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Asia - Alpha CD (album) cover




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2.79 | 296 ratings

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3 stars The follow up to the massive hit debut album, the wheels fell off the bandwagon with this one. It still did well commercially, although not as well as the first, and the cracks in the band's unity appeared, leading to years of feuds. In addition, the production makes it sound as if the band are playing down a telephone line from Antarctica.

Don't Cry is, of course, the Heat Of The Moment type single to set things off. It isn't as good, and is bland without being insulting.

There are, however, still some magical moments and songs on the album. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes is a grandiose piece of pomp rock, and Wetton and Downes are magnificent on it. Actually, therein lies half of the problem with this. Steve Howe has been virtually produced and engineered out of proceedings, so whereas for the debut he was clear as a bell and by far the most important contributor, with this, and this track in particular, you have to struggle to hear him clearly. No wonder he left.

Never In A Million Years is a very good pop rock track, and once again dominated by Geoff Downes parp parping away. Likewise My Own Time is a fine pomp rock track, with a cracking chorus which sounds even better singing along after more than a few beers!

The highlight for me, though, is Midnight Sun, which is a glorious track, and amongst the finest any of them ever put down on vinyl. Sensitive, well played, emotional, it is a great track which puts you in mind of the fact that you knew the band were so much more capable than much of what is included on this album. It is also, and this is, of course, no coincidence, Steve Howe's finest contribution, featuring some incredible work.

Pardon the pun, but this album is no progression from the first. It was an attempt to create more of the same, and that was a mistake. Whereas the first one was a masterpiece of its kind, this one is merely a good rock album, and one that clearly would have benefited from the band taking a lot more time over all aspects of writing, recording, and playing.

Three stars for this. A good album, but one which has non essential written all over the wondrous Roger Dean cover creation.

lazland | 3/5 |


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