[Review] Asia (1982)

From the ashes of Yes, ELP and U.K. rose Asia. Be careful what you ash for…

Kronomyth 1.0: Monsters of prog rock.

In 1979, ELP disbanded. In 1981, Yes followed suit. Out of their ashes rose Asia. I recall at the time being really excited at the prospect of Steve Howe, Carl Palmer and John Wetton working together. That is, until I heard this album. To say it was a disappointment would be an understatement. I hated this album when it came out. Asia was everything that prog rock railed against: power chords, cheap sentiments, commercialism over creativity.

With time, I remembered that Yes and ELP had been selling out arenas for years, and in fact were as responsible for arena rock as anyone. That and the gradual appreciation of Steve Howe’s contributions to this record eventually softened me on Asia, to the extent that I finally began buying up other Asia albums. Invariably, I would grumble about how bad they were (particularly Alpha), but I admit to taking some pleasure in their music, if only out of the misplaced loyalty that plagues most proggers.

Now, just to be clear, I’m not defending “Heat of the Moment,” “Only Time Will Tell” or “Sole Survivor.” Those songs are terrible. But “One Step Closer,” “Time Again,” “Without You” and “Cutting It Fine” are good, especially when weighed against whatever instrumental album Howe or Palmer would have otherwise been making at the time. Geoff Downes also emerges as a pretty decent prog keyboardist; anyone who can hold their own with this trio deserves some credit. As for Wetton’s voice, it’s still a powerful commodity, I just wish it had been used for good (e.g., U.K.) instead of evil (this).

My grouchiness aside, Asia is a classic rock record, and if you have happy memories associated with it, I understand and even envy you a little. For me, it seemed like the final nail in prog’s coffin, but we’ve already been over what a Drama queen I am where Yes is concerned.

Read more Asia reviews

Original LP Version

A1. Heat of the Moment (John Wetton/Geoff Downes) (3:50)
A2. Only Time Will Tell (John Wetton/Geoff Downes) (4:44)
A3. Sole Survivor (John Wetton/Geoff Downes) (4:48)
A4. One Step Closer (John Wetton/Steve Howe) (4:16)
A5. Time Again (Geoff Downes/Steve Howe/Carl Palmer/John Wetton) (4:45)
B1. Wildest Dreams (John Wetton/Geoff Downes) (5:10)
B2. Without You (John Wetton/Steve Howe) (5:04)
B3. Cutting It Fine (John Wetton/Geoff Downes/Steve Howe) (5:35)
B4. Here Comes The Feeling (John Wetton/Steve Howe) (5:42)

The Players

Geoffrey Downes (keyboards and vocals), Steve Howe (guitars and vocals), Carl Palmer (drums and percussion), John Wetton (lead vocals and bass guitar). Produced & engineered by Mike Stone.

The Pictures

Artwork by Roger Dean.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and cassette on March 18, 1982 in the UK, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain (Geffen, GEF/40GEF 85577), the US (Geffen, GHS/M5 2008), Canada (Geffen, XGHS/M5G 2008) and Japan (Geffen, 25AP 2299); reached #11 in the UK and #1 in the US (RIAA-certified 4X platinum record).

  1. Re-issued on compact disc in June 1994 in the UK (Bullet Proof, 4859).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in Japan (Geffen, UICY-9123).
  3. Re-issued on compact disc in 1997 in the US (Geffen, 2008).
  4. Re-issued on compact disc on March 20, 1999 in the UK (Geffen, GFLD 19054).
  5. Re-released on remastered, ltd. ed. 24k gold compact disc in 2010 in the US (Audio Fidelity, AFZ 068).
  6. Re-released on super high material compact disc  in 2010 in Japan (Geffen, UIGY-9606) and again in 2010 in Japan (Geffen, UIGY-9041).
  7. Re-released on 180g vinyl elpee in 2012 in Japan (Geffen, UIJY-75005).

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