Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

ASIA

Prog Related • United Kingdom


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Asia picture
Asia biography
Founded in London, UK in 1981 - Hiatus between 1986-1989 - Still active as of 2018

ASIA were formed by Steve HOWE (YES), John WETTON (KING CRIMSON, URIAH HEEP, UK ETC.), Geoff DOWNES (YES, BUGGLES) and Carl PALMER (ELP). They were of course immediately dubbed a "supergroup" (in the way as CREAM, EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER etc. were). Over the years the line up has gone through constant changes, with DOWNES being the only founding member still present (although even he has not been ever present). Greg LAKE passed though the ranks briefly in 1983 replacing WETTON, but his voice did not suit the material, and he left before recording any studio albums with the band.

WETTON's return in 1984 resurrected previous conflicts with HOWE, who left to be replaced by Mandy METER (KROKUS). ASIA effectively ceased to exist between 1985 and 1987, when DOWNES and WETTON attempted to rekindle the flame. They recorded a few tracks together, but WETTON soon moved on again, and DOWNES started working with John PAYNE on alternative projects. In 1989, WETTON and PALMER got back together forming yet another line up with John YOUNG and Alan DARBY. The line up changes continued into the 1990's, with DOWNES soon rejoining and bringing in the since long serving John PAYNE. By 1991, the band still only released three studio albums. With the release of "Aqua" in 1992, there started a relatively settled period for ASIA in as much as the band became very much a DOWNES/PAYNE project, with other musicians being brought in for recording or touring as required. A reunion of the original line up appears to have almost happened in the late 1990's, but the momentum was lost, and it never materialised.

With such well known names in the original ASIA , expectations were high that the new band would produce high quality prog rock in it's truest form. ASIA however had different ideas, and went for a far more direct and commercial sound. The quality of the musicianship was undoubted, but many fans of the source bands were left disappointed by the self titled debut album. Commercially, the venture was enormously successful, with the band enjoying both singles and album chart suc...
read more

ASIA forum topics / tours, shows & news


ASIA forum topics Create a topic now
ASIA tours, shows & news Post an entries now

ASIA Videos (YouTube and more)


Showing only random 3 | Show all ASIA videos (3) | Search and add more videos to ASIA

Buy ASIA Music



More places to buy ASIA music online

ASIA discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

ASIA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.19 | 570 ratings
Asia
1982
2.85 | 354 ratings
Alpha
1983
2.57 | 265 ratings
Astra
1985
2.86 | 203 ratings
Aqua
1992
2.91 | 163 ratings
Aria
1994
3.34 | 171 ratings
Arena
1996
3.27 | 173 ratings
Aura
2000
3.10 | 160 ratings
Silent Nation
2004
3.21 | 204 ratings
Phoenix
2008
3.12 | 171 ratings
Omega
2010
2.98 | 159 ratings
XXX
2012
2.82 | 132 ratings
Gravitas
2014
2.74 | 44 ratings
Asia feat. John Payne: Recollections - A Tribute To British Prog
2014

