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ALPHA

Asia

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Asia Alpha  album cover
2.76 | 226 ratings | 35 reviews | 10% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1983

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Don't Cry (3:41)
2. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes (3:13)
3. Never In A Million Years (3:46)
4. My Own Time (I'll Do What I Want) (3:46)
5. The Heat Goes On (5:00)
6. Eye To Eye (3:14)
7. The Last To Know (4:40)
8. True Colors (3:53)
9. Midnight Sun (3:48)
10. Open Your Eyes (6:26)

Total Time: 41:27

Lyrics

Search ASIA Alpha lyrics

Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Geoffery Downes / keyboards
- Steve Howe / guitars
- Carl Palmer / drums
- John Wetton / vocals, bass

Releases information

1983 CD Geffen 2-4008
1983, Cassette, Geffen M5G 4008 (includes the song "Daylight" after the song "Open Your Eyes")

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Guillermo for the last updates
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Audio CD$5.32
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ASIA Alpha ratings distribution


2.76
(226 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(10%)
10%
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(23%)
23%
Good, but non-essential (34%)
34%
Collectors/fans only (22%)
22%
Poor. Only for completionists (12%)
12%

ASIA Alpha reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
1 stars They became master of regressive rock and show you the way to the endless spiral downwards. I was always one not to consider this band as prog , and hated those gigantic musicians to be doing such a run-of-the-mill soup , but nowadays , I realize that they must've needed to put the soup on their dinner table to feed their families . In French one might talk of Rock Alimentaire;-)

Actually does this album fare any better than the previous one. No! Actually , with the surprise (even if not pleasant) of their debut album gone , this album is even more deceiving. The same type of sophisticated rock aimed clearly at some nostalgia-stricken fans of the 70's golden era (the Roger Dean artwork sleeve is one of those "attrape-nigaud" - a con) out for landmarks in the new musical landscape of the 80's.

Little more than fillers after a few noticeable radio-friendly slightly proggish FM rock hits to have been aired. Their first two albums sold in fair quantities at the time , but it was because of lack of real offer. Marillion was still a best kept secret , Yes was dormant , Genesis was pop and others had folded.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#26771) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, March 01, 2004

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars The heat goes on

"Alpha" is the second album by the "supergroup", and once again comprises entirely of shorter, more commercially orientated songs than those of the members' previous groups. The album is very much a follow on from the band's debut album, but benefits from the famous four knowing each other that bit better, and thus working more cohesively together.

John Wetton's "The smile has left your eyes" is easily the best track, The song is essentially a power ballad, which would not sound out of place on a Boston album. it's interesting that as a mark of respect, the band will not perform it in his absence, but Wetton regularly includes it in his live set.

There are many other highlights throughout the album. "The heat goes on" and "Don't cry" were excellent and highly commercial singles, but virtually any of the tracks could have been selected for single release.

"Open your eyes" closes the album in a slightly more progressive manner. It opens with a segment of "Mars" from the planets suite by Holst before bursting into a supremely powerful and melodic number. The track has a great final section, which builds to the instrumental finale.

As has been said many times before, Asia do not make prog as we know it, despite the pedigree of the members. This is first class stuff nonetheless.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#26773) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, March 05, 2004

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This record is slightly sentimental, perfect for the young intellectual teenagers we were, dreaming of some comprehensive girls and some good jobs to do as a living. When I listen again to this nowadays, I always think about the 80's, recalling how enthusiastic we were about our future! Actually when you listen to the melodic and modern epic keyboards, to the catchy and addictive lead & backing vocals, to the melodic electric guitars and the modest drums, you just say to yourself: "it was a privilege for us to have such a great record to wholeheartedly listen". This record was like a model, it was truly appreciated since we were beginning to meet girls. It was not rare to notice many garage bands try to play their songs. In order of comparison, let's mention the prog band Pallas sounds a bit like them. All the instruments on Alpha form a solid ensemble, and you just listen to the music as a whole. One may qualify this album as being accessible, and the songs are not extremely progressive. The music is rather simple, barely progressive, and definitely not complex.

Rating: 4.5 stars

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#26775) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, April 08, 2004

Review by 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).

