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Asia - Asia CD (album) cover




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3.15 | 483 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars ASIA's first line-up was really a prog-rock fan's dream. After all, it combined members of arguably three of the five biggest bands: Palmer from ELP, Howe from YES and Wetton who was part of KING CRIMSON. All that was missing for it to be the ultimate perfect super-group was a member of GENESIS and another of PINK FLOYD. Downes, who filled the fourth spot, had also played with YES before, and his credentials were on the rise. Therefore, what could really stop this album from being anything else but marvelous?

Obviously, a lot of things, but most likely, the actual decision by the band members to evade the "progressive" factor of each of their major bands. We were in a time when "prog" was not as "cool" anymore, and never is that more evident than in ASIA's "Asia", a debut album that should've been a masterpiece of epic proportions, and ended up being just a good collection of rock tunes.

All the songs are quite OK in "Asia", but none really stands out. The best ones are probably "Time will Tell", the catchiest one, and "Here Comes the Feeling", probably the most progressive one if only for a few minor instrumental details. Other than these two, the tracks are all very similar, played in similar tempos, with similar structures, and with almost zero experimentation or any hint of "progressiveness".

The musicianship is good, but for the names, quite below average. Howe doesn't shine like he did in practically every YES album he ever played on, with mediocre solos and just a few interesting melodies. Palmer is just another drummer here in ASIA, and only once do we hear him trying to steal the spotlight with a chain of drum fills that fail to impress anyway. Wetton does a great job singing, and his bass, while simple, is efficient and at times even elegant. Downes adds some very nice touches on the keyboards, even though I'm quite sure most people that dislike this album will mention his 80's- sounding synths as part of the problem.

In hindsight, we can say that ASIA's attitude towards their music was pretty understandable and that their music, while not brilliant, is enjoyable and harmless. But I can imagine how some prog-rock fans felt when a band made of Palmer, Howe, Wetton and Downes released a disc full of radio-ready pop- rock tunes. The progressive factor is minimum in "Asia", but that shouldn't make me give the album less than it deserves. 2.5 stars for the entertainment factor which I will round up to 3, as I think the record has been criticized more harshly than it deserves.

Anyway, it's a mcuh better album than my first ASIA experience, the more-recent but quite terrible "Aura."

The T | 3/5 |


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