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PROG RELATED

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Prog Related definition



No musical genre exists in a vacuum. Not all of the bands that have been a part of the history and development of progressive rock are necessarily progressive rock bands themselves. This is why progarchives has included a genre called prog-related, so we could include all the bands that complete the history of progressive rock, whether or not they were considered full-fledged progressive rock bands themselves.

There are many criteria that the prog-related evaluation team considers when deciding which bands are considered prog-related. Very few bands will meet all of this criteria, but this list will give an idea as to some of the things that help evaluate whether an artists is prog-related or not.

1) Influence on progressive rock - The groundbreaking work of artists like Led Zepplin and David Bowie affected many genres of rock, including at times progressive rock. Although both of these artists created rock music in a dizzying array of genres, both contributed to the ongoing history of progressive rock several times within the span of their careers.

2) Location - Progressive rock did not develop at the same time all over the world. It may surprise some people that as late as the mid-70s the US had very few original progressive rock bands that did not sound like exact copies of British bands. Journey was one of the first US bands to present a uniquely American brand of prog-rock before they eventually became a mainstream rock band. We have collaborators from all over the world who tell us which bands helped the progressive rock scene develop in their corner of the globe, even if those bands were like Journey and were known more for being mainstream rock bands.

3) Members of important progressive rock bands - Although most of the recorded solo output of artists like Greg Lake and David Gilmour falls more in a mainstream rock style, their contributions to progressive rock in their respective bands insures them a place in our prog-related genre.

4) Timeliness - Like many genres, prog-rock has had its ups and downs. In the late 70s and early 80s prog-rock was barely a blip on the radar. During this time artists such as David Bowie and Metallica released albums that captured key elements of the spirit of prog rock and did so while contributing their own original modern elements to the mix.

5) Integral part of the prog-rock scene - Sometimes you just had to be a part of the scene during a certain time period to understand how some bands fit with the prog rock scene of their time. Although Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Wishbone Ash may seem like mere hard rock bands, in their time they stood apart from other hard rockers with their more serious lyrical content and more developed compositions. Put simply, in the early 70s every prog-rock record collector usually had full collections of all three of these artists. These three bands were very much part of the prog-rock scene without being total prog-rock bands them selves.

6) Influenced by progressive rock - From the late 60s till about 1976 the progressive tendency was in full effect in almost all genres of music. Once again, as we enter the second decade of the 21st century a melting pot of prog-metal, math-rock, progressive electronics and post-rock influences have once again made a progressive tendency in rock music almost more a norm than a difference. Yet in other periods of musical history receiving influence from progressive rock could really set a band apart and make them worthy of our prog-related category.
Being influenced by progressive rock is hardly the only factor we look at, and in some periods of musical history it is almost meaningless, but still, it is almost a given that most of the artists listed in prog-related were influenced by the development of progressive rock.

7) Common sense - Nitpicking over the above listed criteria is not necessarily the correct way to evaluate a band for prog-related. Sometimes you just have to use some common sense and look at the big picture.
A very good way to describe prog-related would be to imagine an exhaustive book that covered the history of progressive rock. Would such a book include references to led Zeppelin's 'Stairway to Heaven', David Bowie's 'The Man Who Sold the World' or Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody'? Probably so.
- Easy Money

Prog Related Top Albums


Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Prog Related | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.38 | 799 ratings
LED ZEPPELIN IV
Led Zeppelin
4.35 | 560 ratings
QUEEN II
Queen
4.27 | 659 ratings
A NIGHT AT THE OPERA
Queen
4.24 | 649 ratings
PARANOID
Black Sabbath
4.23 | 470 ratings
ARGUS
Wishbone Ash
4.19 | 585 ratings
BLACK SABBATH
Black Sabbath
4.16 | 528 ratings
SEVENTH SON OF A SEVENTH SON
Iron Maiden
4.15 | 371 ratings
THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS
Bowie, David
4.16 | 350 ratings
RISING
Rainbow
4.19 | 260 ratings
HUNKY DORY
Bowie, David
4.10 | 485 ratings
POWERSLAVE
Iron Maiden
4.09 | 492 ratings
MASTER OF PUPPETS
Metallica
4.08 | 505 ratings
SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH
Black Sabbath
4.03 | 593 ratings
PHYSICAL GRAFFITI
Led Zeppelin
4.10 | 258 ratings
HOUNDS OF LOVE
Bush, Kate
4.18 | 150 ratings
SECRET TREATIES
Blue Öyster Cult
4.02 | 379 ratings
HEAVEN AND HELL
Black Sabbath
4.00 | 499 ratings
MASTER OF REALITY
Black Sabbath
3.98 | 644 ratings
LED ZEPPELIN
Led Zeppelin
4.01 | 376 ratings
BRAVE NEW WORLD
Iron Maiden