ASIA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.79 | 60 ratings
Asia Live: 09-XI-90 Mocквa
1990
2.44 | 13 ratings
Now: Live In Nottingham
1997
2.09 | 11 ratings
Asia Live In Osaka
1997
1.20 | 13 ratings
Live In Koln
1997
2.13 | 12 ratings
Asia Live In Philadelphia
1997
3.15 | 7 ratings
Live At The Town & Country Club
1999
2.75 | 8 ratings
Live Acoustic
1999
3.13 | 12 ratings
Ensŏ' Kai (Live in Tokyo 1983)
2001
1.47 | 6 ratings
Alive In Hallowed Halls
2001
3.92 | 13 ratings
America - Live In The Usa
2002
5.00 | 1 ratings
Live at Budokan
2002
2.21 | 5 ratings
Dragon Attack
2003
2.28 | 8 ratings
Live in Buffalo
2003
2.13 | 4 ratings
Live in Hyogo
2003
1.61 | 6 ratings
Live in Massachusetts '83
2004
0.00 | 0 ratings
Live in the UK - Vol. 1
2006
2.63 | 7 ratings
Live in Nottingham
2007
3.64 | 59 ratings
Fantasia - Live in Tokyo
2007
3.43 | 7 ratings
Extended Versions
2007
3.26 | 12 ratings
Spirit Of The Night - The Phoenix Tour Live In Cambridge 2009
2010
1.33 | 3 ratings
Live Around the World
2010
2.62 | 15 ratings
Resonance (The Omega Tour 2010)
2012
4.00 | 1 ratings
Under the Bridge
2012
3.00 | 10 ratings
High Voltage: Live
2014
4.00 | 2 ratings
Live in America
2015
2.69 | 13 ratings
Axis XXX Live in San Francisco
2015
3.15 | 7 ratings
Symfonia - Live in Bulgaria 2013
2017
3.33 | 3 ratings
Aurora
2021
4.50 | 2 ratings
Asia in Asia - Live at the Budokan, Tokyo 1983
2022

ASIA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.16 | 24 ratings
Asia In Asia (VHS)
1984
2.36 | 14 ratings
Classic Rock Legends (DVD)
2001
2.20 | 17 ratings
Live In Moscow 1990 (DVD)
2003
3.22 | 17 ratings
America: Live in the USA (DVD)
2003
3.71 | 40 ratings
Fantasia - Live In Tokyo (DVD)
2007
3.60 | 10 ratings
Spirit Of The Night - The Phoenix Tour - Live in Cambridge 2009
2010
2.00 | 1 ratings
Access All Areas
2015

ASIA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.51 | 67 ratings
Then & Now
1990
2.18 | 40 ratings
Archiva 1
1996
1.88 | 40 ratings
Archiva 2
1996
3.04 | 8 ratings
Anthology: The Best Of Asia
1997
2.63 | 20 ratings
Rare
1999
3.44 | 20 ratings
Anthology
1999
3.07 | 9 ratings
Axioms
1999
2.33 | 3 ratings
Archives - The Best Of Asia 1988-1997
2000
2.88 | 22 ratings
Heat of the Moment: The Very Best of Asia 1982-1990
2000
3.15 | 4 ratings
The Collection
2000
0.00 | 0 ratings
Quadra
2002
3.34 | 25 ratings
Asia - Anthologia - 20th Anniversary Geffen Years Collection 1982-1990
2002
3.79 | 19 ratings
Gold
2005
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Heat of the Moment - Golden Hits Live in Concert
2005
2.40 | 10 ratings
Archiva 1 & 2
2005
4.00 | 3 ratings
The Collection
2016
5.00 | 1 ratings
The Reunion Albums 2007-2012
2021

ASIA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.13 | 9 ratings
Only Time Will Tell
1982
3.88 | 6 ratings
Heat of the Moment
1982
3.00 | 1 ratings
Sole Survivor
1982
3.17 | 6 ratings
Don't Cry
1983
2.22 | 12 ratings
Aurora (EP)
1986
3.00 | 6 ratings
Long Way From Home
2005
2.31 | 10 ratings
Asia featuring John Payne - Military Man (EP)
2009

ASIA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Alpha by ASIA album cover Studio Album, 1983
2.85 | 354 ratings

BUY
Alpha
Asia Prog Related

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Words like "commercial" and "corporate" are slung at Asia a lot, and sometimes it's unfair and sometimes it isn't. One respect in which you can get them bang to rights when it comes to compromising their music for corporate reasons, however, comes to the songwriting on Alpha: the record company had noticed that the big hit singles on their debut album were all Wetton/Downes numbers, and so asked that Wetton and Downes write all the material here.

