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4.7.12

Asia - 'XXX' (froniters) 5/5





Supergroups tend be short lived on the whole. Widowmaker, Three, GTR, The Law... there is an endless list of outfits featuring the best of rocks good and the great that promised much but  only struggled on for an album, sometimes two then vanished. However there are exceptions to the rule, and Asia are one such exception. Formed way back in 1982 by Carl Palmer (Atomic Rooster / ELP), Geoff Downes (Yes / The Buggles), Steve Howe (Yes) and John Wetton (UK, King Crimson, Uriah Heap, Wishbone Ash and many many more), Asia put out an eponymous debut album - a record that is now days viewed as one of the classic albums of all time - and then followed it up with the equally impressive Alpha a year or two later. Since then the name Asia has never gone away, but the band since then has always had a fluid line up with various members coming and going through the years. But now the original four have reunited for a 30th anniversary tour and this rather tasty album release.

Now I will declare an interest and say I've been a big fan of Asia ever since that first album hit the stacks and so I was more than a bit excited when I first got wind that this one was on the cards. And I am glad to say I'm not disappointed. From the opening cut, Tomorrow The World, right through to the closer, Ghost Of A Chance this is one great record that manages to capture all the magic and uplifting feel good vibes of those first two albums in fine style. There are nine cuts on offer here and everyone is a winner, we get I Know How You Feel where Geoff Downes keys gives the whole thing a kind of Supertramp feel, the truly wonderful Bury Me In Willow, when Mr Wettons heart felt vocal delivery and emotive lyrics move you to the very core and lift the soul on sonic wings at the same time; and the driving No Religion where Carl Palmers distinctive drumming drive the whole thing along in fine style and give Steve Howe room for some truly remarkable lead guitar work. If fact there isn't a weak track on show here at all.

All the classic Asia trade marks are hear, nice accessible poppy prog rock tunes, expert musicianship, huge soundscapes, big uplifting choruses and enough catchy hooks to keep a velcro factory on over time for months. I will keep saying it, this is one damn fine record, a classic in the making. An album that stands proud alongside those first two Asia albums, and although I don't like saying it (after all I am quite fond of albums like Astra, Aria and Aura) the best thing Asia have issued since 1984.

All in all a damn near as perfect album as you can expect from these guys, and with Yes seemingly changing line ups every two weeks, ELP on hiatus and Mr Wetton  currently on a solo career, I for one would like to see this classic Asia line up sticking around a bit and doing a few more like this.

A True Classic

For fans of... Yes, It Bites, Journey,  Supertramp, Boston etc....

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