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John Wetton John Wetton & Geoffrey Downes: Icon II - Rubicon album cover
3.38 | 32 ratings | 4 reviews | 16% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2006

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Die Is Cast (6:17)
2. Finger On The Trigger (4:01)
3. Reflections (Of My Life) (5:02)
4. To Catch A Thief (5:37)
5. Tears Of Joy (4:49)
6. Shannon (4:24)
7. The Hanging Tree (4:17)
8. The Glory Of Winning (4:12)
9. Whirlpool (5:28)
10. Rubicon (6:25)

Total time 50:32

Bonus track on Korean and Japanese CDs:
11. The Harbour Wall (4:17)

Line-up / Musicians

- John Wetton / vocals, basses, classical & acoustic guitars, co-producer
- Geoffrey Downes / keyboards, vocoder, co-producer

- Anneke Van Giersbergen / vocals (4,5)
- John Mitchell / electric guitars
- Hugh McDowell / cello
- Katie Jacoby / violin (5,6)
- Steve Christey / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Mixed Images

CD Frontiers Records ‎- FR CD 309 (2006, Europe)
CD Avalon MICP-10616 (2006, Japan) With a bonus track
CD Seoul Records SRCD-2917 (2006, South Korea) With a bonus track
CDRenaissance Records RMED-0802 (2006, US)
CD Frontiers Records S.r.l. FR CD 309 (2006, Italy)

Thanks to fishy for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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JOHN WETTON John Wetton & Geoffrey Downes: Icon II - Rubicon ratings distribution

(32 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(16%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)

JOHN WETTON John Wetton & Geoffrey Downes: Icon II - Rubicon reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars Iconic!

Icon II - Rubicon is the second collaborative effort by John Wetton and Geoff Downes who first worked together in Asia in the early 80's. Compared to the first Icon album, Icon II - Rubicon is certainly more "iconic" and might well be the finest set of songs that Wetton and Downes have ever written together, at least since the first two Asia albums that were released more than 20 years earlier. I think they have matured as songwriters and certainly as lyricists and there is nothing as banal as Heat Of The Moment or Don't Cry here.

The Icon projects, like Asia's albums, are primarily song dominated and do not involve long instrumental sections or many solos. However, there are a few tasteful keyboard and guitar solos throughout the album, always well integrated into the songs. On guitars we find none other than John Mitchell from Arena who is also a member of John Wetton's backing band (as can be seen on the excellent live DVD Amorata). Mitchell is a very talented guitarist, but in Icon's music guitar plays only a supporting role behind the dominating keyboards and vocals. In that sense Icon might be compared to Asia's third album Astra, the first Asia album after Steve Howe left the band. But the sound of Icon is much more organic due to the inclusion of several acoustic instruments and a much more timeless keyboard sound (often piano, symphonic synthesiser and some flute-like sounds) compared to the thin, more electronic sounds of the 80's.

To Catch A Theif and Tears Of Joy are folky songs with violin and gorgeous female vocals alongside Wetton's. John Wetton's voice is stronger than ever. Shannon is even folkier and could have come straight from a latter day Fairport Convention album (and they have made some very good albums recently!). This song also features (something that sounds like a) mandolin to great effect. The Hanging Tree (not the Arena song) has some tasteful percussion in addition to regular Rock drums. The sound palette is surprisingly rich and the sonic quality of the album is pristine.

It is hard to pick favourite tracks since the quality of the music is quite evenly spread over the album. But the opening and the closer, as well as the mostly acoustic, and very symphonic (some would say bombastic) ballad Reflections (Of My Life) are probably the best moments along with the Folk inspired songs mentioned above. The least good songs for me are Finger On The Trigger and The Glory Of Winning which are the songs most resembling the banal side of Asia with overly melodic and overly accessible choruses. The latter has some redeeming keyboard parts, however, and Whirlpool too has some tasteful instrumental work.

The conclusion is that Icon II - Rubicon is a very well made album from most perspectives. It is certainly better than the first Icon album and it will most certainly appeal to fans of Asia and possibly Arena. However, it is not the kind of music that will take the average Prog fan by storm. Still, I think this is a good addition to any Prog collection and up to par with Asia's better albums.

Review by progaeopteryx
2 stars Having been a fan of Asia from long ago (a guilty pleasure, I admit), I was curious enough to seek this one out and give it a try, particularly since the word on the street was that it sounded a lot like those early Wetton-fronted albums. And at the start of the album, yes, you do get that impression that it sounds like the Asia of old. But as the album continues, it starts tripping over itself and eventually falls flat on its face.

I don't mean to be mean to Geoffrey Downes and John Wetton. They are very skilled at what they do, but they're writing to an audience I guess I don't consider myself a part of anymore. Indeed, Wetton's vocals have aged well, like a fine wine. Their songwriting has aged more like cheese (pun intended). If they're going to go back to the glory days of Asia, then do it right, or do something different.

I do have to say that the addition of celloist Hugh McDowell really adds much needed texture to their sound. Downes' keyboard work really needs more depth on here (they don't sound all that different to me than the sound prevalent in the 1980s and early 1990s) and McDowell delivers that depth. Indeed, his cello mixed in with Wetton's vocal harmonies at times reminds me of the Electric Light Orchestra, of which McDowell was a former member of.

Even a guest appearance by Anneke van Giersbergen can't lift this album up, performing beautifully, but on some sleepy duet ballads. Guitarist John Mitchell only seems to perform in a supporting role-- what a waste of talent. I can only vaguely remember hearing two solos on ten songs. Downes pretty much hogs the spotlight, but his playing is not particularly inspiring. Geoff, do you even remember what you did on the Drama album anymore?

Generally, this is AOR/pop rock territory, with only slight prog rock touches. For collectors that must have to have everything in the Asia universe. For everyone else, there are much more greener pastures elsewhere.

Latest members reviews

5 stars "Who dares to ride across the Rubicon?" I should preface this review by stating that I have always been a fan of the keyboard driven melodic Asia sound (at least as envisioned by Wetton and Downes), and whilst I do acknowledge that they are not really a Prog band at all, I am not going to mark th ... (read more)

Report this review (#474683) | Posted by Oatley2112 | Sunday, July 3, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars After the relatively disappointing Icon last year, Mr. Wetton & Downes come back with a follow-up, Icon II- Rubicon. Believe me, this new album is far better than the first Icon. At time this album sounds a lot like the first Asia album, who is a reference in intelligent pop-rock. The arrange ... (read more)

Report this review (#103566) | Posted by StephLevs | Monday, December 18, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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