Thus it is that all the songs on Alpha are credited to the duo, bar for The Smile Has Left Your Eyes, which John Wetton penned by himself. This, of course, leaves Steve Howe and Carl Palmer almost on the level of session musicians, which might go some way to explaining why Howe didn't come back for the next album. Carl did, but Carl only had one songwriting credit on the debut anyway, so perhaps he was just happy to be there.

Not only did Howe have songwriting credits on about half the songs on the debut album, but they were fairly consistently the songs which had a bit more of a commercial spin and a bit less space for proggy moments, and that's exactly what the record company wanted here. Inevitably, the result is that the band's carefully-tuned prog-hard rock- pop blend ended up a little skewed away from the prog corner of that triangle.

If you're a listener who despised Heat of the Moment or Only Time Will Tell and regarded the proggier moments of the debut album as an oasis in a desert, then you'll likely find this boring. For my part, I find this at least an enjoyable blend of AOR and prog-tinged pop which benefits to an extent from a more unified musical direction behind it, even as it loses a little something as a result of losing the full range of flavours previously offered.

As a result, it's in a "one step forward, one step back" sort of situation: it's another enjoyable listen, but I'm not sure that I'm keen on listening on all that much Asia beyond this and the debut, and it's certainly a harder sell for fans of the four founder members' prog pasts than their debut was.

 Asia by ASIA album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.19 | 570 ratings

BUY
Asia
Asia Prog Related

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars What an oddity this was. Asia's debut album is called "Asia" but has nothing to do with that continent, and finds four prog guys showing a near-total disinterest in sounding like the prog of the 1970s, offering up instead a slick pop-rock album with just enough touches of art rock and progressive pop to feel prog-adjacent.

Let's do an audit of who's here: Carl Palmer's onboard, but this neither has the ferocity of his old stomping ground in Atomic Rooster or the classical complexity of his ELP heyday. Carl, in fact, is only credited as a co-writer on one song, Time Again, which is credited to all four members, and in general there's not much that's ELP-ish here in terms of actual compositional approach and style, though at some moments (like the outro to Cutting It Fine) the band do a fine job of attaining the same mood of gravitas that ELP were able to hit in their most serious moments even if the method by which they get there is a little different. (Fundamentally, Geoff Downes is not Keith Emerson and doesn't pretend to be.)

In general however, the only sustained ELP-ish note I detect here is John Wetton's singing, since his style has a similar sort of stentorian tone to the one Greg Lake would use in ELP's more serious moments. Indeed, when John left the band for the first time in 1983 - returning for the Astra album later on - Greg filled in for him on a few live dates, and though I haven't heard any recordings of him with Asia I imagine he'd have been a fairly natural fit.

Indeed, if Greg was the least engaged of the band when it came to the songwriting here, John Wetton was the most - he's got a writing credit on every single track - and whilst there isn't really anything all that King Crimson-ish about the material here, I think you can sort of see Asia as the logical conclusion of the musical trajectory that Wetton followed from the end of Red-era King Crimson via UK. One could imagine the Danger Money-era UK having a stab at Wildest Dreams or Cutting It Fine, for instance, because whilst that project's debut album was an unabashed prog-fusion workout, Danger Money was a bit more interested in throwing in a few pop hooks here and there. If you set the proggiest moments here next to the poppiest moments of UK, the distance isn't all that great.

Rounding out the quartet are two refugees from some Yes drama - Steve Howe and Geoff Downes, to be specific. Howe's co-writing credits tend to be associated with the less poppy numbers here, but the material isn't really that Yes-like - or, rather, it isn't like anything Yes had preivously produced. (Howe's former bandmates would enter the studio to make 90125 about 8 months after this was released, and the influence of this release on their change of direction is noticeable.)

