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Asia Asia album cover
3.20 | 579 ratings | 101 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1982

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Heat of the Moment (3:54)
2. Only Time Will Tell (4:48)
3. Sole Survivor (4:51)
4. One Step Closer (4:18)
5. Time Again (4:48)
6. Wildest Dreams (5:11)
7. Without You (5:07)
8. Cutting It Fine (5:40)
9. Here Comes the Feeling (5:40)

Total Time 44:17

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Howe / guitars, vocals
- Geoffrey Downes / keyboards, vocals
- John Wetton / bass, lead vocals
- Carl Palmer / drums, percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Roger Dean

LP Geffen Records ‎- GEF 85577 (1982, UK)
LP Geffen Records - GHS 2008 (1982, US)

CD Geffen Records ‎- 2008-2 (1982, Germany)
CD Audio Fidelity ‎- AFZ 068 (2010, US) Remastered by Kevin Gray

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Guillermo for the last updates
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ASIA Asia ratings distribution

(579 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(33%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (8%)

ASIA Asia reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
1 stars 1,5 stars really!

One of those album I love to hate , and one of the worst piece of crap that would be included in these Archives . Well I'm exagerating a bit to drive my point home as everyone of their later records will exceed the crappiness of this one . This may not sound very charitable a comment especially given the superb line-up of the band , but with this album , clearly the 80's were not to be a musical decade for me.

At the time, this was one of my first acquaintance with Wetton's vocals (outside of Crimson) and they are so horrendous on here that it took me years to actually give him another chance, as I always thought he was copying Greg Lake's timber by this time. He is not the only one to be deceptive because although most of the tracks are still "prog" per se, and the songwriting is obviously professional (and so very commercial), there is almost absolutely no space for music to expand. Almost all tracks follow the Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-10 second solo-Verse-Chorus formula that a normal proghead quickly becomes disgusted.

The two or three MTV videoclips were certainly not helping me liking them, either , but apparently a lot of progheads were preparing for the lean prog decade by accepting to eat mices and rats instead of beef and chicken.

Review by Menswear
3 stars In this website, there's so much 5 stars that it kinda doesn't mean anything anymore. 3 stars, is very acceptable. And this record, is acceptable. One day, Mike Rutherford, underrated mastermind of Genesis, said ( in substance): 'People are ingrates. They cannot understand that we can appreciate many types of music. If you deviate from Genesis Gabriel-period, they say that you betray what you done before. Genesis is a sacred cow that must just do what it does. Is it so hard to understand that it is possible to like more than one thing?' Amen my bearded brother. Many groups suffers from prejudice that they MUST do what they did before. Hey, do you listen to the same music over and over again? I hope most of you have more interest in music than prog, because you're missing a lot of good stuff... like ASIA for instance.

Asia was a treat for Palmer, Howe and Wetton. More like a new dessert that you want to try. Why not accepting it? I mean, George Harisson did the Are Chrisna thing, Lennon the Plactic Ono Band and Ringo Starr acted in movies. Does that mean that you forget what the Fab Four done? Plus, Wetton have such a great voice in Heat of the Moment. It's poppy, but it's still a very decent 4 minute song!! More, ask Howe if he wanted to play with Yes all the time. Man, seeing the same people over and over again is unhealthy (I don't know how nerds-super-friends-posses do it). Without the shadow of a doubt, ASIA had a ball recording it. It probably felt good to everyone to try something new, to explore a lighter side of progressive rock. It'a normal to tend to the idea that you won't play Tarkus or Starship Trooper all your damn life. What a bore. Proggers, give those guys a break for doing what they like.

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is accessible pop progressive rock. ASIA is a supergroup, i.e. each member comes from a different band.

Geoff Downes' keyboards are very modern, varied and never bland. Steve Howe's guitar is melodic, catchy and accessible. John Wetton's bass is good, and his voice is excellent, as always. Carl Palmer's drums are good, not too sophisticated. They put the accent on accessibility and popularity instead of technical performance. There are very good backing vocals too. Still in the 21st century, it is always pleasant to rediscover it.

