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Articles Home » 1983 Articles » Asia - 1983 Alpha
Asia - 1983 Alpha

ALBUM: Alpha
LABEL: Geffen
YEAR: 1983
CD REISSUE: 1990, Geffen, GED 04 008


LINEUP: John Wetton - vocals, bass * Geoff Downes - keyboards * Steve Howe - guitars * Carl Palmer - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Don't Cry * 02 The Smile Has Left Your Eyes * 03 Never In A Million Years * 04 My Own Time (I'll Do What I Want) * 05 The Heat Goes On * 06 Eye To Eye * 07 The Last To Know * 08 True Colours * 09 Midnight Sun * 10 Open Your Eyes


You don't have to go too far to find an Asia fan on this website. The band released three tremendous studio albums between 1982 and 1985, this one 'Alpha' being the second. Asia's 1982's debut was one of the biggest selling AOR albums ever, so it was always going to be a challenge to match that effort with their follow-up. As much as I loved that debut, I like this one even more. I'm not so sure that the songs are as strong, but the whole atmosphere, the reverb soaked synths/strings arrangements from Geoff Downes wins me over everytime. The album was recorded between February and May 1983, and was aimed for release during the Northern summer.

The Songs
There is not much about this album I don't enjoy. From start to finish I think this album has been thrashed more often than not in my household; on vinyl, CD, cassette tape and mp3. The lead single 'Don't Cry' did wonderfully well on the charts, heading into the Top 10. The album too easily went platinum, and made it to No#6 on the album charts. Many pundits considered the album to be over-produced, and I guess when compared to the debut.. it was.. that one containing a few rough edges by comparison. The big sounding but short-timed compositions such as 'The Heat Goes On', 'Midnight Sun' and 'Open Your Eyes' all testament to the rapport between Wetton, Downes and Producer Mike Stone. Not to forget, a Wetton favourite ' The Sun has Left Your Eyes', the dramatic 'True Colors' or the infectious melody drenched 'Never In A Million Years.. with a gazillion vocal overdubs! All super stuff in 1983.

In Summary
The band got into strife not long after the release. John Wetton left the band for personal reasons (creative differences I think was the term used). He was replaced quickly by Greg Lake, who also appeared with the band on the highly publicized 'Asia In Asia' live broadcast on MTV later that year. That union was short lived though, as Wetton returned in time for their incredible 'Astra' album in 1985. Still, if you read what others say about 'Alpha' nearly twenty years later, you'd think this was some sort of pop sell-out. Far from the truth. Under a set of headphones, this album is as sonically brilliant the day it was released. At under $10 on CD these days, you'd be silly not to investigate this enjoyable album.

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#1 | Vincenzo on November 20 2007 22:16:17
Splendid and incredible pomp/AOR album, though I prefer in order: the first self-titled effort (more dynamic and magniloquent) and third 'ultra-chromed' Astra.
#2 | Jez on June 13 2008 04:36:19
After the 'Classic' debut, the pressure was on to produce another album of the same calibre, a task that was virtually impossible with the standards set. There are some classic Asia moments on here 'Never In A Million Years', 'The Heat Goes On' & 'Open Your Eyes' just for three, but the whole thing does sound a little rushed in the songwriting dept.(a fact that they admitted too later on) & leaves it a little disjointed in places. It's still a quality album, but nowhere close to the first one.
#3 | rostoned on July 30 2008 23:28:27
'Daylight' and 'Lying To Yourself' were the non LP b-sides of the 'Don't Cry' and 'The Smile...' singles. Both are good, especially the latter. They've been reissued on a recent Asia best of 'Heat Of The Moment' and on the 'Anthologia' 2 CD set which includes every track from their first 4 Geffen albums.
#4 | Eric on September 19 2009 18:28:55
This album is really weak in comparison to the debut. Tried to listen to it yesterday and halfway through I pulled it out of the CD deck bored shitless. I still quite like 'Open Your Eyes', but much of the album really does sound rushed with a lot of filler.

I saw one of the last shows with Wetton in Toronto and I remember little if any audience interaction. He was fed up I imagine and the remaining dates with Lake collapsed halfway through with the tour canceled altogether.
#5 | trillion1999 on October 17 2011 16:17:13
I love this album together with Daylight.I still rue the day when I passed on all three Asia-albums in Japanese sleeve-CD-format in a legendary record-store that is no more except for online.Sad
#6 | melodiapositiva on April 30 2013 18:34:01
a work of art, what mr. downes do with his keyboards in this album is amazing .My favorite album ever.
#7 | gdazegod on April 30 2013 21:36:04
I still play it regularly. Just added it to my Spotify playlist, so gets a workout on the train into work, which is where Spotify comes in real handy!
#8 | super80boy on June 07 2014 15:25:11
Although many people and industry reviewers give this a bad rap, it's quite consistent and good for what it is, a more AOR oriented approach vs. progressive rock. There are still big sweeping melodic arrangements that were one of their hallmarks. 'The Heat Goes On' is excellent with its pomp intentions. 'Eye To Eye' is short, but another favorite, along with 'True Colors' and its booming chorus…and of course the closer 'Open Your Eyes' is epic…The debut and this follow up need to be reviewed on their own separate merits, not compared. This is a great album…
#9 | rostoned on March 09 2018 21:10:21
A japanese CD bootleg of studio rehearsals of Alpha called "Alpha Beta" (Highland Project label) reveal an extended and beautiful version of "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes" which clocks at almost 6 minutes and sports a beautiful instrumental section absent from the released version! A true John Wetton penned masterpiece in love
#10 | jeffrey343 on March 13 2018 20:15:42
I remember being really disappointed with this when I got it right when it came out. I was in high school for both albums, so my general environment was the same - laying on the couch listening to music on my home stereo or watching MTV. So I can't blame it on that. I think this one just lacked the energy of the debut, plus I didn't hear the songs on the radio or MTV as much. I've given it more listens the past several years. It's grown on me some more, but to me it'll never match the debut. Having said that, I do really enjoy five of the ten songs (1, 2, 3, 5, 8).
#11 | gdazegod on March 13 2018 20:34:53
My impression of this album back in 1983 hasn't changed. IT worked for me back then, and still does now. The keyboard textures are just lovely. I prefer this over the debut, and it ranks second only to 'Astra'. Strange how people can see and hear things differently, but that's music for ya!
#12 | melodiapositiva on March 14 2018 16:42:04
I agree with George ,this was my first vinyl and i have the cassete and the cd also ,always loved it.Those "keyboard textures" are simply amazing ,better than on the first album imho,and that´s what makes G. Downes my favourite musician ever ,HE is Asia !
The only thing that could be better is the production ,for me this album never sounded "clear" on any format .I don´t know if the japanese version mends this problem or any other version ,i would buy it without doubt.
#13 | jeffrey343 on March 21 2018 16:18:50
I was a bit hasty on my comment last week. For some reason, I've been playing the heck out of this and Astra lately. On this one, I think it just got crowded out by some harder-edged albums when I got it. The first one was overall more up-tempo than this one, and the more mellow songs on here didn't appeal to me as much at the time. But now, over 34 years later, I'm really digging it.
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