No, of the two Yes men here it's Geoff Downes who seems to have the stronger influence - Geoff's got songwriting credits on about two thirds of the album, and nearly half the songs are Downes/Wetton collaborations. This includes the biggest hits - Heat of the Moment and Only Time Will Tell - which probably explains why all but one of the songs on Alpha are Wetton/Downes pieces (and the exception was written solo by Wetton - The Smile Has Left Your Eyes). Rather than making Asia "Drama 2.0", Downes instead uses the same knack for pop hooks he used to such good effect in the Buggles, with the result that Video Killed the Radio Star is closer to the material on here than, say, Machine Messiah.

The sequencing of the album makes no bones about using the hooky pop numbers to lure you in before treating you to some of the more progressive material. If you're a prog purist, you'll likely be turned off the album before you get to the meatier stuff - but if you enjoy smarter-than-average AOR, it's rather good, and if you want to argue that it's nothing but empty pop rock you clearly didn't pay attention to the whole thing: I defy anyone to listen to Cutting It Fine and say it isn't a damn fine pocket epic, cramming into just over 5 minutes more ideas than some prog outfits manage in 20. The production on this has admittedly dated somewhat - it would have sounded absolutely futuristic on its first release, but some of those 1980s production techniques haven't lasted the test of time as well as others - but otherwise I'd say it's a fine release and certainly no embarrassment to any of the participants. Is it as good as the best of ELP, Yes, the Buggles, King Crimson, or UK? No - but you can miss that target and still be damn good.

 Access All Areas by ASIA album cover DVD/Video, 2015
2.00 | 1 ratings

BUY
Access All Areas
Asia Prog Related

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
2 stars I ordered this fairly cheap item of the Edsel Records' series Access All Areas CD+DVD without knowing the actual content in advance. Sometimes in the nineties, when Asia didn't much matter to me anymore (their 1982 debut had been among my earliest vinyl infatuations at the tender age of 12 or 13 when I started listening to the vinyls of my big brother and big sister), I temporarily had the CD of the live in Moscow '90, with which I thought this one to be rather similar. So, I knew not to expect very much in the sonic sense (largely because of the absence of Steve Howe on guitars), but I was slightly hoping the track list in the similar manner to contain some non-Asia songs such as King Crimson's 'Starless' or 'Book of Saturday', in vain.

This is the very same live set as the cd titled Now: Live in Nottingham (released in 1997), recorded in Central Television's Nottingham studios in June 1990. Guillermo writes in his two-star album review that "[Pat] Thrall is a good guitarist in his own style, which is predominantly a Heavy Metal style, and almost all the time he is playing a distorted guitar, and also playing the songs without adding some parts that Howe played in the albums. Howe used more varied sounds for his guitars in Asia, but Thrall was playing with the same sound most of the time." Exactly. Once you get over that, to the whatever-possible degree anyway, you can enjoy the fairly nice if also pretty predictable set of 13 songs in roughly 62 minutes. From the debut it contains 'Wildest Dreams', 'Sole Survivor', 'Time Again', Only Time Will Tell' and the obvious hit 'Heat of the Moment'.

'Don't Cry', 'The Smile Has Left Your Eyes', 'The Heat Goes On' and the gig-ending 'Open Your Eyes' originate from the second album Alpha (1983). 'Voice of America' and 'Go' are from Astra (1985) in which Mandy Meier replaced Howe on guitar. Two songs in this set were at the time new ones appearing on the compilation Then & Now (1990): 'Prayin' 4 A Miracle' and 'Days Like These'. I had no recollection of hearing them before, though it's possible that I've sometimes listened through the compilation, and unsurprisingly I wasn't much impressed by them.

As said, sonically the performances are inferior to what the original line-up would make them. Thrall is definitely not Howe, despite looking a bit like a blonde, more handsome and younger version of that old geezer. He smiles most of the quartet and therefor seems actually rather sympathetic on stage. He and Geoff Downes wear black leather clothes almost like something from the original Dune movie. Sadly it must be said that the band doesn't seem to have much of a contact to the audience, despite the small-looking standing venue. They just concentrate playing the songs faithfully to the studio versions. And there really isn't much to say about the visual side of the show. Spotlight rows with some variation in colours. Multi-angle camera work is OK, offering close-ups of each member.

