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Asia - XXX CD (album) cover




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2.98 | 164 ratings

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4 stars While it would be easy for many listeners to dismiss Asia as washed up prog dinosaurs whose best days are behind them, this listener simply cannot do that. "XXX" is a brilliant piece of crossover-prog that recalls the best days of Asia and U.K. while lyrically being more advanced.

It is quite obvious that the symphonic prog leanings of their first album have been disposed of in favor of a leaner, more spare sound not unlike that of U.K. In fact, on some of the album's best tracks, "Tomorrow the World", "I Know How You Feel" and "Face in the Bridge", the vocals and keyboards compare favorably to U.K.'s eponymous debut while retaining the majestic and unmistakeable fretwork of Steve Howe. Furthermore, "No Religion" and "Al Gatto Nero" manage to be hard rocking while balancing a prog sensibility with strong pop hooks.

Offsetting the harder tracks are the ballads...the haunting "Ghost of a Chance", the plodding "Faithful" (the weakest track on "XXX") and the mid-tempo ballad "Bury Me in Willow" which would have been a huge hit if it had been released in the 1980s. While the latter song is really good, it does serve as a reminder that Asia is a band from another era.

The bottom line: the band sounds in top form and this album has some of the best songwriting and lyrics that Asia has ever offered. However, this album sounds like it could have been recorded in the 1980s. In fact, if I could manipulate the time space continuum, this would have been released in lieu of 1983's "Alpha". It would have been a bigger success than even their debut...

Grade: B+

Fenrispuppy | 4/5 |


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