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On disc: Asia



Phoenix - Claudia Ehrhardt - 8 stars
Omega - Claudia Ehrhardt - 10 stars
Spirit Of The Night / Live In Cambridge 2009 - Claudia Ehrhardt - 8 stars
Spirit Of The Night / Live In Cambridge 2009 - Guido - 8 stars
XXX - Claudia Ehrhardt - 9 stars
Resonance - Claudia Ehrhardt - 9 stars


www.originalasia.com







Resonance

Resonance
(Frontiers Records - 2012)


First information about where the album was recorded confused me, coz Live In Basel Switzerland should have been recorded in Basel - and Asia played in Pratteln's Z7! Okay, most won't know Pratteln and it's only about 20 km from Basel, but...

Anyway, the album was recorded on their 2010 tour and they were promotion Omega and I remember seeing them at that tour. They recorded a live album and DVD which come in a box, but unfortunately I only have the mp3s for reviewing. The show was filmed with 18 cameras and so the DVD will be awesome - I guess, knowing the place they recorded at.

The show began with I Believe, but the first highlight followed with Only Time Will Tell! The awesome foursome put together a set list with a lot classics, but also some new tunes. But the songs took me down memory lane, I saw Asia on their first European tour in October 1982. And so I might not be objective... But I guess most Asia fans will understand that. ;-)

At The Heat Goes On Carl Palmer got the chance to show off his incredible talent, but on CD it isn't as impressive as on DVD, coz you have to watch the man play!

Well, Asia fans should consider to get this release, coz they had a great set. If you own their last live release the decision might not be easy... But I can't help you, it's up to you!


Track listing:

CD1:
I Believe
Only Time Will Tell
Holy War
Never Again
Through My Veins
Don't Cry
Alls A Chord
The Valley Of Rocks
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
Open Your Eyes

CD2
Finger On The Trigger
Time Again
An Extraordinary Life
End Of The World
The Heat Goes On
Sole Survivor
Go
Heat Of The Moment

DVD
I Believe
Only Time Will Tell
Holy War
Never Again
Through My Veins
Don't Cry
All's A Chord
The Valley Of Rocks
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
Open Your Eyes
Finger On The Trigger
Time Again
An Extraordinary Life
End Of The World
The Heat Goes On
Sole Survivor
Go
Heat Of The Moment


9 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

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XXX

XXX
(Frontiers Records - 2012)


Since Asia came back with the original line-up in 2008 they frequently released albums, this one is called XXX (=30) and marks the 30 years since their self-titled album was released. When the four gentlemen reunited for Phoenix. They don't play the big stages these days, but they seem to enjoy playing together and that's audible on XXX.

The opening passage is slow and melancholy, but then they speed up and the song Tomorrow The World gets a more positive vibe. Some references to Yes and the 80's, for long-time Asia fans a real treat! With Bury Me In Willow they present a faster tune with big backings and a catchy hook. A bit poppy, but much better than most of the pop rock stuff you hear on radio. Quite heavy - for Asia - is No Religion, but again they combine memorable melody lines with top-notch playing. One of my faves is I Know How You Feel, for me it's a typical Asia tune - in the most positive way! I love this one, the guitars, keyboard, vocals... and even the drums which stay in the background. This time Asia is a bit calmer... slightly melancholy at times. Give XXX a chance, if you like some of their older stuff.

No need to talk about craftsmanship, these guys are all masters of their trade. That this album is a bit slower, well... they aren't youngsters.


9 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

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Spirit Of The Night / Live In Cambridge 2009

Spirit Of The Night / Live In Cambridge 2009
(Frontiers Records - 2010)


This live album - as well as the DVD - is presenting Asia in the original line-up and with their authentic live sound. And it's this sound which gives the songs a different vibe, in the past the songs were quite bombastic, but now they get a new identity. Especially the vocals show this very well. So singer and bass player John Wetton reminds my on this album of Chris de Burgh. In the past I would have never made this comparison - and I guess many won't see it the way I do. Here and there you hear that they are a bit shaky, but that's the way it is live and it makes them sound even more authentic. It makes them even more likeable, coz they easily could have covered this technically. The masters are from the bands archives and so it seems that it's the way they wanted it. And this authentic sound is what makes the album special. They offer songs from their comeback album Phoenix as well as their classics. A real treat for their fans!


Track list:

01. Only Time Will Tell
02. Time Again
03. An Extraordinary Life
04. My Own Time
05. Open Your Eyes
06. Fanfare For The Common Man
07. Here Comes That Feeling
08. Never Again
09. The Heat Goes On
10. Sole Survivor
11. Don't Cry
12. Heart Of The Moment
13. Midnight Sun (bonus track)


8 stars

Guido
(translation: Claudia Ehrhardt)
 








Spirit Of The Night / Live In Cambridge 2009

Spirit Of The Night / Live In Cambridge 2009
(Frontiers Records - 2010)