This is worth the money if you don't expect too much of it. Liner notes also give a good picture of the band's early history. For a newcomer or a casual listener this set might easily replace a Greatest Hits sort of compilation, but for more advanced listeners it's notably less recommendable as a live DVD (or CD) than especially Fantasia - Live in Tokyo (2007) featuring the reunited original line-up of Wetton, Downes, Howe and Palmer.

 Asia by ASIA album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.19 | 570 ratings

BUY
Asia
Asia Prog Related

Review by Putonix24

4 stars There is some kind of negative perception if progressive musicians make pop and commercial music, as you can see, there is some backlash regarding the 80s transformation that Genesis and Yes had, trading their awesome and weird long compositions for radio hits, which I don't consider bad at all, I love prog, experimental and avant-garde, but sometimes I want to listen to some shorter and poppy songs, but never sacrificing musicianship and quality.

Asia, despite being a supergroup with members of ELP, King Crimson and Yes, it sounds nothing like those groups (only a bit of Yes really), there is no Crimson- disonances, excesive and classical showmanship like ELP or mystic soundscapes like Yes, instead you have short radio hits that are easy to listen and to remember, with kinda cheesy lyrics that appeal to a mainstream audience.

Anyways, the members are what make the group, Geoff Downes still retains a more controlled style compared to Rick Wakeman, but Geoff shines more in this record than in Yes's "Drama", Steve Howe does not overplay like in Yes and he is more in the background, but still gives some good guitar leads. John Wetton's voice is maybe the more accesible and selling point of the band, as his voice is masculine and anthemic, just perfect for the hits of the record, unlike Greg Lake which had a great voice but sounded to solemn and sacred to appear in the radio. The weakest links in the Asia chain are John Wetton's bass which does not play anything interesting, and Carl Palmer whose drumming is far from what he did with ELP, those two aspects would have been easily filled by even not prog musicians.

"Heat Of The Moment" is a great hit, with catchy and memorable choruses by the voice of John Wetton, and "Only Time Will Tell" is prog only in the surface, but it is catchy and also really good. "Sole Survivor" has some lame lyrics but the music still it's pretty good.

The album falls short with "One Step Closer", I don't really like the vocals and the lyrics, it is not even good soft rock.

"Time Again" sounds at times like "Machine Messiah" from Steve Howe and Geoff Downes's latest Yes album Drama, but gets somewhat repetitive.

The following tracks are somewhat between pop, prog and soft rock, but mostly going in the soft side really, but the record recovers in "Here Comes The Feeling", still, some cheesy lyrics but great music, actually this song is the most Yes-like song, and if Jon Anderson had singed this, it would sound even better.

Overall, it's a good commercial and accesible record, but if you want a fusion of ELP, Yes and King Crimson and lots of complexity, you would be dissapointed. Still, good music considering the 80s and radio airplay it still has to this day.

 Alpha by ASIA album cover Studio Album, 1983
2.85 | 354 ratings

BUY
Alpha
Asia Prog Related

Review by Dapper~Blueberries

4 stars Supergroups are an interesting breed of bands. They come from different bands, sometimes one band, sometimes multiple. Bands like ELP and A Perfect Circle are great examples with the lead singers coming from different but extremely popular bands, Greg Lake in King Crimson, and Maynard Keenan from TOOL. However supergroups, despite having members from bands of differing genres, might not have the same genres as those bands with their members. One such example is Asia with Steve Howe from Yes, John Wetton from King Crimson, Geoff Downes also from Yes, and Carl Palmer from ELP. I always wanted to get into this band at some point, so when I found this album at a record store, I decided to get it too see what Asia was like.

