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Asia Then & Now  album cover
2.51 | 68 ratings | 14 reviews | 13% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Boxset/Compilation, released in 1990

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Only Time Will Tell (4:46)
2. Heat Of The Moment (3:52)
3. Wildest Dreams (5:10)
4. Don't Cry (3:40)
5. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes (3:14)
6. Days Like These (4:05)
7. Prayin' 4 A Miracle (4:22)
8. Am I In Love? (4:24)
9. Summer (Can't Last Too Long) (4:16)
10. Voice Of America (4:18)

Total Time: 42:07

Line-up / Musicians

- Geoffrey Downes / keyboards
- Carl Palmer / drums
- John Wetton / vocals, bass

Additional musicians:
- Scott Gorham / guitar (9)
- Steve Howe / guitar (1 - 5)
- Ron Komie / guitar (7)
- Steve Lukather / guitar (6)
- Mandy Meyer / guitar (8 & 10)

Releases information

1990: The David Geffen Company GED 24298/ GEFD 24298

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to mandrakeroot for the last updates
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ASIA Then & Now ratings distribution

(68 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(13%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(15%)
Good, but non-essential (46%)
Collectors/fans only (18%)
Poor. Only for completionists (9%)

ASIA Then & Now reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by daveconn
4 stars Unable to cash in on their association with ASIA individually, the trio of Geoff DOWNES, Carl PALMER and John WETTON elected to resurrect the band in 1990 for a tour. Of course, mounting a tour without any product in the market seemed foolish, so a collection of old standards and unreleased songs recorded in the interim was packaged together as "Then & Now".

The first side features the US singles from "Asia" and "Alpha"; that's the "then" side. The "now" side (which is what fans were most interested in hearing) includes various permutations of the band, including once-and-future members Mandy Meyer and Michael Sturgis (Pat Thrall, who played guitar on the tour, isn't featured on any of these tracks). Since ASIA had about four years to come up with four new songs ("Voice of America" originally appeared on Astra), the new material is a vast improvement over "Astra". "Days Like These" (actually written by Steve Jones) was released as the single and snuck into the Top 100, despite lyrics more suited to a self-help seminar than a stadium. "Prayin 4 A Miracle" and "Am I In Love?" are typical of WETTON's downbeat, moody ballads, which isn't a bad thing at all. "Summer (Can't Last Too Long)" does.

Frankly, the band needed to be propped up on their past accomplishments to generate interest; even if the new songs are pretty good, they're a patch job designed to give the illusion that ASIA had re-formed. And eventually they did, with WETTON out of the picture, for 1992's "Aqua". Truthfully, that's the album to own if you want to see the future of ASIA. "Then & Now" is better suited to anyone who bought their first album and has yet to be stung by "Alpha" or "Astra".

Review by Guillermo
3 stars Maybe this album was more "a contractual obligation" with the record label, or maybe it was released in time with their reunion tour 1990-91. Also, the songs chosen for the Side One of the old L.P. (the "Then" Side) maybe were only chosen to demonstrate that Wetton and Downes were the real "Stars" of the band and the main composers of the Hits of the band. But the band couldn`t escape to Steve Howe`s "ghost" after he left, as his guitar playing style was not really substituted or even matched by other very good guest guitarists like Steve Lukather, Scott Gorham, etc. Some official recordings of their 1990-91 tour showed that without Howe the band couldn`t sound the same . Maybe if they knew then that a guitarist called Jimmy Haun (who re-recorded Howe`s parts in most of the ABWH songs in YES`"Union" album) could play "almost in the same style " as Howe`s, maybe they could have been more successful in their 1990-91 tour.

The best songs from the "Now" Side (Side Two of the L.P.) are "Days Like These", not composed by them, and "Summer Can`t Last Too Long". Both songs are good Pop Rock songs more similar to the style of their "Astra" album. I don`t know why they used "Song for America" to close Side Two, because this song from their "Astra" album wasn`t really a new song as it was previously released in late 1985.

It seems that this album is now out of print. Sales were not so good, I think.

It was confirmed some weeks ago that the original ASIA line-up (Downes, Howe, Palmer and Wetton) is going to do a reunior tour (starting in September) to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the formation of the band. It seems that, at last, Wetton and Howe are in good terms to play together again, at least for a tour only.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Now as it was then? and then before that

Asia have of course over the years been subject to more line up changes than the current Liverpool football team*. "Then and now" was released during one such period of turmoil, and was intended as a stopgap release to keep the Asia brand in the public eye.

