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Asia - XXX CD (album) cover




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2.98 | 159 ratings

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Symphonic Team
2 stars Asia's latest is another compressed pop studio piece of pap. There is no prog so let's get that out of the way before we go further. NO PROG. So we have John Wetton, great as ever on vocals and bass, Geoff Downes marvellous on keyboards, Steve Howe eternally brilliant on guitars, and Carl Palmer a living legend on drums. They play nicely and won't trouble any metronome from maintaining a steady 4/4 beat. The metronome swings back and forth happily with this knowledge after years of battering from the complexities of ELP, King Crimson, and Yes.

The album is called 'XXX' in commemoration of the thirtieth anniversary of the album release, but don't dare Google Asia XXX while at work. Roger Dean's artwork is sublime paying homage to the debut album which is a nice touch, the proggiest thing about it as usual. It signifies The Chinese Year of The Water Dragon, 2012.

The album boasts some extremely popular radio hits already, I am talking about 'Bury Me In Willow', infectious chorus, steady 4/4 tempo, has a nice melody throughout and sweet vocals. It almost sounds like 80s AOR. It is nice. It did jam into my skull and I was walking around humming the tune; altogether now 'give me no standard, no eulogy, No red, white and blue, no sceptre and no cloak, Just bury me in willow, not in oooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaak.'.

'Tomorrow The World' is also popular. Great melody that wraps itself around your cerebral chord and refuses to let you sleep. The catchy chorus is maddeningly viral on your senses, you won't forget it if you listen too much. It is also nice. The synths sound like Europe's 'The Final Countdown' but it's a retro synth sound I agree with. The ending lead break is cool but not long enough, Mr Howe.

'No Religion' is even catchier than any of the other songs especially the maddening chorus 'Got no religion, just living hell, If I had some money, I'd drop it all in the wishing well, Stand in the doorway, wait for the man to come, Got no religion, and my life's just begun.' It has a decent keyboard solo and solid structure. Repetitive, sure, but that's radio friendly for you.

'Face on the Bridge' is the first single from 'XXX', reaching number 1. This and the first three songs are longer than 6 minutes but still are not as creative as one might desire given the talented skill on hand. Seeing the length of the songs made me wonder would they give us some virtuoso soloing? The answer is a resounding no. I could envisage housewives jumping about humming this while they make the dinner. Even my wife liked me listening to this pap, and she can't stand all that complex prog.

'Judas' annoys me lyrically and repetitively, but the worst song is 'Reno', a bonus track best left on the cutting room floor. It is dreadful slush. 'Ghost of a Chance' is also a dreary meandering syrupy ballad. Nice to put the old iphone in the air and sway during a concert, but give me Rush's 'Closer to the Heart' any day. The other bonus track is okay, 'I Know How You Feel', another saccharine lovey dovey ballad, but this has a strong melody that really is endearing.

At the end of listening to this AOR album one is left with a warm feeling, strong melodies and a mainstream radio sound does not hurt at all and at least Asia can create music that appeals to a mass audience. They are not particularly a band I would recommend or listen to often, but having stated that, this is still an album with quality production and packaging. All the talent of the prog legends though is buried in girly papsmear pop pith and it is a mediocre album with about 3 great songs. This album epitomises all the reasons I can't abide listening to top 40 radio hits; it is so syrupy the treacle pours out of my speakers. If this were an AOR site I would give it 3 stars, but it is not as good as their debut and I could only give that 2 stars so 2 stars it is again. I'm off to clean my ears out with some decent prog now, where's that King Crimson CD?

AtomicCrimsonRush | 2/5 |


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