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

JOHN WETTON & GEOFFREY DOWNES: ICON II - RUBICON

John Wetton

 

Prog Related

3.42 | 25 ratings

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

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

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

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

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

progaeopteryx | 2/5 |

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