While the then current line up of had recorded some material for a new album, there was insufficient to allow the record company to release it as a complete package. The new tracks were therefore supplemented by tracks which had already appeared on earlier albums.

Taking the "then" tracks first, these form a greatest hits package with songs such as "Only time will tell", "Heat of the moment", and John Wetton's fine "The smile has left your eyes" all having the comfortable feel of an old pair of slippers. The five "then" tracks all feature the (recently reformed) classic line up of course, including Steve Howe on guitar.

The "now" tracks retain the Wetton/Downes/Palmer partnership, but the guitar slot is populated on a less predictable basis, with Scott Gorham, Steve Lulkather, Ron Komie and Mandy Meyer all appearing on different tracks. "Voice of America" is the only one of the "new" tracks to also appear on an official album, being one of the standout tracks on the "Astra" album. "Summer (Can't last too long)" was the result of Wetton and Downes working on some demos with Scot Gorham and drummer Michael Sturgis. The song (no relation to the "Aria" track "Summer") has strong YES overtones, especially from the "Big Generator" and "Open your eyes" eras.

"Am I in love?" was one of the many songs recorded for, but not used on, the "Astra" album. The song which is a showcase for Wetton's vocals is a rather slushy ballad, which would not sound out of place on a Westlife album! There is something appealing about the song though, as long as you don't hear it too regularly.

The other two tracks here, "Days like these" and "Praying 4 a miracle" (the latter titled some 20 odd years before MSN and texting!), are primarily the work of John Wetton. "Days like these" is an upbeat, positive pop song but it lacks anything which might distinguish it from a number of similar Asia songs. "Praying?" is a fairly typical Wetton mid-paced power ballad.

The fact that "Then and now" was designed only to ensure the Asia name was still being promoted betrays the fact that this is an unsatisfactory collection. It is a cobbled together concoction of some of their most successful tracks, a couple of outtakes, and a pair of Wetton hand me downs. There is no denying the quality of the first five songs plus "Voice of America", but there are far better ways to obtain them than through this album. All the tracks here are now available on the "Anthologia" compilation.

* The current Liverpool football team operates a rotation system, which means that for over 90 consecutive games, the starting line up has been changed.

Review by Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions
2 stars This is an ASIA compilation with songs from the early 80's and 1990. Those three guys are heroes of prog and prog-related music. John Wetton has been a member of countless bands and projects.

This compilation is something like a hit collection of ASIA and some songs are really nice - f.e. 'Only time will tell' and 'Heat of the moment' which has been in the charts in 1982. But I wouldn't even say that this is prog-related - sometimes only simple Rock/Pop.

Wetton has had better days with Mogul Thrash, King Crimson or UK, Palmer of course with ELP. There is nothing more to say - this is only a recommendation for collectors ...

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
1 stars OK, I'm begging all of you. Stop enabling these guys!!!

It seemed like a good idea. Take members of some of the greatest prog bands ever, put them together, and see what you get. Well, what John Wetton did to U.K. at the end should have been a warning. In this case King Crimson + Yes + ELP = 0. This band makes me yearn for euthan-Asia. The famous review of GTR is appropraite for Asia's output.

There. I've gotten that off my chest.

Then & Now is a collection of songs released for the reunion of Wetton, Downes & Palmer for a tour in 1990. The first 5 songs are from the original incarnation of the band, and demonstrate why they needed Steve Howe. His guitar playing provided the only relief from songs that started out at best fair (Only Time Will Tell, Heat Of The Moment) and got progressively (get the joke?) worse.

The second half of the album, with a team of guitarists, headed by Steve Luthaker, is just intolerable. They should have been embarassed when recording clunkers like Prayin' 4 A Miracle (oooh, a number 4 instead of the word, how edgy), Am I In Love?, and Summer.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
1 stars A worst of compilation!

