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Asia - 2012 XXX



ARTIST: Asia
ALBUM: XXX
LABEL: Frontiers
SERIAL: FRCD 560
YEAR: 2012
SPONSOR: Frontiers (Haulix)

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

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

TRACK LISTING: 01 Tomorrow The World * 02 Bury Me In Willow * 03 No Religion * 04 Faithful * 05 I Know How You Feel * 06 Face On The Bridge * 07 Al Gatto Nero * 08 Judas * 09 Ghost Of A Chance

RATING:

WEBLINKS: www.originalasia.com


Background
GDAZE has managed to keep pace with all the recent Asia albums. Their appearance on Frontiers Records has ensured that their legacy continues unabated. Many of us are long time fans, and coupled with output from contemporaries Yes and Saga, commercial crossover prog/AOR still appears to be in good shape. The promo for the latest Asia edition 'XXX' was highlighted via a You Tube clip, and the first thing which struck me was the absolute gorgeous cover. Nothing new in the context of past Asia releases, but this new one struck me immediately! The flying dragons similar to those beasties from the Avatar movie. Many of the songs are quite lengthy; well over six minutes, only the last three clock in closer to five minutes. The XXX for this album title refers to their 30 year anniversary (and not porno as some might interpret.. lol), and though the days of 'Heat Of The Moment', Time Will Tell' and 'Don't Cry' are part of the band's history along with the crisp Mike Stone assisted production, there is a lot to like about 'XXX' even if it doesn't quite ring all the bells for me.


The Songs
Apart from the wistful grand piano entrance, 'Tomorrow The World' leads the new album with gusto. It bounces along in an energetic manner, the occasional synth lead from Geoff Downes intruding into the musical affair. 'Bury Me ln Willow' gallops along merrily too, the prog rock and introspective lyrics may look like something out of a King Crimson storybook but the music has more of a commercial bent, perhaps a hint of John Parr in the mix. 'No Religion' features some harder guitar parts from Steve Howe, this one more of a straight-ahead rocker. 'Faithful' sounds more like a song to be found on a John Wetton solo album rather than an Asia one, while the Supertramp flavoured Wurlitzer influence of 'I Know How You Feel' is not typical of the band's past sound, but is interesting nonetheless. For me, the best song on the album is 'Face On The Bridge', combining a mixture of styles throughout this 6 minute opus. It contains the punchiness of the debut album along with some modern pop rock elements from bands that are probably 30-40 years younger! 'Al Gatto Nero' keeps the energy flowing, an uptempo track with not a hint of balladry to be seen. The same can be said too for the pumping 'Judas', and while not strictly a ballad, the finale 'Ghost Of A Chance' integrates orchestral and progressive parts to finish on a high.


In Summary
Being the 30 year anniversary has made this a special occasion for the band. Not withstanding the aforementioned extra special cover art where the dragon from the debut cover makes a return, but that the original band members are back where they started, considering the many personnel changes that occurred in between years. Asia have kept things straight forward and simplistic, 9 tracks, mostly long, and mostly listenable. There is a camaraderie between these guys that brings out gems of ideas for songwriting purposes and even after all this time those storybook ideas keep flowing. Long may it continue and happy 30th birthday Asia!


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Tags: Asia 
 
Comments
#1 | AOR Lee on July 24 2012 20:33:54
Truly, other than (Elefante) Mastedon's glorious Nowhere Without Your Love, Bury Me In Willow is the only new track to have captivated me since the 90's. Incredible song, and a strong album too
#2 | Eric on July 30 2012 17:14:25
So far this has been my most played disc this year. I do wish there was a bit more punch in the production, but a surperb album all around.
#3 | melodiapositiva on May 11 2016 19:14:24
The two first songs of this album are the best that Asia have done since 1985.Geoff downes work is as always brilliant! .
 
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