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Send comments to daveconn (BETA) | Report this review (#26776) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, April 15, 2004

Review by Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This album is more pop than their first album. It seems that Steve Howe was the biggest influence in the little progressive sound of the previous album. It seems that record label executives wanted this album to be more pop oriented to secure competition with other bands of other labels which were in the fad and in the market of the pop rock style of the eighties (Journey, Foreigner, etc.). So, Steve Howe`s compositions were out of this album, destined to B-sides of the singles, and the producer (which also worked with Journey) and the record label thought that Wetton and Downes could be the leaders in songwriting and in the band. (These are only my speculations; it is only my opinion).So, the quality for prog fans wasn`t the same as the previous album. Which saves this album from being bad is the performance of the songs by very good musicians. Mainly, Steve Howe`s guitars are very good again, like Carl Palmer`s drums. The sound of the album is centered in Geoff Downes` keyboards and John Wetton`s vocals (which are also very good but very pop rock oriented).There are a lot of echoes and effects added to the final sound of the songs, maybe "overproduced". But this album was still better than their next, "Astra", recorded without Steve Howe. The best songs of this "Alpha" album are: "Don`t Cry", "The Smile has left your eyes", "The heat goes on", "Eye to eye", "Midnight sun", "Open your eyes" and "Daylight" (this last one included in the cassette version).

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Send comments to Guillermo (BETA) | Report this review (#26777) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, September 09, 2004

Review by Eetu Pellonpää
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Maybe 2½ stars... The progressive giants of the 70's managed to do some very well produced pop on the start of 80's. Good compositions and playing of fine musicians wrapped up by cool artwork of Roger Dean. I recall that I was pleased by some of the tracks as a teenager, but today some elements on this record seem banal in a way, and I haven't listened this for some time. It's a worthy album still if you like this kind of stuff (minority in this site?) or are interested of the careers of these musicians.

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Send comments to Eetu Pellonpää (BETA) | Report this review (#26781) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, March 31, 2005

Review by E-Dub
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Man alive, did I wear a groove into the vinyl album of this one when I was a kid. Unlike the majority, I preferred the follow-up to their debut. Cannot be taken as a prog or progressive album, however. Sure, it has progressive moments, but it's more like a Journey album than a King Crimson or Yes album.

Side one still gets cranked in the car from time to time...and it's not because of the hits "Don't Cry" or "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes". I much prefer "My Own Time (I'll Do What I Want)" and "Never In A Million Years". Lush mixing and layering makes for a wall of sound...especially from Geoff Downes.

"The Last To Know" is a very sappy ballad; but, I've always liked it. A tender intro by Downes, Wettons amazing vocals that are powerful even when softly spoken. Palmers drumming is the highlight, though. I hang onto this one purely for nostalgic reasons. The music is out of date and it's lambasted by critics and fans alike, but the music gave me a lot of enjoyment as a kid...and it still does.

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Send comments to E-Dub (BETA) | Report this review (#70588) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, February 26, 2006

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars When this band was formed I did not expect that it's gonna play something "prog". It's the same expectation I imposed on GTR which basically the project by which two guitar maestro wanted to play together in more relax fashion - out from prog vein. It was the case with ASIA. With this view in mind, I got no problem enjoying Asia first album which in fact "Time Again" and "Wildest Dream" became my morning call favorite. When this second album came out, I fell in love with "True Colors" (track 8). I did not know exactly why I liked it - it's probably I liked because the kind of combination of hard rock with symphonic style. I especially enjoyed it when the vocal sing "True colors .!!!" followed with great guitar work combined with keyboard. I repeatedly play True Colors especially when I need an energizer of the day - to lift up my spirit and emotion. Great track. The other track which also favored me was "The Last To Know" which has great keyboard work.

Well, I think that's exactly the strong point of this second album by Asia: the combination of symphonic keyboard work with hard rock music with sometimes it sounds like pop song. For example: "Don't Cry" which is definitely a pop rock song. But when it is presented with a combined keyboard and guitar work, I can feel something different with any typical pop rock song. The ballad "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes" is also an accessible song to enjoy for most people.

Through this second album Asia has proved their existence as a band with a hard rock as their main style combined with symphonic touch through keyboard and guitar work. It's a good album to enjoy and it has become one of Asia album that finally I converted from cassette to CD because I cannot afford for not having this CD in my rock collection. It's too good to be missed, I think. This is one of my favorite rock albums. All members of the band play excellently here. I like Wetton voice, Howe guitar style and Downes keyboard. Keep on proggin' ..!

Progressively yours, GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#73162) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, March 26, 2006

Review by ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars Asia’s second suffers from a one-dimensional contribution by John Wetton who provided all the lyrics, although Geoff Downes is given co-credit on all but the cheesy ballad “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes”.

This is a much more commercial album than the debut, which was itself a pretty sanitized work. Alpha generated five hit singles in the American radio market, one fewer than the debut, including the b-side radio hit “Daylight”. The novelty of reconstituted 70s proggers trying to compete with younger and less talented (but more visually appealing) new-wave and pop entertainers was fast wearing thin by 1983. Asia would yield only three more hit singles after this, and their albums would continue to slide in sales rankings until they disappeared altogether. Steve Howe would get while the getting was good and leave following this album to form the just-as-cheesy GTR, followed by a stint in the underachieving Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, and Howe.

