Take a singer/bass player by the name of John Wetton, formally of King Crimson and Uriah Heep, add guitarist Steve Howe and keyboardist Geoff Downes from the disbanded group Yes, toss in a drummer by the name of Carl Palmer, arguably the best percussionist in the world and you have the group Asia.
With a line-up like that, you can expect that this album would be something to treasure. Though it is more pop oriented than any of the work that the members did in previous groups, this album represents just what can be accomplished by four great musicians and songwriters.
This album garnered much critical acclaim but never caught on commercially in the way that they expected. Although it is filled with many a great song, there is only a couple that would ever reach the charts.
But fans of good quality playing, will not go wrong with this well crafted and very listenable album. It is an enjoyable experience and one that I have had many, many times.
The album starts with the most recognizable song off of it. "Heat of the Moment" is a song that shows great promise from this band. Starting out with a blast from the guitar of Steve Howe, this song is a showcase of all the talents involved with the project. John Wetton shows that he is more than capable as a singer. Howe delivers a superb guitar hook that is one of the first things that got me with this song. A little see-saw riff that made me freeze the first time I heard it. He also fires off a great little solo about half way through this tune. A hit song and deservedly so!!
The next song is called "Only Time Will Tell." This song is more of a throwback to their roots. It has the fantastic keyboard styling of Downes and a thunderous delivery by Palmer! The melody line laid down by Downes is mystical and dreamy, very much like that former band he was in. The big difference is the soothing vocals of Wetton and the fiery backing of Carl Palmer. This is one of my favorites by this band. Every element is perfect! This is one to just sit back and enjoy....and enjoy it you will!
"Sole Survivor" is one of the heavier songs on this album. The guitar of Howe delivers a dark and moody feeling when set against the brooding keyboards of Downes. Together with a powerful approach by Carl Palmer, this song really packs a punch. Once again Wetton is strong as the lead singer. This song is a hidden little gem of a rock and roller!
The song "One Step Closer" is more of the classical meets rock and roll. The vocal harmonies are pure Yes and the synthesizers mimicking an orchestra adds much to this feeling. This song, although musically strong by both Downes and Howe, is the weakest on the album. It has a very disjointed and at times sounds like it is an unfinished work in progress!
"Time Again" pulls out the stops and delivers a very quality look at just what each individual in this band is capable of. Wetton's bass is the focal point of the song, as he puts down the line that is the glue to this piece. Downes does his best Wakemen imitation on this cut also! His use of synthesizer and piano, (switching from one instrument to the other) is a technique that really works well. Palmer gets his chance to break out and takes full advantage! He hits you with every weapon that is back there in his arsenal, including the gong! The weak point of this tune is the lyrics. Wetton does not have much to work with and it shows. Very forgettable vocals against some fine playing!
Next up is the song "Wildest Dreams." A driving bass line with a swirling synthesizer and a staccato guitar start off this song that is their commentary on the ability to watch such things as war on TV. This song is a medium rocker that relies on the keyboard work of Downes and the masterful work by Carl Palmer. Without exception, Palmer delivers throughout this album. Any doubt as to his standing among the elite of the percussion world should be dispelled with this work!
The band had to add something a little quieter to the album. Well at least a song that starts out that way! The song "Without You" is this song. It is Asia's version of the power ballad. Howe takes a good stab at providing this song with some energy by elevating his playing to some lofty heights! He also breaks out the acoustic guitar toward the end of this song for the first time on this disc. This song sounds like many other bands that were out at the time. It has that "Big Hair Band" feel with some extra synthesizers thrown in to change things up a bit.
One of the more interesting pieces on this album is the song "Cutting It Fine." This is a blend of many different sounds and effects that come together in a very unique and enjoyable style that is hard to ignore. The keyboards are the highlight here by far. Downes uses both synthesizer and grand piano to propel this song along. His arrangement is at times almost disco in its rhythm and at others it borders on classical! A very good song that will be on your playlist for quite awhile.
The last song on this album is the bombastic and powerful, "Here Comes The Feeling." This song is one that uses the piano work of Downes and the guitar backing of Howe to set the stage for Wetton's strongest vocal performance on this disc! This song received modest airplay but deserved much better. A super catchy refrain that I can remember singing under my breath every time I heard it! This is another song where all members brought the best they had to offer and the result is a virtual feast for the listener's ears! This is as good as it gets in the Asia catalogue! A great way to end this very good album.
Asia is a group that has all the elements. The problem is getting them put together! When they managed to do so, the results were explosive. When the didn't, well lets just say that it is still listenable! The one thing that they really need is a good songwriter. Someone who can come up with some lyrics other than the standard stuff that they use on this album. That is the only fault that I can find though. All in all it is an album that may not be in the Big Leagues, but is definitely worth a listen. Good musicians seem to have a knack for making up for their weakest links.
There are some interesting comments about the debut Asia record. Some folks praise it as a long lost classic. Others rip to shreds.However, its the folks who take an even tempered stance are the ones who seem most practical to me. There are many creative instrumental passages on this record particularly from keyboardist Geoffrey Downes. However many of the songs are just a little too radio friendly with cliche laden lyrics. The overplayed singles-Here Comes That Feeling, Only Time Will Tell, and … more
Asia: John Wetton (vocals, bass); Steve Howe (vocals, guitar); Geoff Downes (vocals, keyboards); Carl Palmer (drums). Recorded at Townhouse Studio, London, England. Asia (Rock): Geoffrey Downes, John Wetton, Steve Howe, Carl Palmer. Prog-rock fans everywhere got very excited when they found out that ex-members of such bands as Yes (guitarist Steve Howe and keyboardist Geoff Downes), King Crimson (bassist/vocalist John Wetton), and ELP (drummer Carl Palmer) were forming a supergroup, Asia. With its 1982 self-titled debut, the quartet surprisingly crossed over to the more mainstream pop audience with no problem, hitting the top spot on the album charts. Time and again here, each member shows his mastery of his respective instrument. ASIA is chock full of compositions showcasing the quartet's keen pop sensibilities, such as the uptempo Top 10 hit "Heat of the Moment," and the more laid back "Only Time Will Tell." Song List: Disc 1 1. Heat of the Moment 2. Only Time Will Tell 3. Sole Survivor 4. One Step Closer 5. Time Again 6. Wildest Dreams 7. Without You 8. Cutting It Fine 9. Here Comes the Feeling