ASIA - even if you do not believe it - carries the history of half […]
By Grigoris Chronis
March 28, 2008
Asia - Phoenix album cover

ASIA - even if you do not believe it - carries the history of half the Prog/Pomp Rock in its (at least) four original members. Their long-anticipated (after officially announced) 'return' did mark the expectations/anxiety of millions of fans worldwide for how the new album would - mainly - sound. Well, Phoenix can as well be one of the finest ASIA releases and - for those ultra-concerned - does sound like ASIA.
Three albums in the 80s, for a band genuinely deserving the 'Super Group' title. Steve Howe (solo, YES, GTR) stood next to Carl Palmer (solo, ATOMIC ROOSTER, ELP, THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN) who stood next to Geoff Downes (solo, YES, WETTON/DOWNES) who stood next to John Wetton (solo, KING CRIMSON, ROXY MUSIC, UK, URIAH HEEP, WISHBONE ASH). The result: Asia (1982), Alpha (1983) and Astra (1985) did climb up in really high positions in multiple countries' charts. Not to neglect the b®and's 90's/00's works (where various members did come and go), this era proved to be the 'milestone' one for ASIA. Hence, the anticipation for...
...Phoenix. An album really capable of originally being released back in the mid-80s. The explicit production - courtesy of the entire band - is looking back to the glorious past, and I doubt if this was a planned decision. If not, then the 'reunion' thing has as well the ability of neatness, right? On the other hand, are you waiting for a new Heat Of The Moment, Only Time Will Tell or Don't Cry to accompany your 80s revival in your head? Well, Alibis or Never Again or Shadow Of A Doubt could really 'move' you but - apart from the crying fact that these days are long gone - the impression I got after 5-6 spins was that ASIA does focus mainly on the 'inner' melody of each song and not (mainly, again) on the 'grab this!' hooks scattered in key parts of the tunes.
As for the Songwriting apart from the pre-mentioned tracks' potential(s), the whole vibe of ASIA's current tracklist lays equally on the 'cinema Rock' pompness of dominating keys/multi-vocaling and the touching AOR/melodic-ness of lead singing & guitar leads/fills. ASIA, glorious for their 'see the light shining' harmonies through semi-depressing songbases, the recipe cannot change. Check for I Will Remember You and...the complete 'down tempo' songlist, on second thought. For those familiar with the Wetton/Downes ICON project, much relevant stuff will you unveil in no vain.
Anno 2008, 'original' ASIA strikes back with a good album. Dunno the scope for such a release, since - mainly - the 'then' fan base may not be listening to this kind of music anymore. In any way, Phoenix can apply both to the 'survivors' of that era plus many many AOR/melodic fans looking for the well of inspiration for their adorable bands. Check it out, it's a Frontiers release after all; you know what you'll get.

7 / 10


"Phoenix" Track-listing:

Never Again
Nothing's Forever
Sleeping Giant/No Way Back/Reprise
I Will Remember You
Shadow of a Doubt
Parallel Worlds/Vortex/Deya
Wish I'd Known All Along
Orchard of Mines
Over and Over
An Extraordinary Life

Asia Lineup:

Steve Howe - Guitars
Carl Palmer - Drums
Geoff Downes - Keyboard
John Wetton - Bass & Vocals

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