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Latest Prog Related Music Reviews


 Pilgrimage by WISHBONE ASH album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.57 | 172 ratings

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Pilgrimage
Wishbone Ash Prog Related

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 1971's 'Pilgrimage' picks up pretty much where it's impressive predecessor, 1970's eponymous debut, left off. This time round, however, the classic Ash line-up of Andy Powell(guitar, vocals), Martin Turner(bass, vocals), Ted Turner(guitar) and Steve Upton(drums) opt for a slightly mellowier vibe, dipping into their reserves of folk influences in order to embellish 'Pilgrimage' with it's own distinct sound and thus separate it from the rockier 'Wishbone Ash'. Indeed, it has been a feature of Wishbone Ash's lengthy career to bravely juxtapose styles from album-to-album, often to the very real disappointment of even some their own fans, yet what this truly illustrates is a group more concerned with seeking creatively satisfaction than commercial benefits, an honourable trait. In the end, they received both, with 'Pilgrimage' proving an important stepping stone on the road to international success. Of course, you can't really write a review of early Wishbone Ash material without mentioning 'Argus', the group's awesome magnus opus that overshadows everything else they did, in particular 'Pilgrimage' which it closely follows. 'Argus' would expand the group's sound into progressive rock territory, concentrating on the impressive dual guitar attack of Powell and Ted Turner, yet 'Pilgrimage' would ultimately hold back from this kind of grandstanding, instead featuring a deep, glowing, almost amber sound brushed with the rustic hues of acoustic strums, slow-burning melodies and topped off by two jokers in the pack in the jazzy opening number 'Vas Dis' and the slow-burning epic 'Valediction', which still ranks as an out-and-out Ash classic. Although 'Pilgrimage' doesn't quite hit the same satisfying mystic-rock mark as the two classic albums that immediately surround it, this is still top-notch Ash product and one of only four albums to feature the group's pioneering original line-up. STEFAN TURNER, TOULOUSE, 2014
 Wishbone Ash  by WISHBONE ASH album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.77 | 180 ratings

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Wishbone Ash
Wishbone Ash Prog Related

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Still recording, releasing and touring after almost half-a-decade in existence, the lengthy and colourful Wishbone Ash story began all the way back in 1970 with this assured self-titled debut. Forty-four years and twenty-nine studio albums have followed, yet the simple fact of the matter is that Wishbone Ash peaked early on, issuing a fine opening trio of albums before venturing into a long, slow and sometimes painful artistic-and-commercial decline. However, despite those ill-judged late-career forays into NWOBHM-era heavy metal and, er...techno(!?) on the late-nineties albums 'Trance Visionary' and 'Psychic Terrorism', Wishbone Ash have actually enjoyed a pretty successful career, cracking North America during the late-seventies, issuing at least one stone-cold classic in the form of 1972's 'Argus' and somehow sustaining an audience throughout their many fluctuations in both style and popularity. Like many groups who started out during the heady days of the late- sixties/early-seventies, Wishbone Ash's best bits defintely came early on, during a short-but-scintillating three-year period that began with this debut album, continued on with 1971's 'Pilgrimage', and peaked with the all-conquering 'Argus'. All three albums, plus 1974's folksy 'Wishbone Four', feature the 'classic' Ash line-up of Andy Powell(guitar, vocals), Martin Turner(bass, vocals), Ted Turner(guitar) and Steve Upton(drums), and it this period which truly defines the group. These peak years effectively ended when, following 'Wishbone Four', the group's original twin-guitar attack was broken up, and Laurie Wisefield, formerly of progressive rock outfit Home, replaced the departing Ted Turner. From here on in, the distinctive Wishbone Ash sound would undergo a gradual Americanisation, with albums such on as 'Locked In' and 'New England' showcasing a slick and formulaic hard rock style aimed squarely at the North Ameican charts. Issued by MCA during the run-up to Christmas, 1970's 'Wishbone Ash' proved a surprise debut success and instantly found the group an audience in their homeland. The dual guitar attack offered up by Powell(who, as of summer 2014, is still leading the group) and Ted Turner both thrills and enthralls on the album's closing pair of epics, with both the ten-minute 'Handy' and the mystical opus 'The Phoenix' displaying the group's clever mix of hard rock pyrotechnics, soaring harmonies and atmospheric acoustic undertones. Despite a so-so opening with the frenetic, blues-stained opener 'Blind Eye', this remains a fine album from a youthful and energetic group. Echoes of 'Argus' can be heard in the album's carefully-layered grooves, whilst Martin Turner's ambivalent lyrics mesh cleverly with the album's lofty themes. STEFAN TURNER, TOULOUSE, 2014