The frustration with this album is of course due to these guys all being consummate musicians who were certainly capable of putting together a truly impressive piece of art, and should have had the capital clout even in the artistically-castrated 80s to do so. But they chose to refine their sound even further and serve up a record executive’s dream in 1983 – a hit album that promised appeal to old and new fans alike, without exactly satisfying either.

There are a few interesting moments here, most notably Howe’s guitar and Downes’ keyboards during an all-to-brief instrumental passage on “The Heat Goes On”, which are quite good. Carl Palmer is his usual pompous self on drums throughout the album (and I mean that in a good way), but he just feels like he’s on autopilot for the most part, and especially on “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes” and “Never in a Million Years”. His flourishes on the album-ending “Open Your Eyes” are the most pronounced contribution to the album.

Steve Howe seems to have already checked his interest and contributions at the door, offering perfunctory performances, with the exception of the aforementioned “Open Your Eyes”, which in my mind is the only really interesting track with its slightly mystic feel, emotive keyboards, and innovative guitar.

The only other songs worth a mention are not in a positive sense. “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes” is a power ballad by Wetton that even in 1983 I thought would have sounded better covered by Barry Manilow (and I don’t mean that in a good way). “The Last to Know” also falls into this category, except I picture the really angsty guy in Tears for Fears singing this one. “Midnight Sun” is the most forgettable song the band would ever record, although it is the only one that doesn’t appear to have a relationship with some woman as a theme. But at least the band gets credit for a very tasteful album cover.

Overall this is a definite step down from the debut Asia album, which I actually felt was about the best we could all hope for considering the musical landscape of the time. While I was quite happy to pick up the first album and played it incessantly, this second one is still in pristine in my collection simply because it hasn’t spent the time on the turntable that the first one did. By the time this came out we had Marillion to give us new hope for a brighter musical future, and Asia no longer held that promise. As a result, the band was largely relegated to endless lineup changes and nostalgic live compilations, and this would be the last Asia studio album I ever bought. Two stars.

peace

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Posted Sunday, June 25, 2006

Review by progaardvark
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Asia's follow up to their multi-million selling eponymous debut was Alpha. Alpha, in many regards, was much like their debut. However, it showed even more of a leaning towards commercial music, particularly with the use of more ballads. It received mostly indifferent criticism at the time, didn't fare as well on the charts or on the radio, but still managed to reach platinum status. Apparently John Wetton was either forced out of the band due to poor sales (how is platinum status poor?) or quit (according to the band). He would get replaced by Greg Lake for a famous concert they had in Japan in December 1983. Lake would leave in early 1984 while Wetton returned for their next album called Astra in 1985.

Again, this is AOR music comparable to the likes of Boston or Journey. It was mostly the product of John Wetton and Geoff Downes, with Steve Howe and Carl Palmer being mostly left out of the writing process. This caused some tensions in the band, even causing some fans to be disappointed in their supposed treating of Howe and Palmer as similar to session musicians. Alpha might actually fare pretty well on a mainstream rock site, but at a prog site such as this, it just doesn't have any music on it worthy to make note of. Two stars. For collectors and fans only.

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Posted Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Review by TGM: Orb
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Review 52, Alpha, Asia

After a fiery, brilliant debut, this supergroup appears to have somewhat burned out. While there is a more progressive edge, and it is less of a target for PA AOR-hunter squads, it is simply not as solid an album. I have to admit that I'm probably not the fairest judge, since my first listen was during a time of moderate personal stress. Nonetheless, it's grown on me, and the weak points are relatively few. Recommended to the majority of people who are interested in really listening to an album rather than giving it a spin and characterising it.

Don't Cry is a pretty typical 'AOR'-with-musicianship single. Neat drumming from Palmer, and some good playing from Howe. The real issue is the lyrics, which are terrible, and preferably ignored or mocked. The slightly whiny block-choral Don't Cry is also a bit erk. However, the piece as a whole isn't actually that poor.

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes is a more balladic piece, with Wetton's bass standing out a bit more, and an odd keyboard riff thing. The lyrics, again, are very forgettable (thankfully), and again they're compensated for by the musicianship and nice additions within the AOR context. A very odd couple of escalations at an almost appropriate time.

Never In A Million Years starts off very well in the Sole Survivor tradition with typical percussion bass and disgustingly addictive guitar. The chorus is a bit of a let down, with a couple of negligible keyboard touches making for most of the potential interest. The following verses again are well-backed by Howe and Downes.

My Own Time (I'll Do What I Want To) is pretty good. Relaxed vocals from Wetton, as well as his typical shouty mass-chorus-vocal with a superb Howe guitar. The keys work very nicely and carefully, adding a level of subtlety I wouldn't really expect from an Asia song. It's unfortunate that the piece drags on too long at the end, despite the solid Howe soloing.

