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Asia - Asia CD (album) cover




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3.15 | 483 ratings

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TGM: Orb
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review 6, Asia, Asia, 1982 (PR)

I bought this album at the same time as my first Yes albums (CTTE and The Yes Album), knowing only that it had Palmer on the drums, and without that many expectations. Both those buys proved excellent, though the differences couldn't be more extreme: on the one hand, you have the layered sounds, cosmic themes and build-up of Yes, and on the other, the short, catchy tunes, clean and fluid music and amazing plain rock of Asia. I think a lot of prog-men expected a Yes II with a couple of Crimson elements to emerge from the supergroup, but I think this end result should satisfy anyone (excluding those more given to the classical or jazz elements of prog) who approaches it with an open mind.

From the first chords of Heat Of The Moment, right through to the fade, the group's musicianship and dynamic (something not, it would seem, to extend through to their next album) is obvious. Palmer's drumming is superb, the short instrumental parts are fantastic, the vocal harmonies are great, the lyrics may not (a theme to the album) be the best you've ever heard, but they suit the music, and the end result has grown on me with each listen.

Only Time Will Tell is a beast of a different nature: much darker, beginning with a keyboard riff and continuing with a couple of different moods expressed by excellent music. Wetton's vocals support this, and the drum crescendos are extremely powerful. As strong as the opener, though it takes more getting used to.

The bass-and-drum introduction of Sole Survivor signals the start of yet another great rock song, this time going to complete nonsense lyrics, but with energy and style and enough small variations to keep me interested.

One Step Closer has a decent opening, but the continuation (especially the chorus) is a little too pop-based for me, and the lyrics (appalling. Really appalling) don't alleviate that. The tune and components (lyrics/vocals excepted) aren't that bad, but the end result does nothing for me.

Time Again is perhaps the fastest of the album's songs, very energetic, and with stronger lyrics ('Fate looks certain, but then nothing's guaranteed/You want for nothing, but is nothing what you need?') than the rest of the album. Howe's guitar solo here is perfect, and the drumming is Carl Palmer at his finest, and the bass is very strong, and the keyboards fit in very nicely.

Wildest Dreams is the closest thing to prog rock on this album. It's a protest song with mind-blowing verses, but instrumental sections and choruses that don't (for me) reach the level of those on the rest of the album (not quite sure why, but occasionally it seems over-indulgent or overblown in a way that the rest of the album doesn't). Still an excellent song

Without You is as highly rated by me as any of the huge progressive epics that are so loudly trumpeted around PA. The lyrics are strong, the moody keyboard opening and vocals are haunting and echoey, and the composition can take a complete turn when you least expect it. The entire song is absolutely perfect: a great combination of emotion and technical skill.

Cutting It Fine has its moments, one of Howe's catchiest melodies, a superb opening and an emotive instrumental close (mainly piano), although the lyrics aren't anything exceptional. The energy is infectious, and Downes' tasteful additions to the guitar-bass-drums dominated song proper give it enough material to be replayable.

Here Comes The Feeling is the optimistic end to the album, uplifting and genuine verses, and the chorus is less annoying than One Step Closer, with stronger melodies and particularly strong keyboard and bass parts. A great closer, with a very abrupt end.

Asia's debut, in my opinion, is superb - an amazing rock album with a couple of irritating pop moments. Unfortunately, it seems to suffer ridiculous over-reactions (1 star?!) based on what the band could have been, and a refusal to actually engage with the music individually. Highly recommended, but it seems that the experience of this album differs from person to person.

Rating: Four Stars (Five, but I'm not awarding masterpiece ratings to PR or proto-prog albums)

Favourite Track: Without You

TGM: Orb | 4/5 |


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