 Musta Hiekka by ABSOLUUTTINEN NOLLAPISTE album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.08 | 5 ratings

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Musta Hiekka
Absoluuttinen Nollapiste Prog Related

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

3 stars The latest albums of this Finnish long-time cult group prove them to be still going strong, especially the two parts to the operatic "Pisara ja Lammas" concept work. Musta Hiekka preceeded that masterpiece and is also a fairly strong Abso album, with some progginess among rather mainstreamy / indie-type pop-rock. The instrumental opener 'Kivi kuivuu' (=The stone dries) is gorgeous and suitably dramatic in a Science Fiction spirit. In the angular 'Veistän kehdolle kantta' (= I'm making a lid for a cradle) the vocals are made with a vocoder. And when Tommi Liimatta's vocals are finally heard properly, they're slightly more masculine than in the early output when they often approached normal speech.

The 7-minute 'Valvoja-aika' is graced with a mighty guitar solo that leads to the general distortion of sound in a dramatic way. The next synth-based song resembles earlier pop-oriented material and may feel a bit boring to a prog-minded listener. (All in all, it can be said that AN's potential for international following is rather limited, and this is obviously reflected in the very small amount of PA reviews.) 'Teikäläisen taivas' a nice, powerful pop song full of clever rhymes; the poppiest output of CMX comes to my mind. The next track gives the emphasis on beautiful guitar textures.

The slight sense of mystery and Science Fiction of the beginning is to some degree present on e.g. 'Musta viisari', but the compositions get rather simple and vocal-oriented, turning the whole into a relatively typical AN album on the long run. I'm not yet so deeply into their output to say whether this is really among their best, but at least it contains some delightful freshness among the more-of-the-same feeling. Production is good all the way, and no doubt the lyrics offer a lot to think about, as always. Surely not a let-down album to a follower of this band. 3½ stars (rounded down due to the faint international prog appeal).

 Infinity by JOURNEY album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.64 | 70 ratings

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Infinity
Journey Prog Related

Review by thwok

3 stars How do you review an album that you really like, but isn't all that progressive? Infinity is a really fine rock record, and was hugely popular back when I was in junior high school. However, Journey had dropped just about all of their progressive tendencies by the time Infinity was released. My favorite tracks are probably "Feelin' That Way/Anytime" and "Wheel in the Sky".

The performances throughout the album are excellent, which should not be surprising considering the band members' backgrounds. Steve Perry can definitely sing, and Neal Schon shows once again what an excellent guitarist he is. I would rather listen to this than many of Styx's records or anything by Boston, to name two bands that are often compared to Journey. This album is certainly a whole lot better compositionally that what came after it!. Infinity's over-familiarity and lack of progressivenes decreases its rating for Prog Archives purposes. My final rating is going to be 3 stars - a really good rock record, but not a priority if progressiveness is really what you're looking for.