The Heat Goes On begins with a type-cast melodramatic piano. A catchy bass-drums backs it, while key and guitar edges fire off everywhere. Wetton and Palmer also escape their mould enough to keep a definite interest. Solid vocals and more digestible lyrics than the previous few. At about 2.30 Wetton provides a surprising (if brief) bass solo and Howe bursts into a fiery burst of soloing. Geoff Downes, though often derided, also provides a killer solo (on an organ and with a killer tone). Great piece.

Eye To Eye is a potent rock piece, using Steve Howe's backing vocals to good effects, and with a surprisingly well-ranged vocal from Wetton. His lyrics are now basically up to scratch. A more quirky piano/keys riff even suggests Gentle Giant. Howe and Palmer, as always, are great, and Geoff Downes provides a very progressive edge to the piece. The ending is a little weak, with a fade, but that's forgivable.

The Last To Know is probably my last choice for the album. The keyboard-based sound of the opening doesn't really pay off to well, feeling a little lacking in energy. Wetton's vocals don't really suit the stripped back sound that well, either. The chorus is pretty good, with everyone showing solid musicianship. The instrumental bridge makes a much better use of the keys, when assisted by Palmer's wonderful drumming. Again, a lyrical mess, but I don't really care.

True Colors is the standard tens-opening-moves-onto-rocking-chorus song. Again, blistering performances from Howe and Palmer. It does move into slightly odder song structures, even if I don't think it really payed off, and despite the rather simple additions of Downes, the piece as a whole works quite well.

Midnight Sun is a more upbeat piece, feeling more like something you'd expect from later ELP than the Wetton pedigree. I'm not entirely sure of my opinion on this one, as the experience can differ on various listens. The guitar work and drumming is always superb, but occasionally I don't think they really hit the positive atmosphere in the right way.

Open Your Eyes is probably the album's high, with solid performances from all involved, some very nice vocal effects in classic 80s style, as well as a bit of pseudo-Beach Boys fun. The keyboards are highly atmospheric, the lyrics decent. The high point is, however, the transition from the vocal refrain 'Open Your Eyes' to a full-blown extended instrumental section with simply stunning playing from everyone, especially Palmer and Howe. One of my all-time favourite songs, and certainly into my revised top 100 later in the year.

If you thought the first album was disgusting AOR and should be turned into firewood, you're a lost cause. Otherwise, get this one. Carl Palmer is still in absolutely top form on the album, and Howe is no slouch either, so a must-have for fans of those two (though I suppose only if you like the more fiery and aggressive Howe playing). Naturally, all music like this tends to sound better when louder, so, if you don't at first get it, try again at a higher volume. If you're not familiar with Asia, I'd start with the debut, as if you don't like that, I wouldn't recommend Alpha. Though it wasn't love on first listen (probably due to the sheer ill timing of 'never in a million years...'), it has massively grown on me, and is a great album in its own right. Four stars, not a masterpiece, but at times simply blow-away rock with solid musicians.

Rating: Four Stars Favourite Track: Open Your Eyes

Edit: Thought a three was maybe a better acknowledgement that there are a couple of very mediocre tracks and it's not quite as amazing in the good bits or on the vocal front as the debut was.

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Posted Friday, June 27, 2008

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Alpha is the second album from supergroup Asia. The lineup which consist of Geoffery Downes ( Yes) on keyboards, Steve Howe ( Yes) on guitar, Carl Palmer ( The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Atomic Rooster, Emerson, Lake & Palmer) on drums and John Wetton ( King Crimson, UK, Uriah Heep) on bass and vocals is unchanged since the self titled debut which was released in 1982 the year before the release of Alpha.

The music unfortunately has changed a bit towards the worse. The debut had some enjoyable moments where you could hear that these four musicians where once some of the most prolific people on the British prog rock scene. I don´t care much for the debut but it had a few progressive moments, that were at least partially enjoyable. Alpha sees Asia digging even deeper into AOR symphonic rock territory. The songs are now even more simplistic and plastered with commercial sounding keyboard parts and especially memorable pop choruses. I won´t point out any song on this album for being either worse or better than the others as all the songs melt together into one big pile of plastic music. The cheesy lyrics are just horrible too. Banale pop lyrics written for an audience who doesn´t demand anything else but girl loves boy lyrics.

The musicianship is of course good, but nothing here really demands good musicians maybe except for the choir arrangements which are well done but too cheesy.

The production is thin. An eighties nightmare. Well I´m being a bit harsh here as I would normally love a production like this but put in the context of the weak songs the production fails.

The coverart signals prog rock which is false marketing.

