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Asia - XXX CD (album) cover




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2.98 | 159 ratings

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3 stars It's a very good album for a change...

Musically, I have never considered any album of Asia as a masterpiece even though my colleagues who like the kind of AOR music always put Asia as their main preference in daily playlist. Yes, they are those who know Genesis from Invincible Touch or Mama albums or know Yes from 90125 album. So in this case I admire their love to Asia albums. In their terms: "Music is an entertainment - why bother listening any complex composition like Karn Evil 9 or Gates of Delirium ? They are too complex to understand and require some thinking to digest. While music like Asia or Journey are straightforward and entertaining ....". Having known this background which is quite different with me who have been bombarded with prog since teenagers, I fully understand their standpoint. So, when I got together with them I could talk about this album as well.

If we look back the reason why Asia was originally established as a pathway for the progheads (especially Wetton, Palmer, Howe) express their musical ideas in much straightforward compositions, working together with Geoff Downes, we could not expect their output as prog as their origins in prog sphere. Put it another way, if hey create another prog compositions they would face head-to-head competition with their original band: King Crimson, ELP or Yes. And I was almost in that blunder when they were about to create the debut that I expected something like Crimson-ELP-Yes music. I was wrong and bit disappointed at first spin. But when I wiped out all my thinking about who play the music, then I started to enjoy Wildest Dreams, Time Again, Cutting It Fine etc. especially during a moment when I needed a change.

So is the case with this third album of the original line-up after reunited in 2008: I did not label this new album marked as XXX (30th anniversary) as prog album. By doing so, I felt relax when I first listened to the excellent opening track "Tomorrow The World". Wow! I like this song from the perspective of straight forward and simple rock music. Geoff Downes proves himself as melody maker as this opening track is characterized mainly by his keyboard sounds that are simple and most importantly "memorable". Anyone who listens to this song the first time would definitely repeat this keyboard shots as the notes are simple but nice. And ...this one has a very good and positive lyrics: "Tomorrow the world will seem a little clearer. The planets align, and all will be revealed" ... Oh man ... I love it! Oh by the way, I also love Steve Howe's guitar work. He plays excellently!

"Bury Me In Willow" (6:01) might be considered as straight pop rock tune like Toto in relatuvely slow tempo while its successor "No Religion" (6:36) has an uptempo style with some soft guitar riffs. It then flows nicely to another slow and nice "Faithful" (5:37). The next "I Know How You Feel" (4:53) is a melodic ballad in the vein of Supertramp especially when I look at the piano work. It's an enjoyable track. All other tracks are in similar vein and all of them are enjoyable for me. "Ghost Of A Chance" (4:21) has a great harmonies of Howe' acoustic guitar work, Downes piano as well as Wetton vocal. I like this last track very much. Mine has two bonus track which are really good: "I Know How You Feel" in midnight mix with really great Howe's acoustic guitar solo and the orchestra version of "Faithful".

In non-prog moments, it's a very good album

Well, yeah ...! I have to say this is a very good one to have if we really cut-off the prog label from the music. Composition-wise, this album is solid, offering us the various streams of melodies and harmonies throughout all tracks featured here combined altogether with good lyrical verses. If you are not in the mood of prog music, I would consider you to spin this one as it's entertaining and it has top notch sonic production. Don't miss it! Even though the debut album is still my fav Asia album of all-time, I also think this one is recommended. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Gatot | 3/5 |


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