 Escape by JOURNEY album cover Studio Album, 1981
2.59 | 85 ratings

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Escape
Journey Prog Related

Review by Chicapah
Prog Reviewer

2 stars A few months ago I wrote a review of Journey's foul "Infinity" album from 1978 and I have no doubt that I insulted every one of their fans with my scathing assessment of it. It was vocalist Steve Perry's first LP with the band and I found it to be such a despicably blatant attempt at being commercial that I gave it .01 stars. It was as if Journey was massively codependent and desperately wanted everyone to like them. "Escape" came out in the summer of 1981 and by then Mr. Perry had fully acclimated himself into the group's Top 40 motif so the record is much more cohesive than those that had preceded it. Plus, they were one of the most popular acts in the biz so they knew exactly what their audience expected from them. The addition of Jonathan Cain on keyboards (replacing the burned-out Greg Rolie) gave them a bit of a creative boost, as well. All that being said, however, they were still about as progressive as George Strait. But I will concede that there are a couple of tracks on "Escape" that I can not only tolerate but actually enjoy so this critique won't be quite as disemboweling.

Wisely they open with what may go down in history as the most recognizable and memorable of their songs ever, "Don't Stop Believin'." While this is 100% pop rock from beginning to end it's still hard to say anything untoward about a tune as well-crafted and true to its intended purpose as this one is. I remember when I first heard it blaring from my car radio I was thinking how great it was to hear a number that featured a dominant bass guitar line up front in the mix for a change. The catchy chorus notwithstanding, I believe Russ Valory's contribution is the real key to the song's success and longevity. Like it or hate it, the tune is a gem of production and performance. "Stone in Love" is next and it's a reversion back to the brand of unsavory, faux "rawk" that I've come to identify this band with over the years. It has all the tired ingredients: vapid lyrics, calculated-to- dazzle-the-easily-dazzled dynamics and Neal Schon's wholly predictable guitarisms that appeal only to the lowest common denominator. "Who's Crying Now" follows and, despite it being a half-decent, inoffensive AOR tune overall, I find it impossible to be objective about it because it brings to mind my first wife. She went out and bought the LP with cash pilfered from our paltry music fund because she wanted to learn Neal's guitar solo on her rusty flute left over from high school. Since our marriage eventually ended badly even the mention of this particular ditty conjures up nauseating memories I'd rather not entertain. "Keep on Runnin'" is typical of the soulless drivel the dawning of the empty 80s decade brought to the rock & roll table, helping to foster a lot of the inane hair band crap that was so soon to flourish and drive decent prog fare off the music industry's map. "Still They Ride" is a slick, bluesy ballad that might've been acceptable to my ears had someone with grit like Rod Stewart sung it but everything slow-paced that Steve Perry warbles almost always comes off as a syrupy cocktail lounge number that only induces sleep.

The title track, "Escape," is an example of formula rock at its most pedestrian. At least the ensemble tries something a tad more adventurous during the middle instrumental segment but when it ends up being sandwiched between two thick slices of plain white bread as it does here it is relegated to the realm of the inconsequential. "Lay it Down" is next wherein their tried, true and trivial composing methodology is painfully exposed once again. Schon starts with his heavily stacked guitars playing a simple riff and then Steve Smith's boring drums jump in just before they embellish the track with Perry's high-pitched chirping and a big hook. I'm sure their devotees were happy as fish to hear it. "Dead or Alive" follows, a driving rocker coupled with what sounds like New Wave-ish vocal lines emanating from Steve. Compared to some of the other filler on the album it's not bad but that's not to endorse it as anything gratifying by a long shot. "Mother, Father" is one of the band's gallant attempts at manufacturing an epic anthem. Unfortunately there's just not enough substance lyrically or musically to hold this overblown piece together and it fails miserably to enthrall. They close out with "Open Arms." This staple of classic rock and adult contemporary radio stations is adorned with a beautiful melody that Perry delivers with class while the rest of the group manages to not clutter up the atmosphere unnecessarily. I've always admired a polished, unpretentious love ballad when I encounter one and this one deserves respect.