Well there isn´t really anything I like about this album and I will give this a small 2 star rating. I would love to give this one a 1 star rating but as there is nothing wrong with the quality of the compositions and it´s really just a matter of personal taste if you like this music or not. I can´t recommend this to prog lovers though.

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Posted Monday, July 07, 2008

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
3 stars The first, the second, and the last (in a way)

Alpha is the name of the first letter of the Greek alphabet (and has, of course, given its name to the very alphabet itself). But despite what is implied by this title of this album, Alpha was not Asia's first album, but their second. It was also the last to feature the four original members (until the reunion in the new millennium).

One problem I had with the band's self-titled debut album was that its nine songs were too similar to each other having the result that there was very little variation on that album. Alpha is much better in that respect and benefits greatly from having more variation with more different types of songs. However, the opening Don't Cry is possibly the band's worst song ever! The lyrics are especially unimaginative and extremely cheesy; 'Dont cry now that I've found you, Don't cry take a look around you, Don't cry it took so long to find you, Do what you want, but little darling please dont cry' Yuck! But, as I said earlier, it gets better. As a side note: the recent live DVD Fantasia - Live In Tokyo features a different version of this song that I think is much better than this original version.

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes is an example one type of song that I felt was missing on the debut. Again, the lyrics are rather syrupy and cheesy, but it is a nice ballad anyway that lends diversity to the album.

The rest of the album is indeed very good and among Asia's better material, at least by this line up of the band. The Heat Goes On features a very nice organ solo by Geoff Downes and Open Your Eyes, the album's longest track, is possibly also the most progressive one. All this amounts to making Alpha possibly my favourite Asia studio album despite some rather cheesy passages.

Asia seems to be a much hated band among some Prog fans, but Alpha is not at all as bad as these people say, but it is also far from excellent. Once again there is a beautiful cover art by the great Roger Dean who seems to have adopted his style to the 80's just as well as the involved musicians did.

Recommended for people who do not mind the 80's sound and can accept some commercial aspects in Prog.

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Posted Monday, July 28, 2008

Review by J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is the second album from supergroup Asia. Right off the bat, I warn you this isn't prog so don't expect it just because of all the familiar faces in prog. If you liked the first album, you will like this just the same. The music is all of the same caliber, and has similar song layout. Like I said, this isn't prog, so there are no long songs or complexity, so the hidden talent of the band doesn't show much at all. All of the songs are incredible pop rock songs (with the exception of a few). My favorite is probably THE SMILE HAS LEFT YOUR EYES. I'll recommend this to any pop rock fan and even prog fan. If you can shake the image that these are prog musicians, you'll be pleasently surprised. 5/5 for pop rock, 4/5 for prog.

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Posted Monday, December 08, 2008

Review by Modrigue
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The second recording with the classic lineup (third one will be in 2008 !) before Steve Howe's departure, and also ASIA's last enjoyable album. Alpha is in the vein of its predecessor. But... The first album was quite regular, this one is inegal. It features more commercial poppy songs, without the strength of the melodies of the former album, and catchy tracks with some prog elements, more present this time.

The beginning of Alpha is quite soppy and can announce the worst. Fortunately, powerful songs follows (Never In A Million Years, The Heat Goes On, True Colors...). Some contains even more progressive touch and spacey moments (Eye To Eye, Midnight Sun, Open Your Eyes) than in the first album. The disc ends on an epic fantasy ambiance driven by keyboards and guitar. Yet, the overall disc is irregular.

With Alpha, ASIA follows the pop-prog path carved in their first album, but going a little more cheesy. The year after, Steve Howe will leave the band. Further albums won't be able to match the quality of the first two and ASIA's career won't be the same. Anyway, Alpha should please those who enjoyed the first opus.

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Posted Saturday, December 27, 2008

Review by The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A very worthy follow-up to the ultra-successful "Asia"!

And in my opinion, even better than the first one... Ok, the music is still far from what we could hope os the union of such musicians, but this time the result is a bit more symphonic, and less commercial. The chorus are so pompous like before, but the arrangements and some tracks are not so friendly for the masses like the band's debut. Just hear the great The Heat Goes On keyboard solo.

This time, I think the protagonist of the album (apart from Wetton's voice...) is the Steve Howe's guitar work. He is really wonderful in this album, while in the first time he sounded a bit diminished between the Downes's keyboards and the powerful Carl Palmer's drums. He really shines on guitar in tracks like My Own Time, where he plays a wonderful melody in the verses, and in the beautiful Midnight Sun solo.

The other fact that makes this album better than its predecessor for me, is the production... Maybe it's not so polished like in "Asia", but it's more direct, more organic, and not so artificial. Wetton's voice doesn't sounds perfect, like some drums and arrangements, but this make the album more natural, and not so factory sounding like the first one. Nevertheless, the Asia style is still here, with the magnificient chorus like Never in a Million Years and The Last to Know.

