ASIA – XXX

Asia - XXXFor a bunch of grumpy old men who hated each other’s guts when they split up, Asia has been very productive and keen to be moving forward since their reunion in 2008. The two reunion albums Phoenix (2008) and Omega (2010) were both very good and showed a band that didn’t take an interest in being a nostalgia act, but wanted to create new music as well as playing live. Accordining to their set lists, they are about to show their fans that they believe in their new material enough to play lots of it live as well.

When Asia started out in the early 80’s they were seen as some kind of supergroup. The members hailed from bands  such as Yes (Steve Howe, guitar and Geoff Downes, keyboards), King Crimson (John Wetton, bass and vocals), E.L.P. (drummer Carl Palmer), Buggles (Downes) and Uriah Heep (Wetton), all bands with a progressive vein. Ok, so Buggles were a pop duo and Heep are 70’s plain hard rock. But Asia turned out to be a different beast. Their music was pure AOR and their debut album sold millions, it didn’t take long for egos to clash and original members to walk out until there was only Downes left of the original line up.

The reunion was somewhat a surprise as the members weren’t exactly on speaking terms and when they did speak, in the press that is, kind words weren’t exactly what came out of their mouths. So it’s nice to see that with their third album after the reunion, the original line up is still here. It is also nice to state that once again the band has recorded a very good record. And this one is actually their best to date. The band has kept all the AOR elements, but gone a bit further by including more progressive bits in there. Which works amazingly well. With great musicians like these it would be a throwaway to not use their full knowledge.

“Tomorrow The World” opens the album in a great way. A poppy thing with prog undertones and a catchy chorus, it could be a hit. “Bury Me In Willow” is a classic Asia AOR track, “No Religion” is a great song that holds elements of 70’s hard rock, “Face On The Bridge” is a great song that sounds like early Asia and “Al Gatto Nero” is just as catchy as it gets. “Judas” is just awesome. This is Asia to me. As bonus tracks we get “I Know How You Feel”, a decent song, in a new mix and “Faithful” another pretty good song, but in an orchestrated version. I’m not sure about those. Why would anybody be interested in those versions? They’re just waste of space to me.

All in all, Asia has with XXX released a classic Asia album that should satisfy any old fan of the band. It’s well produced, well performed and the songs are very well written and arranged. The CD is easily their best since their reunion and just as good as the albums from their hey day. I could recommend anybody to go buy this one, but whatever you do, don’t google the band and the title in the same sentence…

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)

Tracklist:
01. Tomorrow The World
02. Bury Me In Willow
03. No Religion
04. Faithful
05. I Know How You Feel
06. Face On The Bridge
07. Al Gatto Nero
08. Judas
09. Reno (Silver And Gold)
10. Ghost Of A Chance
11. I Know How You Feel (Midnight Mix)
12. Faithful (Orchestral Version)

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