EMI America, 2008
REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/15/2008
With Flux Capacitor fully charged, the boys of the "original" Asia are back from (to?) the future! And let's not confuse this, the "original" Asia, with the recently disbanded Asia. See, there was a band that's been touring and recording as Asia for almost 20 years, led by Geoff Downes and bassist/singer John Payne. Essentially it was Downes, Payne, and whatever guys they could get to fill the guitar and drum slots. It was a continuous revolving door, and they chewed their way through 11 different guitar players. A total of 31 musicians can claim to have been a member of Asia at one time or another, either by recording or touring with the band. What is this, band by committee?
In any case, it seems that Downes unceremoniously dumped the existing replacements when the other three original members needed an influx of cash (or whatever it was that motivated them to regroup). The recently fired former Asia members should not feel bad, though -- on the contrary, take heart in the fact that you had nothing to do with this debacle. Rejoice that your names are not attached to this piece of crap.
Okay, let’s address the actual recording, which involved only four people, although they might have been better off inviting some of their 27 former bandmates to help out. Rather than reach forward, create a vision, be... oh I don't know... original?, Asia revisits the past. Well… plunders and mimics the past is more like it. For their 25th anniversary, they cut this load of dung, Phoenix. They'd have been better off staying in the ashes than trying to resurrect a sound that was mediocre at best 25 years ago, when people might have actually listened to it. Usually I demand of myself two full listens, but this time I was barely able to complete two full rotations of this hopeless mess. I tried hard to find something, even one song, that would redeem this mess, but it was a lost cause.
This is without a doubt the worst example of an unsuccessful 80s rehash that I've ever heard. There isn't an original note or idea in this whole damn album. Hell, they can't even recreate their own sound well! They sound like a parody of themselves. It really sounds like they dug this junk out of a vault after 20 years and released it as new material. Endless keyboard wankering is the biggest culprit. Steve Howe is one of rock's finest guitar players but he's barely heard over the endless wash of synthesizers. The song writing is juvenile and full of vapid, cliché, new age nonsense, while the compositions sound like the background music from a Heaven's Gate recruitment video; it’s boring, unimaginative garbage.
And why are there six slow ballads on this album? This stuff sounded completely stagnant in 1983. It's not retro-cool and it's not fun. For example, the opening track "Never Again" uses exactly the same guitar riff as their first hit "Heat Of The Moment". Sure, why reinvent the wheel? We'll just reuse that tired old garbage that sucked back in the 80s. The tracks "Alibis" and "Shadow Of A Doubt" sound like the backing music for a "we'll save the youth center!" montage from an 80's teen movie with Scott Baio.
Back in the 80s, I couldn't stand Asia. A "supergroup" in name only, it was a wonder to me why they couldn’t even come close to maximizing their potential, exhibiting none of the creativity or vision that had made their parent bands highly successful. After suffering though this, it became clear. The synergy that made Yes, ELP and King Crimson great bands was that their sum was greater than their parts. None of that creative chemistry is present with these four. Never was, never will be.
Gentle reader; avoid this nightmare at all costs.
© 2008 Bruce Rusk and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of EMI America, and is used for informational purposes only.