Best tracks: Never in a Million Years (I love the chorus, despite it's very commercial...), The Heat Goes On (specially for the great Downes keyboards solo...), The last to Know (one fo the jewels of the album, very sweet and with another great chorus...) and Midnight Sun (maybe my favourite Asia song... Wonderful verses, and a priceless guitar solo)

Conclusion: "Alpha" is not so commercial like the first band release, and thanks to its natural and less artificial production, sounds better in my opinion. Another good fact of the album is the good Steve Howe's work, having more protagonist than before... Maybe it's still a bit dissapointing hearing this great musicians making music that has almost nothing to do with prog, but if you like 80's AOR in the vein of Journey or Saga, then "Alpha" is an album made for you. Just like the band's debut, but even better in my opinion... Very good!

My rating: ***1/2

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Posted Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Errors and Omissions Team
2 stars And cover looked so promisingly But then, Don't Cry and I knew, that this is arena rock. Or ARO (live version of AOR). Which offers nothing I like. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes offers at least melody, if nothing more. I know that these musicians should be skilled masters. But this is one of these rare moments, when you realize, that they have skills, or in the other words, they have power to play better, but they don't want to (I suppose) , thinking that normal listener will be satisfied with more mundane rock, absolutely nothing proggy at all. And that Heat Goes On is true, especially this heat from crazed audience, who's primary concern is to head-bang a little bit. I sometimes want it too, but because I've decided not only to rate how I like it (not much), but also how good album is, so I can say that guitar solos are too short, vocals average, keyboards good at times.

3(-) for an Asia album, which makes me quite confused.

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Posted Sunday, September 13, 2009

Review by stefro
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars As much as this reviewer loves Yes, John Wetton's work with King Crimson and Steve Howe's guitar, ASIA will always be seen as the corporate cheese-rock cop-out super-group who produced a string of dire albums through the 1980's and forever stained the resume's of all involved. After the brutal musical genocide that is otherwise known as Punk-Rock mistakes were made, and only the brave or the very successful were still producing straight-ahead progressive rock. YES had splintered into several squabbling factions, Robert Fripp had dumped KING CRIMSON and America was being taken over by a clutch of slick 'stadium rock' groups such as FOREIGNER, JOURNEY and BOSTON, all of whom were riding the dollar-paved highway to sell-out super-stardom. With one canny eye on the fat American market Wetton and Howe teamed up with vocalist-and-keyboardist Geoff Downes, formerly of THE BUGGLES and YES, and also brought in the Palmer from EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER(first name Carl) on drums. ALPHA was released in 1983, but failed to emulate the huge success of the group's eponymously-titled debut of a year earlier. The hackneyed formula was pretty much the same - big-ballads, fantasy-trimmings, Roger Dean cover, synth rock - just this time around the buying public didn't seem so keen. The line-up would soon chop-and-change, and the group eventually became merely a footnote of rock history when obviously something much more grand was planned by those involved. They were a super-group after all. It's hard to draw comparisons with other groups as ASIA'S brand of faux-prog classic-rock sounds very weak when compared to the nearest touchstones. And it sounds positively awful when paired with FOREIGNER's excellent '4' album, 'Escape' by JOURNEY or FLASH'S eponymous debut, albums that no doubt shared ASIA'a intended musical ambitions. Over-produced and glossy and now extremely-dated, ASIA were a commercially-successful but critically-disdained group who, for some, summed-up all that was pompous and over-indulgent about 1980's rock music. Considering the group's heritage, it's a damn shame. This is as far from 'Fallen Angel' , 'Lucky Man' or 'Roundabout' as one can get. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010

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Posted Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Review by aapatsos
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
2 stars Scarce listenings from Asia's early albums have created the impression to me that this is not an exceptional band, but maybe worth investigating further for particular albums. Now I seriously doubt that "Alpha" is one of them.

With the exception of the simplistic, pop (childish would fit better here) approach of the opening track, the rest of the compositions are not bad as such. Without any glimpses of progressive music (not that this is a bad thing per se), the band executes its AOR-based compositions quite pleasantly. The album is, however, dominated by a large number of indifferent ballads or power-ballads - 4, if I have counted well - without a single memorable moment, even in the relatively better-worked tracks (i.e. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes).

Fortunately, there are a few moments where the compositional abilities of the famous members (only) start to appear. The Heat Goes On is probably the best track, with a solid verse and melodic chorus, careful riff-work and pieces of interesting keyboard and guitar soloing. Never in a Million Years is based on its catchy verse and decent mid-tempo rocking rhythm section, despite suffering from a rather cheesy chorus. True Colors is the last worth-mentioning composition, which, starting from a nice keyboard passage, slowly builds up to a bombastic and catchy chorus; this was the first track that caught my attention from the album.

