July 16, 2012

Review: Asia-XXX

Asia, the continent, has been around “forever.” Asia, the band, for not quite as long, but are celebrating their 30th anniversary. The four original band members, John Wetton (bass), Steve Howe (guitars), Geoff Downes (keyboards) and Carl Palmer (drums) reformed back in 2006 and released albums in 2008 and 2010 but now comes the big one….30 years on…Asia XXX.
Asia XXX is a 9 track album (the deluxe edition comes with a second disc, a DVD) with the opening track, “Tomorrow The World” the longest, at just over 7 minutes, and the concluding track, “Ghost Of A Chance,” the shortest at 4.5 minutes. The opener, “Tomorrow The World” is exactly the sort of track that should start all albums. Commonly referred to as a “grabber”…makes you look forward to the rest of the album.  A gentle piano/vocal moves into “classic” prog with an instant hook, then back to the gentle intro before the synthesizer hook returns and is also picked up by Steve Howe’s guitar as it careers to the finale. Unfortunately, the initial enthusiasm for the album then starts to deteriorate…”Bury Me In Willow,” track 2, starts with a melody that could be Fleetwood Mac, but then moves more into the mainstream prog area, but then the chorus has your memory working overtime to remember where you heard it before!
“No Religion,” “Faithful,” “I Know How You Feel,” “Face On The Bridge,” “Al Gatto Nero” and “Judas” do little to relieve the feeling of “prog by numbers” and you crave some indication of freshness and real soul to put in an appearance. The pedigree of the band members (Family, King Crimson, UK, Wishbone Ash, Yes, Atomic Rooster and ELP) should constantly be hitting musical highs throughout this album.
The closing track, “Ghost Of A Chance,” does allow the band to regain some credibility with a superbly structured piece of music. Simple piano/vocal intro before “strings” and Steve’s guitar picks out the melody, then back to the piano/vocal before the track builds nicely into an orchestral chunk and onto the close.
When four excellent musicians with glowing pedigrees set out to produce a 30th anniversary album you would expect great things to happen. After listening to this lackluster effort, I feel that even the most die-hard Asia fan would be a tad disappointed by the end product. If this were a debut album from a new band, it would be classed as adequate and showing some promising signs, but with such progressive stalwarts, where did the hunger, freshness and soul go?
3/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Tomorrow The World, Bury Me In Willow, Ghost Of A Chance
Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson
July 16, 2012

No comments:

Post a Comment