The first song 'Don't Cry' kickstart this album. It is a cool and crisp song with beautiful synths, vocals, and some great guitar and drumming. Don't Cry sets a sort of standard for this album with the second track 'The Smile Has Left Your Eyes' continuing these trends, however establishing their own sort of flow and rhythms too them, however each song seems too do it better and better every time. Each song from My Own Time, The Goes On, and Eye To Eye continues these themes both lyrically and sound wise. Speaking of lyrics, most of the songs here are more focused on love and were written by Wetton and Downes on all of the tracks. I just thought that was neat. However my least favorite track here is True Colors. It still establishes the themes of Don't Cry too The Last To Know but it something about it kinda makes it forgettable, but after that song is over we got the awesome Midnight Sun that leads to the amazing last track Open Your Eyes.

So basically while having a more commercial and 80s sound, it is still an awesome record. Heck I don't really mind the 80s sorta sound too it, I think it actually makes the album sound cooler. Despite not being perfect I still enjoyed this record.

 XXX by ASIA album cover Studio Album, 2012
2.98 | 159 ratings

BUY
XXX
Asia Prog Related

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I must say that I was surprised by this one. Considering the low rating I saw here I was expecting something not as good as their last two ones, I mean, those when the original line up got back together in 2006. Instead I found myself enjoying this one more than 2010 Omega. Of course I was not expecting anything progressive here, that was never Asias goal since the very beginning I was looking for the great mixture of pop/AOR/symphonic sound they became famous for. And I got it. There is no denying that their songwriting here is top notch and the songs are great for what they are. Who else is doing this kind of material with such quality, tastefulness and inspiration? For an album commemorating 30 years since their debut, they sound fresh, exciting and in top form.

All the tracks are excellent and the production is beautiful. The melodies are exquisite and the harmonies soar. I heard they wanted to do group songs and not individual skills when they formed. Iīm glad to see they still can do it, that one for all all for one feeling. No frills, no unnecessary technique displays. Just songs. Steve Howe for example shows how to be subtle and genial at the same time. He and the others have nothing to prove, so they are now working for the tunes.

Itīs a shame that Howe left the group in 2013 to concentrate with his work with Yes and his solo career. Their chemistry together is unique. And with Wettonīs passing we will never see the original line up again, but this album is a great bookend for this much maligned, but great band. If you like Asia in particular, or melodic music in general, I strong recommend this album.

Rating: maybe I should give it 3,5 stars, since this is a prog site and there is not much prog in here, but the aforementioned quality of the songs and the extraordinaire performance of all involved makes it above mere good. 4 stars rounded.

 Asia by ASIA album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.19 | 570 ratings

BUY
Asia
Asia Prog Related

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars When I first read about Asia, I was quite excited, as were many prog geeks at the time, that John Wetton, Steve Howe and Carl Palmer (Geoff Downes never impressed me as much of a progressive legend) were going to create a new band. I also knew way before the album was released that it was going to be a radio-friendly prog band, so I wasn't as disappointed as some when I first heard it. I was, however, in Italy during this time, and, even though I kept up on the music news everywhere, I was trying to immerse myself in the Italian music and culture as much as possible, so I never heard the debut Asia album until I returned to the states.

It was pretty much what I expected being warned that it was a radio-friendly band in advance. I was glad to see that it was quite popular and that some of these prog-gods were able to get some recognition, even with prog mostly being pushed out of the music scene at the time. So, that made me revere this album more than it deserved to be as far as being progressive, however, I do recognize still the excellence it had as far as a pop album. The problem I had with it, of course, was both because of it's commercial appeal and a lot of the songs were structured too similarly for my liking. However, there were songs that stood out from the sameness that was apparent.