The biggest problem I see with this release is not the absence of innovative musicianship, but the lack of strong melodies; an integral part of any good AOR album. Unless someone is a devoted fan of bands like Boston, Journey etc, I can not see how he/she would rank this album higher than the level of mediocrity (that it probably deserves).

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Posted Friday, October 15, 2010

Review by lazland
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The follow up to the massive hit debut album, the wheels fell off the bandwagon with this one. It still did well commercially, although not as well as the first, and the cracks in the band's unity appeared, leading to years of feuds. In addition, the production makes it sound as if the band are playing down a telephone line from Antarctica.

Don't Cry is, of course, the Heat Of The Moment type single to set things off. It isn't as good, and is bland without being insulting.

There are, however, still some magical moments and songs on the album. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes is a grandiose piece of pomp rock, and Wetton and Downes are magnificent on it. Actually, therein lies half of the problem with this. Steve Howe has been virtually produced and engineered out of proceedings, so whereas for the debut he was clear as a bell and by far the most important contributor, with this, and this track in particular, you have to struggle to hear him clearly. No wonder he left.

Never In A Million Years is a very good pop rock track, and once again dominated by Geoff Downes parp parping away. Likewise My Own Time is a fine pomp rock track, with a cracking chorus which sounds even better singing along after more than a few beers!

The highlight for me, though, is Midnight Sun, which is a glorious track, and amongst the finest any of them ever put down on vinyl. Sensitive, well played, emotional, it is a great track which puts you in mind of the fact that you knew the band were so much more capable than much of what is included on this album. It is also, and this is, of course, no coincidence, Steve Howe's finest contribution, featuring some incredible work.

Pardon the pun, but this album is no progression from the first. It was an attempt to create more of the same, and that was a mistake. Whereas the first one was a masterpiece of its kind, this one is merely a good rock album, and one that clearly would have benefited from the band taking a lot more time over all aspects of writing, recording, and playing.

Three stars for this. A good album, but one which has non essential written all over the wondrous Roger Dean cover creation.

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Posted Monday, December 06, 2010

Review by Matti
COLLABORATOR Neo-Prog Team
2 stars In my early teens I listened to LP's of my sister and brother. She had both Asia (the 1982 debut) and its follower. The debut was a strong pleasure - and one of the earliest "favourite albums" of mine - but this one never made a deep impact. (The Roger Dean cover is equally excellent, though.) It lacks the progressive tone of its big brother and sounds exactly what it was: hastily written, utterly commercial, cheesy, pompous arena rock with rather simple song structures, built around powerful vocals of John Wetton. I bet Steve Howe had very little to do with compositions.

'Don't Cry' is a fast-tempo hit with a catchy chorus, 'The Smile Has Left Your Eyes' a power- ballad with a bleeding heart chorus that makes me want to strangle Wetton, and the rest of the album follows the same formula. The two tracks that I have the most positive memory of, are 'Midnight Sun' (its spacey,dreamy emotion I can better relate to: in Finland we do have a midnight sun in midsummer) and 'Open Your Eyes' which is the longest track (6:26) and in addition to the usual chorus-orientation has a more mystic section too.

Heartily recommended to 80's commercial arena rock lovers. In that field alone this is a strong and well played album.

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Posted Thursday, July 05, 2012

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
3 stars I've never actually been much of a fan of this particular release in the past, seeing that Alpha was not as strong of a record in the highlights department as the solid debut album. Luckily I've given it a few more chances recently and now I have actually began to see some of its charm.

In retrospect, it's actually pretty easy for me to point out my major problem with this release --- the album opening Don't Cry is far from the mighty ! On top of that, none of these ten tracks feature highlights that could measure to crowd pleasers like Only Time Will Tell, Sole Survivor, Wildest Dreams etc... which is the main reason why this album wasn't anywhere as successful as the band's mighty debut album.

Having covered most of the main negatives, let's talk about why this actually is not as bad of an album as I previously have thought it to be. Even if the tracks aren't a colorful at first sight, there is definitely some growth potential to some of these compositions. To me it would have made more sense to revise the order of this album by swapping the positions of Don't Cry and the far superior (potential opener) The Heat Goes On. I would also would have liked to move some of the more prominent tracks of side two to the center of the album, I'm talking especially about Eye To Eye, True Colors and Open Your Eyes, the latter never really made much sense to me as the closing number.

Overall, there were quite a few nice numbers on this record that do add some momentum to this album, the only problem is that it takes time for the tracks to grow on the listener. We're actually talking about valuable time that could have been spent listening to more ambitious music! Still, if you have the time and effort then Alpha does have some charm to it.

