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GOLD

Asia

 

Prog Related

3.77 | 13 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Guillermo
Prog Reviewer
4 stars As I bought years ago the three first ASIA`s albums ("Asia" in the LP format in June 1982 and in the CD format in September 1993; "Alpha" in the cassette format in late 1992, and in the CD format in mid 1998; "Astra" in the cassette format in late 1986), I didn`t see a good reason to buy this "Gold" 2-CD set, but I finally bought it one week ago, at a very good price: 2 CDs for less of the price of one, with all the tracks from these three albums included, plus 4 songs from the "Now and Then" compilation album from 1990, and 3 tracks which originally were released as B-sides of singles taken from their first two albums.

This "Gold" compilation has all the tracks remastered, and all these tracks are all the tracks that ASIA released in the Geffen label between 1982 and 1990. Three and a half albums included in two CDs at a very good price. And I wasn`t disappointed. Yes, it is true that all the tracks are slightly faded out a few seconds before in comparison to the tracks which appeared in their original lenght in the original albums, but it doesn`t matter, because the fade-ous were done very well. The sound of all the tracks is very good, much better than in the original CD releases.

The tracks from the "Asia" album in these new remasters made me listen to sounds which I never heard before in clarity, for example, several acoustic and electric guitars, and even the sound of a drumstick "out of place" in one song! The track recorded during the same sessions, "Ride Easy", which was released as the B-side of the "Heat of the Moment" single, is a very good song, composed by Wetton and Howe, a song which until now I never have listened before in the original arrangement. I slightly prefer the acoustic arrangement of this song which they included in their "Fantasia" live album and DVD in 2007. Their first album from 1982 is their best in my opinion, so now with the inclusion of "Ride Easy" the release of this album sounds better.

The tracks from the "Alpha" album, are in my opinion the most improved in sound due to the remastering in comparison to the original CD, which really has a poor sound, even in comparison to the original cassette release! The cassette release had the bonus of one track, called "Daylight", which appeared as the B-side of the "Don`t Cry" single. "Daylight" (also included in "Gold") was better as a song in comparison to some of the songs which originally appeared in the album. The same happens with the other song previously released as the B-side of the "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes", called "Lyin`to Yourself" (composed by Wetton / Howe). In this song, Howe plays very good guitars. I don`t know why it was only released as a B-side, but the politics in ASIAīs management and record label underrated Howe`s songwriting qualities in 1983. This led the band to several conflicts between the members which finally finished with Howe being fired from the band, a mistake that marked the less success of their next album. The band never was the same without Howe (and also years later without Wetton and Palmer).

The tracks from the "Astra" album also sound better, but the production of this particular album sounds a bit dated, full of reverberations (even more than in the "Alpha" album, which suffers also a bit from this), and very eighties in style and sound . In this album, the main instruments are the keyboards, and Geoff Downes demonstrated more in this album than in the previous two from the band, that he is a very good keyboard player, very much influenced by Pop Rock and less by Prog Rock. The songs became even more Pop Rock in sound. Most of are good songs, but the band lost some of their original sound without Howe`s guitars and songwriting. New guitarist Mandy Meyer`s playing style was very different from Howe`s, playing mostly in the Hard Rock-Heavy Metal style. He is a good guitarist, but his playing has a secondary role in most of the songs from "Astra". This album is very much in the same sound as others from the mid eighties, with Peter Cetera`s "Solitude / Solitaire" and ELO`s "Balance of Power" being other two very characteristic albums from those years, with the use of electronic drums and very eighties synth sounds. In Howe`s official website he was asked why he left the band, and he said that he was fired, but that he also was asked months later to record guitars for this album, but he declined the invitation. So Mandy Meyer became the new guitarist. The band never toured to promote "Astra" because the album wasn`t as successful as their previous two.albums, and the band split.

From the tracks which were originally released as "New Tracks" in the "Then and Now" compilation (which I previously recorded on a cassette from a Radio broadcast in 1992): - "Am I in Love?" was an outake from the "Astra" album. It is a ballad similar to some balllads included in some GENESIS` s and PHIL COLLINS`s albums and in albums from other bands or soloists from the same period. Meyer`s guitar only appears briefly in this song. - "Summer (Can`t Last Too Long)": a good Pop Rock song recorded in 1987 with guitarist Scott Gorham and drummer Michael Sturgis (so, recorded without Carl Palmer), very eighties in style with electronic drums. Another good Pop Rock song, called "Kari-Anne" (a studio track previously released in the "Asia Live in Moscow" album in 1991, released by Rhino Records) was also recorded with Gorham and Sturgis in the line-up, but it wasn`t included in this "Gold " compilation maybe because it wasn`t originally released by Geffen Records. - "Praying 4 a Miracle": a song composed and produced by Wetton with David Cassidy (yes, a former member of "The Partridge Family"!). It is also a good ballad. - "Days Like These": a good Rock song which was composed by Steve Jones (is he the same member of the "Sex Pistols" band?), which was released as a single to promote the "Then and Now" album.

About the booklet notes: I think that they have a good history from the band. The only thing that I didn`t like is that they don`t include the release dates of the singles and from the "Alpha" album. But they are good anyway.

In conclusion, if you donīt have the first three studio albums from ASIA albums (and the four "new" tracks from the "Then and Now" compilation) in the CD format, or you never have listened to the songs previously released as B-sides of singles, or you didn`t like the sound of the original CD releases, this "Gold" compilation (with "Gold"really being the title of a series of two- CDs compilations from several bands), this "Gold" compilation from ASIA is the best choice to listen to them in better sound, with one song played after the other after a very brief silence between them (in comparison to the original CD releases). Very good remasterings.

Guillermo | 4/5 |

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