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Supergroups Actually Sometimes Are Super: The Original Asia

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Supergroups are almost always disappointing, the whole (forgive the cliché) usually much less than the sum of its parts.  An exception was the first incarnation of Asia.

I can still – still! – remember the thrill of first hearing “Heat of the Moment” coming out of the car speakers.  Technically, it wasn’t a patch on any of the work done by the band’s four members (John Wetton, Geoff Downes, Carl Palmer, and Steve Howe; but it was melodic and energetic and it just plain rocked.  That first album, Asia, produced several other singles (“Wildest Dreams,” “Only Time Will Tell,” “Sole Survivor”), but “Heat of the Moment” was the best and still retains its charm.

And Then?

I’m cheating a bit by including the band’s second album, Alpha, in this “Then”-review, but I think it’s only fair to do so, because it was a disappointment – universally, I believe – to those of us who were big fans of the first album.  There was a great single, “Don’t Cry,” which sounded sort of like an amalgam of several of the first album’s hits, and there was a killer ballad, “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes” – but most of the rest of the album passed by pretty mildly.  Nor was the production impressive – it lacked the depth and power of the first album.

And Now. . . .

The band is still kicking – rather, kicking again, after many personnel changes through the years.  But for my money (and as much as I like their 2012 album, XXX), it’s that first album that still gives me chills, still reminds me of just what a group of great musicians can do with, essentially, a pop song.


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