"Escape" was the first Journey album to rise to the very top of the charts and it further solidified their status as an arena-packing, multi-platinum act that made the shareholders of Columbia Records a lotta moolah (and still does). Yet by 1981 whatever progressive roots they once proudly sported had shriveled up and deteriorated completely so their presence on this site may surprise the prog neophyte who comes across them while scanning through the roster. Their prog-related tag is a stretch. If sales impress you and fill you with "Glee," then the fact that this album has sold over 12 million copies worldwide to date will be staggering to comprehend. But here in Progland the number of units shipped means next to nothing so I have to be honest and give it the rating I think it has earned. 1.8 stars.

 Rising by RAINBOW album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.16 | 350 ratings

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Rising
Rainbow Prog Related

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This second album by RAINBOW is not as good for my taste than their first. Their first album had more variety in the musical moods, having some slow and some heavy songs. For this second album, the music tends more to Hard Rock and Heavy Metal while in their first there even were some Classical Music inlfuences ("Temple of the King") and more Prog Rock music influences. Maybe the changes in personnel (too much changes, in my opinion, and not really needed, I think) really affected the sound and musical style of this second album. While Cozy Powell is still considered as one of the most versatile drummers and one of the best particularly in the Hard Rock and Heavy Metal musical styles, I think that their previous drummer (Gary Driscoll) was also a very good drummer and brought more variety to the music of the band. And I also think that, despite being good musicians, Tony Carey and Jimmy Bain were not better musicians than Mickey Lee Soule and Craig Gruber. Anyway, with Ritchie Blackmore being a very good musician but also "a very difficult person to work with," like some of the musicians who have worked with him have said in interviews, it really was not a surprise that he never was totally satisfied with the line-ups of his band, so many musicians came and went. This "Rising" album is good, but I still prefer their first album more than this album.
 Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow by RAINBOW album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.66 | 184 ratings

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Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow
Rainbow Prog Related

Review by siLLy puPPy

3 stars After the conflicting personalities in Deep Purple could no longer function together Ritchie Blackmore had enough and jumped ship to form his own band RAINBOW which on this first album has his name attached as RITCHIE BLACKMORE'S RAINBOW. While still in Deep Purple he toured with the band Elf which had Ronnie James Dio as the lead singer,. Basically Blackmore hit it off with Dio and stole a bunch of members of Elf to create this album. This is one of those albums that I want to like but feel a little let down by. The sound is good and all but the music is a little hit and miss. The album cover is way cool with every guitarist's dream castle in the clouds and it hints at a slightly epic kind of power metal that would eventually be invented by much later groups like Rhapsody or Angra.

On this release we get a bunch of great songs and some mediocre ones that just don't seem to fit in. A loose collection offering no unifying theme or feel. Excellent songs include the opener "Man On The Silver Mountain" and "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" and the instrumental closer "Still I'm Sad." Most are just in the OK department for me offering too little of the neoclassical guitar playing that Ritchie Blackmore so deftly exhibited in Deep Purple. Instead he tends to trade it off for a more Hendrix-ish bluesy hard rock sound. This is fine but he takes the influences way too far as on "Catch The Rainbow" and not exactly in an original and interesting way. "If You Don't Like Rock n' Roll" totally ruins the flow of the album. It sounds more like it should be on a Doobie Brothers album or some other blues rock band. An OK album but hardly the best of his RAINBOW years.

 Live in Hyogo  by ASIA album cover Live, 2003
2.00 | 3 ratings

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Live in Hyogo
Asia Prog Related

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Another "Official Bootleg" album, "From the Asia Archives", as the cover says, like other albums from the same series (with "Live in Buffalo", "Dragon Attack", "Live in Massachusetts 1983" being the other live albums) which "Voiceprint - Trademark of Official Quality" released between 2003 and 2004 (and that maybe all are out of print now). "Live in Hyogo" is clearly an audience recording from a concert they played during their "Then and Now" tour in 1990, in Japan. The line-up included original members John Wetton, Carl Palmer and Geoff Downes, plus the energetic Heavy Metal guitar playing style from Pat Thrall, a guitarist who played with the band during that tour replacing original guitarist Steve Howe, who left the band in 1984 before the band recorded their "Astra" album which was released in 1985.

