn't add much to the studio versions. This is for Asia completists only.

Asia did make a solid 5-star progressive-pop CD with their first studio album. I love it. But they never improved upon it, and never stretched out into new territory. Perhaps this 1982 live recording exposes some of the weaknesses that kept this potential supergroup from going from "good" to "great".

Squire Jaco | 2/5 |

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