I normally never rate "best of"- compilations (or as in the present case a "worst of"- compilation), always preferring the original studio albums. However, when, and only when, such compilations have material that is not available on the band's regular albums, I will rate them. In this particular case the material not available elsewhere is very restricted, there are only four such songs here; Days Like These, Prayin' 4 A Miracle, Am I In Love? and Summer (Can't Last Too Long). All these songs are rather weak and hold little interest even for those who enjoy Asia's 80's albums. If you think that the band's two first albums are low on progressive content, you should compare with these songs! Steve Howe is sorely missed here.

The first half of the album consists of songs from the band's first two albums, Asia and Alpha. While I find these albums good but non-essential (three stars), they have here, not surprisingly, managed to pick some of the very worst songs from those albums. Only Time Will Tell and Wildest Dreams are not bad, but Heat Of The Moment and Don't Cry are clearly the most commercial and least Prog-related songs from these albums. The whole thing is ended by the worst song from the weak Astra album, Voice Of America. This song features one of the most boring choruses I have ever heard; "Voice of America, Oh, Oh, Oh, America"

Do yourself (and the band too) a favour and don't let this compilation be your introduction to Asia. Not even fans of the band will need this compilation unless they are completionists.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars This is pure awfulness. This is the only Asia release I ever had. I was expecting the best of the best. What I got was a collection of horrible 80s rock. If I had known that the two best songs here("Heat Of The Moment" and "Only Time Will Tell") were on the band's debut album, I would have just got that instead. At least I could have enjoyed some half decent non-singles, maybe.

As bad as the songs from the first two albums are, the newer songs are even worse. A lot of the music here sounds like a poppier Loverboy or a more rockin' Air Supply. This collection turned me off this band completely. In 1982 these guys forced an American band called Asia to "retire". What a-holes. These guys were clearly in it for the money. To quote Wetton: "You gotta have hits". Up yours. I honestly don't think Wetton, Howe, Palmer & Downes created any good music since the 1970s. Howe's solo stuff might be an exception(I've only heard his first two).

I like the part at the end of "Heat Of The Moment" where they sound like a group of teenagers in a garage trying to play a Henry Cow song. Maybe their only interesting musical moment. I will never know because I have no intention of listening to any of their albums. A shining example of everything wrong with mainstream rock music in the 1980s. 1 star.

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This is one of those controverted bands featured here in ProgArchives, because their music tends more to be under the pop-rock scene than the progressive rock one, despite it was formed by prog rock musicians. For some people, Asia was the first successful supergroup in musical history, for others, it was a project meant to earn millions of dollars, but anyway, they created themselves a career with some highs and lows, but they have prevailed in the hearts of their solid fan base.

I am not a fan of Asia, however, I do like some of their songs and have a special feeling towards their "Then & Now" compilation, because it was one of the first best-of-albums I ever bought, and sadly, one of the first I ever exchanged with a stranger. So as you can imagine, this album features some of the best known songs (a.k.a. hits) from the band, which was released in 1990, in a time when Asia themselves was changing.

So basically, what you will find here is a nice, maybe not necessary, but not bad compilation of AOR/prog-pop/rock/whatever music with 10 songs that range from 3-5 minutes. For a progressive rock fan it should be a pleasure to listen a band with Wetton, Palmer and Downes together (along with Howe, of course) but this might be disappointing. Songs that reached popular charts, songs that are well composed but have a truly catchy and poppy tendency, songs for a completely different audience. Some of the hits you will find here are "Only Time Will Tell", "Heat of the Moment", "Don't Cry" and "Am I in Love?" Songs that you might listen at a radio station, or if you prefer, in this CD/LP on your collection.

Enjoy it!

Review by patrickq
1 stars Then & Now is a 43-minute album which includes four new songs alongside six of Asia's 1982-1985 songs, including their three big hits.

I try to avoid accusing record labels of "money grabbing" when they release music in inconvenient or expensive packages intended to milk fans of their hard-earned money. After all, record labels are profit-driven and they generally don't consider ethics; certainly in the 1990s, record companies were milking consumers at every turn. Neil Strauss, in a 1995 New York Times article, referred to a "$16.98 list price" for "most CD's by established stars," a cost he said was "more than 100 times the cost of the materials used to manufacture it." Most retailers would initially sell a $16.98 CD for less when it was new, but "in the next few months," the price of that CD "will creep up $2 to $6 at most ... stores." (US$17 in 1995 is equivalent to more than $27.50 in 2019, but brand new CDs retail for much less today.)

