Asia Reviews

Also see: John Wetton, Steve Howe, Geoff Downes

From: Dan J. Schulte
> I recently bought 'Live in Moscow 1990' and was impressed with the music... I was wondering what other Asia albums people would recomend..or are they all good..?
Well, stay FAR away from any of the John Paine years. His last name says it all. I recently bought an Asia Anthology and it turned out to be a Paineful experience, heheh. Paine was singing Wetton classics way off key and to make things worse, his voice sounded like a dog after it had just eaten a giant bowl of Lays potato chips. But ahhhh...the classic Asia with Wetton at the helm. Here are my favs:
Asia: This album everyone should have. I assume you already do. If not, buy it! Their classic debut with some ripping Downes synthplay & some slobbering drum pounding by Carl.
Astra: a solid album with a tune or two tunes that are a little too sweet for me....but overall a classic.
Alpha: I think this is their best. Buy it...NOW!

From: George Khouroshvili
So if you don't have any Asia albums except Moscow live, I think you should try the 1st one (c) 1982 "ASIA". It's often considered as their best album. I love guitar parts by S. Howe on it & and of course almost all their greatest hits are there (I can't even mention the song I dislike on this album). Their next album "Alpha" is a little bit boring (though there are some great songs too), although Howe was still the lead guitarist he didn't participate in songwriting. "Astra" [without Howe] (c) 1985 was much better (still not as good as the 1st), but it was out of time, audience preferred another music.
I don't think you should buy "Then & Now" (c) 1990: half of it is a collection, the 2nd part is some unreleased songs (not bad but if you are not a fan - not interesting).  In 1991 John Wetton left the band and was replaced by John Payne. Steve Howe returned and they recorded "Aqua" (c) 1992. Though I think that Wetton-era was better, this album is one of their best. It was the last album with Carl Palmer. "Aria" (c) 1994 was the successful continuation of "AQUA" but for me it's not as interesting. "Arena" (c) 1996 disappointed me when I heard it for the 1st time, now I like the album, but it's not the one you should buy first. John Payne has a very powerful and nice voice but without Wetton's tenderness and charm. I had a hard time to get used to the new ASIA's vocals.
N.B. If you like the live stuff - "Now. Live in Nottingham 1990" is for you. The same tour you liked so much, but track list is quite different (and all the new T&N songs are there). Asia also has 3 official bootlegs with Payne (Osaka, Koln & Philadelphia). Their sound recording is very poor and Payne sings Wetton songs awful. And at last "ARCHIVA" (2 CDs with unreleased material) & "Anthology" - the greatest hits (all songs by Wetton were re-recorded with Payne - Japanese release contains original tracks).
P.S. I think many of you don't consider ASIA as prog at all?! I know a lots of people who hate it (though loving the bands from which the musicians came: ELP, YES, KC & U.K.). 

From: "upnsm0ke" <>
> As I recall from the ASIAN Armada newsletter there is no confirmed plans on ASIA reunion. There is no possibility that Wetton would perform with Payne live. Geoff wants Payne to stay with the band anyway. Howe is not interested in the project as long as Wetton participates.
I also thought the idea of Wetton sliding back into Asia seemed odd. Then again, while Asia produced some enjoyable pop-rock songs, their emphasis is on 'pop.' Wetton & co. surely enjoyed themselves recording the first three albums, but they just don't hold a candle to the members' previous projects. Some text from the Wetton interview in Progression, Volume II, Issue 22:
"...Wetton is not fond of Asia's current incarnation, in which Geoff Downes remains the sole original member. [Wetton] believes that Downes is trading on the Asia name while letting its musical vision fade into obscurity...[according to Wetton], Downes remains miffed at [John's] decision to leave the band in '91. The two haven't spoken since, except through an intermediary negotiating release of non-Asia tracks the two recorded some years ago.
"Wetton says he will never perform with Asia again, yet he is not averse to working with Downes in another capacity. 'Geoff is very welcome here, anytime,' he says.
"...by 1990, the Asia formula had more or less been milked dry, Wetton says. Now, Downes carries on with what Wetton considers to be Asia in name only. 'I would have preferred that Asia be put on ice in '91, so it could be brought back...perhaps in five years' time,' Wetton says. 'The world had enough of Asia for that time...I would have preferred to leave it as it was and create a vacuum of demand that sometimes happens when you don't flog something to death. Unfortunately, [Downes] didn't feel the same way.' "
John Wetton on Asia's reformation in the late '80s with himself, guitarist Pat Thrall, Palmer and Downes:
"...Wetton felt Asia slipping into anachronism. 'I remember standing on stage in Brazil...thinking to myself...I'm not into this at all...I remember a guy jumping up and down with his fist in the air. I was thinking, 'God this is is terrible!' "
Geoff Downes was interviewed in the same issue, but these topics were not touched upon at all. Instead, Geoff's ongoing commitment to Asia is stressed (he's definitely made it his own), and the successor to 1987's THE LIGHT PROGRAM is mentioned, a recording that will be a 'stream-of-consciousness' sort of album, as was TLP.

From: "Rob McMonigal" <> Subject: Re: Off to see Asia
>Hello folks, Got my tickets to go and see Asia in March. Any recommendations for suitable albums? I'm not familiar with their music - just trying to expand my horizons!
I'd go for the first CD, since it will give you a general idea of what kind of music to expect. It's basically arena-rock played by guys that could, if they wanted, do more "standard" prog music. The new CD, which hasn't gotten cheap enough for me to pick up yet, might also be a good idea, as I expect they'd be playing a fair sized chunk of it.  Lastly, there are several ASIA live CDs which range in quality from good to terrible. I can't remember offhand which are which.

From: "upnsm0ke" <> Subject: Re: Off to see Asia, the band, not the country
Hey, David! I don't think you got much feedback on Asia because there aren't many (or any) on this list who really like (or care for) Asia beyond the first three albums (the ones with John Wetton). I like the first Asia album, great pop-rock (not prog). I don't really like _Alpha_, but _Astra_ has some nice tracks. After that, I think I proceeded to forget Asia still exists. :)

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