Like in other live albums from this line-up and tour ("Now-Live in Nottingham", "Dragon Attack", and "Live in Moscow"), the band played very well, but the main difference was Thrall`s guitar playing, who played the songs in his own style, a very different style from Howe`s . The songs sound well, but one sometimes miss Howe`s guitar playing style in the songs which were played from their "Asia" and "Alpha" albums. The band also played during that tour some songs from the "Astra" album (which had Mandy Meyer as guitarist), plus some songs from KING CRIMSON and U.K. They also played some of the new songs they released in their "Then and Now" compilation album from 1990 ("Praying for a Miracle" and "Days like These"). With "Live in Moscow" and "Now-Live in Notingham" (I still have not yet listened to "Dragon Attack" but it seems that it also is an audience recording, as one review about that album says) having much better recordings than this audience live recording from Hyogo, I think that "Live in Moscow" is the best choice to buy from all the live recordings that I have listened unitl now from this line-up and tour, being a professional recording officially released by the band. So, this Hyogo album is more for the collectors and fans of the band. This audience recording is not very good.

 Asia Live In Philadelphia by ASIA album cover Live, 1997
2.15 | 7 ratings

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Asia Live In Philadelphia
Asia Prog Related

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

2 stars I saw this live album and other similar "official bootleg" live albums which were released from ASIA in 1997 ("Asia Live in Osaka", "Live in Koln") in some of the record shops of my city, being sold at very expensive prices. I had some curiosity to listen to some of them, but I never bought them then. Fortunately, I found this album in youtube available for listening.

I always have considered that Geoff Downes kept the ASIA name alive between 1991 and 2005 to kept busy with his musical career using an established band`s name. He maybe did not want to start from the beginning with a new band`s name with bassist and lead singer John Payne, so after the ASIA reunion tour of 1990-91 (with John Wetton, Carl Palmer and Pat Thrall) he started recording a new ASIA album ("Aqua") with John Payne as his main musical partner, with some new members and some appearances by Steve Howe (on 6 of the 12 songs from that album) and Carl Palmer. But mainly, that was a new band using an old name from a band from the eighties. And there were some musical differences between the "old" and "new" ASIA line-ups, with Payne having a very different vocals sound and style to John Wetton`s, with Payne being more like a Heavy Metal singer in comparison. So, I don`t like his voice very much, and more when he sang the old songs from ASIA. He sounded better singing the new songs from the band. Anyway, Downes carried on with Payne and several other line-ups of the band until 2006 when he reformed the original ASIA line-up.

After recording the "Aqua" album with Payne and other new musicians plus some help from Howe and Palmer, the band toured for a time with Howe as guest. This "official bootleg" album was recorded during that tour with Howe playing guitar along with Vinny Burns on most songs of the setlist. The styles of both guitarists are very different, with Burns being more like a Heavy Metal guitarist, but with him also playing some very good lead guitar parts. There are also some differences between the old songs from 1982-85 and the new songs from "Aqua", with the original style of the band being more clear in the old songs, of course. The then new songs don`t sound very ASIA in style, but they carried on as band anyway. And it seems that while the new band did not have the same success as the original band, they still have a lot of followers (with Payne still playing without Downes in his "ASIA featuring John Payne" band and still playing some songs from the original band).

It is curious, but none of the songs on which Howe had a co-writter credit during his time with ASIA (1982-83) were played during this 1992 tour, or at least, none of them were included in this album. Instead, they played "Aqua Part 1" from the "Aqua" album, a song co-credited to Howe as songwriter, and he was given a solo section to play four of his acoustic guitar compositions (three of them which were originally recorded with YES: "Mood for a Day", "Clap" and a fragment from "The Ancient").

The playing from all the members of the band is good in this album, but maybe it was not one of their best concerts from that tour, so there are some fails on Payne`s vocals and in some parts of Howe`s guitar playing. The recording of the album is not very good, not being very known if it is an audience recording or a soundboard recording. There are some very typical shouts from some members of the audience which I don`t like, but they are very typical from a lot of recordings done by members of the audience. Anyway, the band sounds clear in this recording and as an "official bootleg" from that point of view it is not a bad recording.

