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Asia - XXX CD (album) cover




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2.98 | 159 ratings

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Symphonic Team
2 stars Still chasing that elusive pearl 30 years later

The four original members of Asia surprised us in 2006 when they reunited and went on a world tour. Their first post-reunion release was an excellent live album and video called Fantasia - Live In Tokyo. That live recording was full of passion and energy and boasted a truly impressive set list including not only all the tracks from their eponymous debut album but also songs by Yes, King Crimson, and ELP. I dare say that the original Asia had never been better!

They followed this up with a new studio album in 2008. The high expectations set by the Fantasia DVD made Phoenix a slightly underwhelming experience, but it still holds up well in comparison with the band's three 80's albums. Another tour followed, and another live DVD was recorded, but they seem to have dropped the Yes, King Crimson, and ELP songs from the set list (?).

Yet another studio album followed in Omega, but this one fell ever farther short of expectations. At this point, Asia seemed to once again have settled into the rut in which they found themselves in the late 80's and early 90's (before John Payne saved the band). Whatever adventurous spirit that could be found on Fantasia and (to a lesser degree on) Phoenix was gone at this point.

Now, here is the third post-reunion studio album XXX (triple-X) and I must say that it is once again a disappointment. While it is a slight improvement over Omega, it is still a lame effort by what seems to be four tired and uninspired old men. Wetton and Downs once again dominate the proceedings while Howe and Palmer stay mostly in the background. The tracks are on average longer this time which initially spurred my interest, but sadly this extra time is rarely used for something interesting and the songs often feel overlong. For those who know the band, there are absolutely no surprises to be found here.

The good news is that the other version of Asia; Asia featuring John Payne has a new studio album in the making. There is every reason to believe that it will be better than XXX. One could perhaps hope that the competition will motivate the original members to better themselves, but if not maybe it is time to retire?

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |


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