Anyway, Then & Now was a ripoff even by 1990s standards. The "mini-album" wasn't as commonplace as it had been in the early 1980s (in the US market, anyway), but the CD "maxi-single" was emerging. It seems likely that Geffen Records could've made a profit from this material without combining it with half of a greatest-hits package. Compounding this issue is the fact that the new material on Then & Now was substandard.

Side One (the Then side) is comprised of "Only Time Will Tell," "Heat of the Moment," and "Wildest Dreams" from Asia's self-titled 1982 debut, and "Don't Cry" and "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes" from Alpha (1983). "Voice of America," from Astra (1985) is appended to the end of Side Two for some reason; I'm guessing that the reason was the group's inability to come up with a full side of new material. Another possibility is that, as an obscure song from a relatively poorly selling album, "Voice of America" might've snuck under the proverbial radar, appearing to be a new song.

Besides "Voice of America," the other four songs on the Now side were new recordings. The album's single, "Days Like These," was contributed by an outside songwriter - - a sign, perhaps, that Asia was hoping to target the same market as Bon Jovi or Aerosmith. Alas, there was very little room in this market by the summer of 1990, as grunge, "unplugged," and other modern/alternative rock genres were poised to deprive "classic rock" of much of its radio oxygen.

"Summer (Can't Last Too Long)" and "Am I in Love" are also pop-radio-friendly; only "Prayin' 4 a Miracle" (talk about a tone-deaf title!) sounds aimed specifically at AOR radio. "Prayin' 4" was written by lead singer and bassist John Wetton with Sue Shifrin (who had co-written hit singles for Heart, Tina Turner, and others). Also credited as a writer: Shifrin's then-husband, David Cassidy. Now don't get me wrong: there's nothing wrong, in my book, with outside songwriters or with trying to write hit songs. But I'm pointing out that Asia was changing direction - - a direction for which the band was ill-suited. Interestingly, when Asia had a #4 pop hit in 1982 - - from the number-one pop album of the year - - they'd done it completely on their own. Pop fans came to them, not the other way around.

With questions about the band's line-up, and with no additional new material on the horizon from the band, Geffen appears to have cut their losses by releasing this dud before dropping Asia from the label.

Then & Now is a poor album for a number of reasons. To summarize: it's a full-priced album whose four new songs would only appeal to people who already own the other six. And not only is the album a bona-fide money-grab, the 17 minutes of new material is of low quality.

P.S.: Then & Now was rendered completely redundant with the release of Anthologia: The 20th Anniversary / Geffen Years Collection (1982-90), which collected Asia, Alpha, and Astra; the b-sides from this period, and the four tracks from Then & Now.

Latest members reviews

4 stars This is not "The Best Of Asia... With new songs" but a sort of new start for Asia. The new version of Asia is the same original Asia without an axeman. So the axeman changes in almost every new song (Now side) but the first side (then) is the more Prog side. All the songs with Howe are good at ... (read more)

Report this review (#411429) | Posted by 1967/ 1976 | Saturday, March 5, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Then & Now is a collection of six old and four new songs. The old songs come from the debut (3), "Alpha" (2) and "Astra" (1). It's quite a representative set, but all albums have better songs included. So better stick with those. The four new songs are typical Wetton-Asia, which means you'll mo ... (read more)

Report this review (#148793) | Posted by Casartelli | Sunday, November 4, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A compilation of songs from the first three albums with the addition of four new songs. Only interesting if you don't own a copy of those first three albums... "Then" includes the archhits "Only Time Will Tell", "Heat Of The Moment", "Don't Cry" and "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes". Add "Wildest ... (read more)

Report this review (#71089) | Posted by zaxx | Saturday, March 4, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars In the 1990 the Asia returned and... Bingo! This LP contains the "Best Of..." of the previous LP and new songs. It not the temporal gap hears itself and I should say that this is almost the definitive LP of this group. Perhaps they exaggerate with the AOR in the new pieces (very commercial...) ... (read more)

Report this review (#53620) | Posted by | Thursday, October 27, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars there are only four new songs in this record. Bad songs, nothing to do with the past albums. Maybe Asia make a big mistake by having steve howe in the two first records. The new guitar players doesn´t have a good participation, any guitarist could do the work even better. Wetton, downes and pa ... (read more)

Report this review (#26802) | Posted by | Wednesday, March 16, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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