Some might criticize that after the release of Omega they now release a live album / DVD from the Phoenix tour, but well sometimes it needs a little more time to get things ready for a release. I guess that if it would be just the CD, then it would have hit the stores before the release of Omega. At the end it doesn't make a big difference, coz in a year or two nobody will care about the release date.
The album starts with the classic Only Time Will Tell, and leads you into an evening with Asia. And they go on with another classic - Time Again. I actually find the drum sound a bit dull... And I remember that it sounded more crisp at the Omega tour. Lead singer and bassist John Wetton's charismatic voice does the trick and hook you up. With An Extraordinary Life they present the first song off Phoenix. The guys are still extraordinary musicians and this light-hearted art rock song soon make you sing along. Steve Howe's guitar is giving this one the special something. After the slow opening of Open Your Eyes they get quite heavy, but the song also offers a great hook line - and gives keyboarder Geoff Downes more space. Even more at their version of Fanfare For The Common Man, a track ELP covered in 1977 at Works Volume 1. Back to their early days with Here Comes The Feeling. Mr. Wetton had a few problems with the high notes at this one, beside that the song sounds fresh even more then 2 decades after it's been released. Asia don't waste time talking, when John Wetton talks to the audience he keeps it short. He isn't a talker, but it seems he talked less that night then he usually does... But at the end of the day you want to hear the music and not the singer talking, so that's fine with me.
Never Again is the only other new song, the rest of the show is old classics (see track list below).
As a bonus track they added Midnight Sun of their sophomore release Alpha.
Unfortunately I have no information about the DVD, but the CD is fun and if you saw them live with Phoenix you will enjoy it even more!


Track list:

01. Only Time Will Tell
02. Time Again
03. An Extraordinary Life
04. My Own Time
05. Open Your Eyes
06. Fanfare For The Common Man
07. Here Comes That Feeling
08. Never Again
09. The Heat Goes On
10. Sole Survivor
11. Don't Cry
12. Heart Of The Moment
13. Midnight Sun (bonus track)


8 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 








Omega

Omega
(Frontiers - 2010)


A new album of the awesome foursome! Asia kick off with Icon's Finger On The Trigger, an up-tempo rocker with a great hook. It has the true Asia feeling and will win you over right away! You'll find yourself singing along the refrain before the first spin ends! Next in line Through My Veins, a keyboard-laden tune with a melancholy edge. John Wetton's vocals ennoble this one. The pick up speed for Holy War, a bombastic rocker which will soon haunt you! With Ever Yours they seem to take you back to Asia... Actually the whole album is authentic 80's Asia, not just the song writing also the production sounds like that. But as Asia always had a high quality production, there is nothing wrong about it. After the emotional Ever Yours it's time to spread some positive vibes... "e;The time is right for dancing..."e; - yes, it is with Listen Children. John Wetton's voice give the slower tunes like End Of The World the special something. But it's the teamwork, the contribution of everyone of the involved musicians. My personal favorite is Emily, the bonus track of the digipak's first pressing. No idea why this one didn't make it onto the regular edition... Perhaps not a typical Asia track, but enchanting! Again Wetton's voice is doing the trick. There Was A Time has a melancholy touch, but it's this sadness which is enthralling. The closer Don't Wanna Lose You Now will make you spin the CD again. The song has all the elements of the Asia sound, and even if nowadays more songs have melancholy touch, the album is fun from A-Z. Enjoy the sonic ride!
I fell in love with Asia before Heat Of The Moment hit the charts and I saw them in fall 1982 on tour. Alpha was a great follow-up, but since then none of their albums got me right away. Phoenix was quite promising, but with Omega they get as close to their masterpiece as possible! Asia still is able to create some magic moments! Kudos!


10 stars

 








Phoenix

Phoenix
(Frontiers - 2008)


I remember very clearly my first reaction when I heart Asia's self-titled debut back in the days. The super group raised high expectations - and the smash hits off that album proofed that they captured the mood. Their combination of rock and pomp with a pop appeal was successful. The awesome foursome recorded 2 albums before the band had to face some changes. Now drummer extraordinary Carl Palmer, guitar wiz Steve Howe, keyboard maniac Geoff Downes and bassist / singer John Wetton are together again. And now they present Phoenix and like a phoenix the arose from the ashes. The album sounds like one of their early albums, this could have been the follow-up of Alpha!
The kick off with Never Again, and it takes me back in time and make me hope they do it again! The opener made me fall in love with Asia again. A keyboard-laden, uplifting anthem! An ear catcher! A cappella they start into Nothing's Forever, a beautiful melancholy tune. Atmospheric and with optimistic moments. Very touching!
With Heroine they offer a piano-based ballad with a symphonic edge and beautiful guitars. Cool tune, but not one which gives you goose bumps. Sleeping Giant / No Way Back / Reprise begins slowly, but the refrain of No Way Back will soon haunt you! Very catchy and very 80's-like. True Asia. But they can top this one with Alibis! The song could have been on Asia or Alpha! The ballad I Will Remember You is enchanting! Touching! Followed by Shadow Of A Doubt, a beautiful tune, partly up-tempo and with a catchy hook. The medley Parallel Worlds / Vortex / Dya is about 8 minutes long and takes you onto a sonic journey. The opening part Parallel Worlds carries a sad note, then they picking up speed - and the songs atmosphere's changing -, but the sadness returns. Steve Howe's guitar is what makes this one special. Wish I'd Known All Along is carried by John Wetton, it's his voice - and his words - which give you shivers. Somehow the song seems not to fit, but at the same time it's one of the tracks which stick out. It's a very intense track is Orchard Of Mines. Atmospheric... touching... Brilliant. Over And Over isn't the highlight of the album, many bands would be happy to write a song like this, but for Asia it's 'just' an average tune. Slowly they come to an end with Extraordinary Life. A balladesque rocker with a soaring hook line. An optimistic tune to end the album.
The European version has additionally Extraordinary Life (acoustic version) as bonus track while the Japanese get I Will Remember You in an acoustic version. I only know the European version, but I really would have love to hear the acoustic version of I Will Remember You!
Wow, what a comeback of the legendary Asia! And I bet the next one will be even better!


8 stars

 

           ©2008-2014 by Claudia Ehrhardt • E-Mail: contact@ice-vajal.com


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