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John Wetton - John Wetton & Geoffrey Downes: Icon CD (album) cover


John Wetton


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3.01 | 40 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
2 stars The smile has left their eyes

John Wetton and Geoff Downes first worked together in Asia in the early 80's. Icon is the result of a new collaborative project by the two men. This is hardly the kind of music that will blow the average Prog fan away, but we have here a mostly fine set of songs in the typical Asia/John Wetton tradition. The Icon projects, like Asia's albums, are primarily song dominated and do not involve many instrumental sections or solos. However, there are some tasteful keyboards and guitars throughout the album. On guitars we find none other than John Mitchell from Arena who is also a member of John Wetton's backing band (as can be seen on the excellent live DVD Amorata). Mitchell is a very talented guitarist, but in Icon's music he is not allowed to express himself quite like he does on Arena's albums. On Icon, guitar plays only a supporting role behind the dominating keyboards and vocals.

The distinctive vocals of John Wetton are strong and Downes keyboards are competent and sound more timeless compared to the sound he had in Asia and Yes in the 80's. The keyboards are often just piano and some symphonic synthesiser. There are even some discrete classic sounds like Melotron and organ! The sound of Icon is more organic compared to that of Asia due to the inclusion of some acoustic instruments like acoustic guitars and violin on some songs. Icon leans heavily towards the ballad side of things and the type of songs involved here are often similar to Asia songs like The Smile Has Left Her Eyes. The album would have benefited greatly from a harder edge and couple more of the up tempo songs. Most of these songs sound quite similar to each other and in the end not enough diversity is displayed. Towards the middle the album tends to lose its momentum. The lyrics are not quite as banal as things like Heat Of The Moment or Don't Cry, but I still find some of the lyrics objectionably generic.

The closing track features a guest vocal by Annie Haslam from Renaissance and some very tasteful flutes. In The End is a good song, but it is too late to save the album from being somewhat below good despite very competent song writing and performance. Therefore, I can recommend this first Icon album primarily to fans and collectors of Asia and John Wetton. If you like the ballad side of Asia and John Wetton's solo career, you will not be disappointed by Icon.

The second Icon album would be a large improvement over this first attempt in my opinion. Only two (and a half) stars for Icon #1, however.

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |


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