For collectors and fans only.

 Gravitas by ASIA album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.76 | 55 ratings

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Gravitas
Asia Prog Related

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

3 stars ASIA was announced in 1982 as a "super-group". Many Prog Rock fans then were "excited" to see the names of three very respected Prog Rock musicians working together in a band (Steve Howe, Carl Palmer and John Wetton), still expecting to listen to great musical things in Prog Rock terms by the combination of their talents. The only musician in the band without a full time Prog Rock music background was Geoff Downes, who previously was part of a Pop Rock band called THE BUGGLES who in 1980 became part of YES for their "Drama" album, being recruited then by YES more as "urgent replacements" by their manager as they had contracted tour dates to be played and to satisfy some pending financial problems that the band had when Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman left the band. So, "Drama" was surprisingly a very good album done by a tired YES, which had some success, but the tour was not as successful as the album because THE BUGGLES ` former lead singer Trevor Horn had great problems singing the old songs from the band in concert. So, YES split for a time, and Steve Howe and John Wetton were put in contact by one very famous A&R man to form a new band. This A&R man was very influential and had some plans to form some "super-groups" . ASIA was one of them. So, Palmer and Downes later joined that band to form that "super-group". Despite the very good quality of their first album from 1982 (which was more Pop Rock oriented than Prog Rock oriented), many Prog Rock fans were disappointed by the commercial musical direction the new band followed ("the new musical trends of the eighties"). So, I can say that ASIA really was like other "super-groups": a very good combination of very good musicians which apparently only could work together well for one album. After the success of this first album, some problems started to appear between the egos of some members, and the record label executives and managers declared Wetton and Downes as the "official composers" of the band, another thing which caused a lot of problems which in the end caused the split of the original band after the tour for a second album titled "Alpha" (1983), an album which was even more Pop Rock oriented than their first. Anyway, the band was not the same without Howe as guitarist, but the band reunited in 2006 with their original line-up. Unfortunately, maybe the chemistry was not as good as it was for their first album from 1982, so Howe finally left again in early 2013. So, like other "super-groups", ASIA was maybe destined to be remembered for a really very good first album and nothing more.

But ASIA is not finished yet as a band without Howe. Even if the guitar role has been increasingly diminished in this band in their last albums with Howe, they recruited a young guitarist called Sam Coulson for this "Gravitas" album. But again, replacing a very characteristic sound as guitarist like Howe`s is not an easy task. Coulson is a good guitarist, but his style of playing is more related to other guitarists that the band had before (Mandy Meyer, Pat Thrall) than to Howe`s. So, this "Gravitas" album is similar in some ways to "Astra" (1985) but without the eighties very characteristic production sound and style that "Astra" has. The songs are very good, all composed by Wetton and Downes with their very characteristic composing style, and with very good arrangements. These musicians are very good and with a lot of experience, of course, so one can expect really very good albums from them, even if the Prog Rock arrangements are not very present and even if the style of the music is more Pop Rock oriented than before. Wetton and Downes became the "definitive" composers for this band, and the sound of this band is more related to their composing style since "Alpha". Their first album should be remembered really as a "one-off" very good combination of talents which produced a very good album which still had some Prog Rock things, and for that reason it is maybe their best album. But with Wetton and Downes as composers and with Palmer as a very good drummer plus Coulson`s guitar style the band still sounds very well. I think that Downes really shines with his keyboards playing and arrangements in ASIA more than in YES (on which the guitars are the predominant instruments more than the keyboards). So Downes`s best musical place in a band is in ASIA, working together with Wetton as composers and producers.

In conclusion, this is a good qualiy album, very well recorded, mixed and produced, and with a very good cover design by Roger Dean. Not very Prog Rock in musical style, but good anyway.

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10CC United Kingdom
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ABEDUL Spain
ABSOLUUTTINEN NOLLAPISTE Finland
ACIDENTE Brazil
AERODROM Yugoslavia
AGNUS DEI Austria
AGUA DE ANNIQUE Netherlands
DON AIREY United Kingdom
ALBERO MOTORE Italy
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