[Review] Asia: Then & Now (1990)

The band brought in new writers to finish the story of Asia and propped it up with footage from the first three albums.

Kronomyth 4.0: Anathema.

Half an album of hits and half an album of (insert anagram for “hits” here). In retrospect, the figure from Astra crouching in what appears to be a toilet stall should have been fair warning. Apparently, in the interim since Astra, Asia recorded one more song with Mandy Meyer (the weepy, wimpy “Am I In Love?”) and then tried out a series of guitarists (Steve Lukather, Ron Komie, Thin Lizzy’s Scott Gorham) before settling on Pat Thrall for the 1990 tour.

The four “new” songs presented as Now are nothing more than faceless, corporate product. “Days Like These” was probably pitched to Starship at some point. “Prayin’ 4 A Miracle” was written by David Cassidy and his wife. Yes, the guy who played Keith Partridge. And his wife.

I wasn’t a big fan of Alpha, but it is a masterpiece compared to what the label cobbled together for Then & Now. If there’s one Asia album you don’t need to own (and, let’s be honest, there’s more than one), this is it. And while we’re on the subject of what a ripoff this album is, hiring another illustrator to re-create the artwork of Roger Dean is lame. I mean, really, a pegasus? That is just a horn away from being a unicorn, people.

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Original LP Version

A1. Only Time Will Tell (4:46)
A2. Heat of the Moment (3:52)
A3. Wildest Dreams (5:10)
A4. Don’t Cry (3:40)
A5. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes (John Wetton) (3:14)
B1. Days Like These (Steve Jones) (4:05)
B2. Prayin’ 4 A Miracle (John Wetton/Sue Shiftin/David Cassidy) (4:22)
B3. Am I In Love? (4:24)
B4. Summer (Can’t Last Too Long) (4:16)
B5. Voice of America (4:18)

Songs written by John Wetton/Geoff Downes unless noted.

The Players

Geoff Downes (keyboards), Carl Palmer (drums & percussion), John Wetton (lead vocals, background vocals & bass) with Jamie Green (B2), Ron Komie (guitar on B2), Steve Lukather (guitar on B1), Mandy Meyer (guitar on B3), Scott Gorham (guitar on B4), Guy Roche (B1), Michael Sturgis (B4). Produced, engineered and mixed by Mike Stone except B1 produced & engineered by Frank Wolf; B2 produced by John Wetton, Sue Shifrin, David Cassidy and Guy Roche, engineered by Frank Wolf; B4 produced by John Wetton and Geoff Downes, mixed by Mike Stone, additional engineering by Frank Wolf.

The Pictures

Illustration by Jean-Francois (Voila, unicorn!) Podevin. Photography by Caroline Greyshock. Art direction by Gabrielle Raumberger. Design by Janet Wolsborn.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, compact disc and cassette in August 1990 in the US (Geffen, 24298-1/2/4) and Mexico (Warner, LPXB 6998); reached #114 on the US charts (RIAA-certified gold record).

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