**** star songs: The Smile Has Left Your Eyes (3:13) The Heat Goes On (5:00) Eye To Eye (3:14) The Last To Know (4:40) True Colors (3:53) Open Your Eyes (6:26)

*** star songs: Don't Cry (3:41) Never In A Million Years (3:46) My Own Time (I'll Do What I Want) (3:46) Midnight Sun (3:48)

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Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2012

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4 stars I don't see how this album is worse than their debut. To my ears they form a perfect very 80's sounding pleasant music experience. Surely it's not a prog that we know and love. Therefore strictly speaking one or two star rating is explainable, but if we just forget for the moment that we shoul ... (read more)

Report this review (#992221) | Posted by Shad | Saturday, July 06, 2013 | Review Permanlink

1 stars The second album from this supergroup and the follow up to the massive hit album Asia. How do you follow up an album like Asia ? It seems like with an album that cannot have been more than the left overs from Asia. Gone is some of the good, well crafted stuff and in comes easy cheasy AOR and po ... (read more)

Report this review (#500115) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Monday, August 08, 2011 | Review Permanlink

1 stars We are in 80's and musicians suffer from drastic changes in the fashion waves and commercial requirements. Some artists (I would say, rather, small minority of them) can adapt without losing edge and some not. Forming of Asia is exemplary case of the second. Where Yes and Rush pushed technologic ... (read more)

Report this review (#400546) | Posted by stewe | Monday, February 14, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars After an epic debut, Asia decided to play more of the same...actually the exact same. The songs seemingly have the same exact lyrics as the first album, same hooks, same notes...same everything. Anyone would fine themselves bored within the first 10 minutes of the album. The music is still ... (read more)

Report this review (#307450) | Posted by Jazzywoman | Saturday, October 30, 2010 | Review Permanlink

1 stars After tolerating their first, epic album, I saw this in a bargain bin and decided to give it a shot. Yikes... More of the same AOR (or less of the same?) tinged arena rock. There is very little prog here, and a lot of Journeyesque 80's average short stuff. The only saving song on this entire ... (read more)

Report this review (#294047) | Posted by mohaveman | Tuesday, August 10, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Alpha is the more-keys-and-less-rock oriented followup to Asia's legendary debut. Looking for some melancholy pop and power ballads with the golden voice of Mr. Wetton? Look no further. Looking for a complex progressive rock pur sang record? Go seeking elsewhere. Personally I really like this ... (read more)

Report this review (#120880) | Posted by Casartelli | Sunday, May 06, 2007 | Review Permanlink

1 stars What a disappoitment after a superb first album... either this was a contractual obligation, or they just ran out of ideas, but there is a total lack of inpiration in the songwriting and a in lyrics which are so full of cliches and banalities like "We'll last forever", "I'll never leave you" e ... (read more)

Report this review (#77130) | Posted by EMinkovitch | Thursday, May 04, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars ALPHA, which followed the debut album ASIA, in my opinion was very well done. It sounds very similar to the first album with strong sounding lyrics by John Wetton. Asia is bashed quite a bit on this site and I don't know why. I know their lyrics aren't the greatest but the general sound of ... (read more)

Report this review (#40092) | Posted by Zagnut | Saturday, July 23, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars All hail the lords of high cheese! Here, on their second outing, Asia cranks up the commerciality a couple of notches and further alienates the bulk of the prog rock fans. Well done boys, you completely sold your souls to the corporate rock devils. That said, I still have an affinity for this ... (read more)

Report this review (#26784) | Posted by gradylee | Wednesday, June 01, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The Alpha Album was for me the best Album of Asia. It was nos as succesful as the first one but much better as less coomercial. First time that is listen to the songs I thought what a dificult and different way to play music.Some months later after listening more than 10 times to the album i ... (read more)

Report this review (#26783) | Posted by | Monday, April 25, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Asia's first album obtained a great commercial success, and the record company wanted a follow up very quickly. So the band came back in studio just one year after without having time to composed strong material. If the the first album was the result of a commom effort by Wetton, Howe and Down ... (read more)

Report this review (#26782) | Posted by H.NOT | Sunday, April 10, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This was actually my first real introduction to Asia, and while this album has some truly awesome highlights there are some things with it that could have been better. I don't know what they did when mixing this album, but have a hard time imagining a less destint soundscape. This is a bit unf ... (read more)

Report this review (#26778) | Posted by | Monday, October 04, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars progress in sounding is heard from the beginning of this lp, very melodic songs and orchestral mood you find here from the first seconds of Don't Cry to the last seconds of Open Your Eyes. it's worth of buying. ... (read more)

Report this review (#26769) | Posted by l-s-d | Saturday, February 28, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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