I still listen to this album and enjoy it from time to time and the interesting thing is, my favorite tracks from this album are still the same ones that they were when I first heard the album. My favorites here are the ones that are a bit different from the norm, namely "One Step Closer", "Wildest Dreams", and "Cutting it Fine" with nods to "Soul Survivor" and "Without You". The remainder of the album however, tends to wash out the highlights of the album with it's sameness and poppiness. However, it's still good enough to make me want to still retain it on vinyl, so this album is one of those strange oddities in my collection, sort of that love it/hate it relationship.

For me, it has it's importance in history, but it's intentional AOR feel keeps it from being a big favorite. It's more of an album I would listen to for the best tracks and the rest of it I just tolerate. But, even the best tracks on the album won't go down in my archives as all-time favorites. It's good, just not quite excellent, especially in a progressive attitude, but as far as its place in popularity, it can't be denied that it is one of the better commercial albums of the early 80s.

 Asia by ASIA album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.19 | 570 ratings

BUY
Asia
Asia Prog Related

Review by MaxPap

4 stars Asia is one of those 80's albums I found in my dad's small remaining LP collection. He also has Alpha, the second album of the band. He always found the cover of these two records impressive and just straight-up beautiful. And it's true, Roger Dean is a great painter. I'm sure these great covers attracted some people into buying the album back in 1982.

Although Asia is a supergroup composed of 4 well-known prog members (Steve Howe from Yes ; John Wetton from King Crimson ; Geoff Downes from Yes ; and Carl Palmer from ELP), the band itself is not very progressive. It followed the 80's music movement and from the first song, you can easily tell it's a 80's prog-pop style of music. You have to know this before trying the album, as I know some people here got VERY disappointed upon the first couple of songs.

But Asia is not an album that's entirely pop. Some songs (Time Again, Wildest Dreams, Cutting It Fine) contain brilliant passages. You also have the pop classics (Heat of the Moment, Only Time Will Tell), classic love songs but are somewhat enjoyable nonetheless. I personally love the upbeat feeling that "One Step Closer" has.

I won't go into much further detail. If you can tolerate something more simple than general prog, chances are you'll love this album. It's simple, but simple done well.

 Aqua by ASIA album cover Studio Album, 1992
2.86 | 203 ratings

BUY
Aqua
Asia Prog Related

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

2 stars I'm not sure whether Asia needed Steve Howe more than Steve Howe needed Asia in 1992. Howe was out of Yes for the second time, and Asia had lost vocalist-bassist John Wetton. Wetton had been replaced at the end of 1983, but returned a few months later. Howe, of course, was Asia's original lead guitarist, and had played on their two hit albums in 1982 and 1983. His ouster in 1984 was supposedly a condition of Wetton's return.

To everyone's surprise, Asia's 1982 debut album was a huge hit, topping the year-end surveys of both Cashbox and Billboard in the US. But each subsequent album was less successful than its predecessor; the group's 1990 record missed the top 100 entirely. By 1992 Asia was in serious decline. But at that point Howe, who had missed out on Yes's blockbuster 90125 in 1983, was unemployed again after having returned to Yes from 1991 to early 1992.

Confusing things further (at least for me), Howe appears on about half of Aqua and co-wrote just one of the songs (as he had on Alpha, his last album with the group). Howe was part of the tour promoting Aqua, but was billed as a "special guest."

Anyway, it's nice to have Howe back, but his presence isn't enough to save Aqua The opening song, "Aqua I," is Howe's showcase. He can be heard here and there on the remainder of the record, but at least half of the lead guitars are played by Al Pitrelli, and I doubt Howe played anything but leads on Aqua.

There are flashes of splendor scattered throughout the album; in particular, segments of "Heaven and Earth" and "Voice of Reason" are very good, as is the album's lone single, "Who Will Stop the Rain," which is easily my favorite Asia song from the Payne-Downes era. Beyond this, Aqua is underwhelming early-1990s AOR.

I must confess that I haven't listened to every Asia album. The first two were good, but the other three I've heard - - Astra (1985), Aqua, and the final Payne-Downes album, Silent Nation (2004) - - are two-star albums. But of these three, Aqua is the strongest. If you've heard the group's first two efforts and are still interested, of if you're curious to hear what the group sounded like with John Payne as its lead singer, Aqua might be for you.

