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Asia - Alpha  CD (album) cover

ALPHA

Asia

 

Prog Related

2.76 | 225 ratings

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daveconn
Prog Reviewer
3 stars The followup to "Asia"'s eponymous debut turned out to be just plain awlpha. As progressive rock fans dance their happy little dance of "I told you so," let's examine Alpha's flaws: Carl PALMER and Steve HOWE don't write any of the material, the vocal harmonies of their debut are replaced by processed multitracking of John WETTON's voice, almost every song is written from the perspective of a man who just broke up with his girlfriend (yippee!), the arrangements are schmaltzy, and the album was recorded in Canada. Steve HOWE, whose athletic guitar work was a minor revelation on "Asia", pulls up lame on "Alpha" -- he's almost a nonentity. The same could be said for Carl PALMER, who is reduced to 4/4 beats on tracks like "Never in a Million Years" that just mush the arrangements into non-potable pulp. But it's WETTON and the appropriately named Geoff Downes who shoulder the responsibility for "Alpha"'s failures: the songs are made from self-pitying dreck. Just a sampler of "Alpha"'s bits is enough to drag you down: "How can I offer sympathy? / When all I feel is pure rejection" (from "The Last to Know"), "The smile has left your eyes / Now there's no one to sympathize" (from "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes)," "Can you give me reasons / Why I made this sacrifice?" (from "Eye to Eye"), ad nauseum.

In retrospect, any album that begins by admonishing the listener "Don't cry" is probably destined to disappoint. Lest "Alpha" be regarded as a total waste, there are a few tracks like "Eye to Eye," "Midnight Sun" and "Open Your Eyes" that suggest some of the old magic is still there. However, the enigma of "Alpha" is that so little magic remained -- after all, these are the same four guys and the same producer that created the multiplatinum "Asia". It's clear that the band was becoming a vehicle for WETTON and Downes, who manage to drive the band into the toilet with one clean jerk of the wheel. But they were largely responsible for Asia's original success, so what gives? Theories abound, none of them pretty, all pointing squarely to Canada. In an odd move, only the cassette version features the track "Daylight" (apparently to weight it down in the event that it's jettisoned from moving cars).

daveconn | 3/5 |

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