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Asia (USA) - 1978 Asia

YEAR: 1978
CD REISSUE: 1995, The Wild Places, WILDOO1 (2 on1 with 'Armed To The Teeth')


LINEUP: Michael English - vocals, bass, percussion * Larry Galbraith - vocals, guitars, mandolin * Mike Coates - guitars, mandolin, piano, harpsichord, mellotron, background vocals * John Haynes - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Love May Be Gone * 02 A Better Man For Leaving * 03 The Taming Of The Bull * 04 The Road Of Kings * 05 Law Of The Land * 06 Requiem (A.M Radio Blues)

Before the guys from Yes formed the million selling band from the UK called Asia, there was already an American band of the same name in operation.. This version hails all the way from the unlikely breeding ground of Rapid City South Dakota. The origins of Asia (American version) can be traced back to the group Whitewing who disbanded in 1976. From these proverbial ashes, Asia rose. By all accounts Whitewing had been the victims of a disastrous marketing ploy by record company ASI who tried to promote them as the next Moody Blues. The heavier reality came somewhat as a shock to the many booking agents and club owners at the time. This being the 1970's my theory is that the record company executives were under the influence of substances somewhat stronger than the odd joint. This can surely be the only rational explanation for such an interesting (for interesting read idiotic) decision! Asia were formed, to quote band leader and creative driving force Mike Coates, 'with the express intent of capitalizing on the successes of Whitewing and learning from their failures.' It's difficult for me to define the band's sound as they don't sound derivative of anyone in particular and I find myself grappling with the many superlatives that spring to mind. A crude analogy I guess would be progressive hard rock with symphonic tendencies. Indeed many of the songs on both albums are lengthy workouts characterised by fantastic lead and harmony vocals from singers Michael English and Larry Galbraith and a virtuoso performance on guitar from Mike Coates. To cap it all, the lyrics are both thought provoking and soul searching at the same time.

The Songs
On the self titled debut, Asia create an indelible first impression with 'Love May Be Gone' with its twin hard driving guitars and excellent dual vocals from Michael English and Larry Galbraith. It also has an instrumental bridge sounding reminiscent of 'Detroit Rock City' by Kiss - but don't let that put you off (sorry Kiss fans!). Elsewhere you have the haunting, philosophical 'Better Man For Leaving' and the epic 'Taming Of The Bull'. 'The Road Of Kings' (their first single) is highlighted by it's unforgettable hookline, and one of the few occasions when a mandolin has been used by a hard rock band to great effect (the gauntlet is down for those of you who know of anything better!). The debut closes with the decidedly caustic 'Requiem (A.M.Radio Blues)', which was supposed to be a broadside to the Disco/New wave movement. However, the line 'all those grease paint guys in their nine inch highs' sounds suspiciously like a thinly veiled swipe at the stack heeled self-styled 'Gods of Thunder' Kiss. Given that the band was supposed to have supported Kiss during this period, there must have been some interesting backstage conversations!

In Summary
The band would follow this debut effort with the superior 'Armed To The Teeth', which turned up in 1980. This is reviewed elsewhere on GLORY-DAZE (click Tag link below).

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#1 | Eric on April 19 2007 00:04:09
Both excellent reviews and how many bands can you count from South Dakota?

A couple points should be made. The markreting of White Wing as the next Moody Blues, was not originated by ASI records, but by Billboard Magazine who when reviewing the White Wing album compared it to the Moodies. The label then ran with it.

Second, 'Armed To The Teeth' was not released on ASI. After the Asia debut, the band had had enough of the label, although I do believe ASI handled some distribution for the record.
#2 | gdazegod on April 19 2007 01:10:23
The Barking Dogs website has some more info on the band. The website seems to indicate that ASI were still involved right up to 1980, the album was recorded in their studios.
#3 | Eric on April 19 2007 11:42:43
I met ASI owner Wes Hayne a couple times and we talked a bit about Asia and yes they did record at the ASI studios, but by the time this album was due for release, it was just the studio that was running and not the label who had basically gone belly up by that time. The studio burnt down a short time later and is now a parking lot for a grocery store, just a couple miles from where I live here in the Twin Cities. I looked the album up on a couple price lists and the album shows no label, unlike the first which lists ASI, so perhaps they released it themselves? A mystery...
#4 | Keith Nagy on May 07 2009 02:38:43
Just found this and Armed To The Teeth available on a 2 on 1 from My order just sent in along with the 2 Neon Rose CD's
#5 | MNWild87 on April 17 2013 03:04:18
So Asia the best band from South Dakota. Very strong album. very highly underrated

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