Published On: Thu, Jun 21st, 2012

Asia, XXX. Album Review.

L.S. Media Rating ****

The British Rock band Asia is one of the very first so called ‘supergroups’. However, unlike others before them that fell by the waysides after a couple of years or a couple of albums as they realised that even one album together was too much, Asia are celebrating 30 years together with the appropriately named album XXX.

As solo artists or key cogs in other band’s machinery, Geoff Downes, John Wetton, Steve Howe and Carl Palmer are sublime, together they bring those key elements that make them stand out and turn into one of the bands of their time.

After 30 years you could expect the four musicians to be taking time to assess whether the music is as important as when they released seminal tracks such as Only Time Will Tell, Heat Of The Moment and Wildest Dreams.  However, if the last studio album, Phoenix and this new release XXX are anything to go by, the music is not just important, it’s vital. Very few bands of their genre and their time manage to combine excellent musicianship with such detailed imagery and deeply profound lyrics as Asia. Perhaps only Marillion and Steve Hackett really are in the same league.

The secret to this obviously lies in the past where the ideas sprung from the early days of Yes for Steve Howe and drummer supreme Carl Palmer’s time in arguably the first ‘supergroup- – Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Tailored and coupled with John Wetton’s and Geoff Downes’ lyrics, XXX delivers in fine and exquisite style, which really should never be doubted.

If the band set out to recapture the energy of the first album, then they surpassed themselves and their combined expectations. The music is more mature as we all get older and wiser.  However it takes good musicians to recognise that. In songs such as Face on The Bridge, the  tremendous Bury Me In Willow, Ghost of A Chance and Tomorrow The World the four musicians perform together with such skill that the album comes across in such a dream like fashion.  There are  elements of ethereal beauty that you feel as though Steve Howe’s guitars and the sublime keyboards of Geoff Downes wouldn’t be out of place in the new wave of Progressive Rock bands such as Touchstone and The Reasoning.

XXX is a well thought out album and it’s absolute pleasure to welcome Asia back.

 

Ian D. Hall

About the Author

- Ian was bought up in Birmingham and has lived for the last eight years in a city he has come to think of as his home. In the last ten years he has worked for two of the finest media organisations it has been his pleasure to be part of, the Birmingham Mail and LSMedia. In the three years he has been part of the team here and has reviewed over 1,000 theatre performances, albums and gigs, travelling as far as Montreal to cover music. His dearest loves are Prog, Heavy Metal, Rock and the theatre.