 Asia by ASIA album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.19 | 570 ratings

BUY
Asia
Asia Prog Related

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

3 stars As a concept, Asia has been widely derided, at least since the group started to fall apart sometime after their second album. Greg Lake, himself briefly a member in 1983, characterized the concept as "corporate." And there certainly is something corporate about the group itself and their debut album. But I'm not sure exactly what it is.

Maybe it's the vocal sound. It's a chant that's equal parts Yes and Kiss. It's monolithic, not unlike a board of directors speaking with one emphatic voice that is not to be questioned. Kind of corporate.

Or maybe it was the band's instant success. The sales expectations for Asia might have been similar to those of early 1980s albums by U.K., Rainbow, etc.; in other words, decent, but not top-ten in the US. John Wetton's voice had never been on a hit single. None of these guys had any kind of star appeal. Why did Asia hit the jackpot? (OK, to be fair, Journey's Escape, released a year prior to Asia's debut LP, was a smash, hitting #1 for one week in the US and winding up as the #5 album of 1981. Asia was #1 for nine weeks and was the #1 album of the year. On the other hand, Escape had three top ten singles, compared to one for Asia. Anyway, Escape was the second album produced by Mike Stone, and Asia was the third. So some Geffen Records execs might have expected at least a Top Forty album.)

Then there's the fact that Asia was a supergroup assembled by a record company's A&R people. Definitely sounds corporate. Prior supergroups - - like Cream, Blind Faith, and Crosby, Stills and Nash - - are looked at differently because they're believed to have emerged organically. Sounds like a fair belief. Of course, it's possible that the members of Asia might've found each other without A&R people.

But it took more than A&R mechanisms to make Asia a hit. The fact is, the album is full of catchy art-rock (or art-pop if you'd like). The hits - - "Heat of the Moment" and "Only Time Will Tell" - - still sound fresh (to me, anyway), with "Sole Survivor" and "Here Comes the Feeling" nearly as strong. I'll also mention the almost jazzy "Time Again," the most "prog" sounding track here.

But the real gem is one I've never heard on the radio, and one which I haven't seen on a greatest-hits album: "One Step Closer." It's a charming duet sung in harmony by lead vocalist and bassist John Wetton and guitarist Steve Howe. Keyboardist Geoff Downes also adds both a nice lead vamp and a complimentary rhythm part to the verses. "One Step Closer" is a bit oddly placed, coming after "Sole Survivor," which might be the heaviest song on the album. But it seems like Asia is sequenced from most to least commercial. The four longest songs make up Side Two of the vinyl LP, and the first three of these ("Wildest Dreams," "Without You," and "Cutting It Fine") are definitely the album cuts. "Here Comes the Feeling" closes things out with a return to a slightly poppier sound during its chorus.

For whatever reasons, CD issues of Asia haven't included "Ride Easy," a harmless Wetton-Howe song that was originally released as the b-side of many issues of "Heat of the Moment" in 1982. Nonetheless, the song has been released by Geffen on several Asia collections.

Overall, the performances on Asia are very good, with some especially strong playing by Howe throughout. The rhythm section of Wetton and drummer Carl Palmer is solid, though neither is virtuosic. With Howe playing a lot of lead parts and Wetton rarely carrying the melody, Downes is often the key instrumentalist, a role for which he's well suited. My only complaint is that Wetton needs to strain to hit some of the lead-vocal notes.

Thanks to Stone, the production is excellent; Asia has a better sound than nearly any record I've heard from 1982.

Despite the quality of this album and of Alpha (1983), the group's sophomore effort, Asia will probably always be viewed with suspicion by many prog-rock fans. After all, this is corporate, commercial rock. But it's also a good collection of art-rock songs.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.