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Asia - Asia CD (album) cover




Prog Related

3.15 | 483 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars The debut album by the band that every serious progger loves to hate, yeah, i'm talking 'bout ASIA which finds John Wetton (King Crimson, Family, Roxy Music, Uriah Heep, UK, Wishbone Ash), Steve Howe (Yes), Geoff Downes (Yes, The Buggles) and Carl Palmer (ELP, Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, Atomic Rooster) synergizing their lengthy prog resumes into a prog power pop album that not only sent a shock wave throughout the prog world but further intensified it by becoming a huuuuge hit on the pop charts (hitting #1 on Billboard and even generating a #4 single with "Heat Of The Moment"). This was new territory. Polished prog refined to pop and enjoying heavy rotation on MTV alongside the likes of the Gogos, Men At Work, Toto, Survivor and Olivia Newton-John. Well, how could they?!!!!!

This album actually has its roots in the "Drama" album by Yes where the band was looking to update their sound into an 80s radio friendly style without seriously sacrificing the prog aspects that their loyal 70s followers craved. With Yes veterans working with new wavers such as Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes they concocted a new mix of the old and new in a style that alienated some old fans who didn't want to move into new territory and picked up newer younger fans who were a little more keen on experiments.

While "Drama" faired well in the UK, elsewhere it was a bit of a miss. Yes decided to take a break from each other and split into two camps. One branch which included Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Chris Squire went on to create a band called Cinema which for some reason changed the name back to Yes for their 1983 album 90125 and the other branch formed ASIA. Both albums took the approach of "Drama" and seriously de-progged it. Actually i should say they condensed the prog into pop-like song structures making this one of the most surreal albums of the entire 80s. These two albums actually sound related as the guitar riffs of "Heat Of The Moment" and "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" sound very similar. This would also be the album where ASIA took over Roger Dean's artwork for their albums and Yes would abandon them for the rather uninspiring simplicity that would continue for a while.

Personally i find this album quite entertaining. You hear all the characteristics of full-blown symphonic prog on board with the lush keyboard sweeps, the intricate guitar solos, frenzied time signatures, bombastic deliveries and jazz-tinged drum rolls but they occur in the context of a song structured in the popular music of the day. The music is complex in its minutia but structured melodically to be very catchy and ear-worm generating. The musicianship sounds over-the-top for such simple songs but somehow this album works for me.

Although not one i indulge in on a regular basis i find the efforts to be seductive and introducing a new marriage of styles that hadn't been so successfully fulfilled. I really don't understand the contempt for this one. It has beautiful melodies, strong musical deliveries and oh yeah! Maybe it's the banal lyrics. I can understand that one. Maybe if they were singing about psilocybin enemas, nonsensical verbose meanderings or included unintelligible utterings this would have been better received. Who knows, but despite the "Oooo baby" lyrics that tend to dominate i find it gives this a light fluffy feel for a prog pop album. Overall this album is hardly the best ever to grace either the prog or pop world but it is good piece of exactly what it is trying to be. 3.5 but rounded up because it doesn't get enough love in these here parts :)

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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