Review by daveconn
4 stars I was in high school when ASIA came out, which somehow seemed to make a bad thing worse. Now that I'm not surrounded by people in black t-shirts with Roger Dean artwork badly ironed on, I can appreciate ASIA's debut as a landmark in arena rock, however dubious a distinction that may be. By bringing together members of YES and ELP (plus the Lake-like John Wetton on bass/vocals), ASIA was expected to fill the void left by those bands, but they took it a few steps further by delivering progressive rock's epic sound in the context of mainstream rock songs. The result isn't so far removed from Greg Lake's earlier tales of romance, at least in spirit, but where Lake's songs were pretty Wetton's are powerful; teenage boys who may have liked "Still. You Turn Me On" but were waiting for someone else to admit they liked it first had no trouble publicly pledging their allegiance to songs like "Heat of the Moment" and "Only Time Will Tell".

While this record almost single-handedly established the profitability of arena rock, it's worth noting that upon its release some progressive rock fans were less than pleased. It's true that ASIA invites comparison to ELP ("Time Again") and YES (in Steve Howe's guitar work) some of the time, but many of those band's principles seem to have been thrown out the window along the way. Because those groups themselves had waned in recent years, the change was subtle for some, and in fairness it's unlikely that the four members actively sought to sell out so much as find a common ground for their musical talents. If the material wasn't up to past successes, it's some of the best work any of them have done since. "One Step Closer", one of Howe's catchiest melodies yet, "Cutting It Fine" and "Here Comes the Feeling" are all good tracks. "Sole Survivor" and "Wildest Dreams" are a little overwrought (ELP did a better job of addressing love and war on the same album), but it's apparently part of Wetton's lyrical vision.

A discussion of the band's debut would be incomplete without citing how much better this album is than any of ASIA's subsequent efforts. Was it the beneficiary of stockpiled songs, a creative union destined to implode after one record, an idiot savant of an album created in a blissful vacuum of expectations? Whatever the reasons, the album struck a chord with millions (nine, to be exact), and remains an indelible part of the '80s.

Review by Proghead
1 stars This album is crap. As a big prog rock fan like myself, I find it really pathetic that musicians of this class (Steve Howe, John Wetton, Carl Palmer, Geoff Downes from bands like YES, ELP, KING CRIMSON, etc.) would lower themselves to writing pedestrian pop crap for the masses. Maybe some prog elements do show up like on "Time Again", but nothing to really write home about. Since I grew up in the '80s, I heard "Heat of the Moment" and "Only Time Will Tell" played on the radio all the time, and I could barely stomach those songs. And the worse thing, is their debut is usually regarded as their best album. ASIA is a prime example of what went wrong with the prog rock scene in the early '80s.
Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars I give this terrible album 1 star only because of "Heat of the Moment", that was a huge pop hit. But, J. Wetton (from my fav incarnation of K.CRIMSON) et al. doing this staff? C'mon be serious! I totally agree with Proghead in this review and I only wonder how on earth they managed to regularly issue albums up until now!? I still have this miserable LP record with me and I even played it again recently, just for experiment: sensation was the same when I had mistakenly bought it 1982 upon realease - it made me vomit.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I never consider this album is prog, or even other albums of this band. What is prog, anyway? The only prog is the players: ex YES, ELP, KING CRIMSON. Before I listened to it, I thought that I would experience a spectacular prog music from the prog masters. But I was shocked when I was listening to the first track which was purely "pop" rock music. So, it's a mainstream rock I would say. Nevermind, I enjoy mainstream rock also. So, I listen to this CD for a change only if I got bored with other kind of prog. Some tracks are great such as "Time Again", "Wildest Dream" and "Without You". They remind me on my college years. Some tracks a sucks ... like "Heat of The Moment", "Sole Survivor", "Here Comes The Feeling". OVERALL, this album is for a change only. If you are really a prog lover, don't buy this CD. You would definitely regret. But if you enjoy GTR, Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple, you may like this album. Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia.
Review by richardh
3 stars Asia's debut album.Now do we call this progressive rock? Answer NO! Good got that out of the way. Second question is it any good? Answer Yes! There are some good songs on here but the intention was to make a radio friendly album,something the band made no secret of.Hence the best music is on side 2 (vinyl wise) where they allow some expansion of ideas and more closely related to prog music.Wildest Dreams has Carl Palmer giving the bass drum a good working plus some decent anti-war lyrics.Without You is a very nice 'power ballad' and allows Steve Howe to excel with some impressive guitar work.Cutting It Fine is my favourite track on the entire album -great lyrics about the breakdown of a relationship and Geoff Downes instrumental peice at the end is beautifull.Overall this is not a masterpeice and no one can seriously make that claim.It's not even essential but still worth looking for in the bargain bucket section of the CD store it if you are a fan of any of the musicians present.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I remember when this was first released and being a bit disappointed with the album. After a few listens I really got to love the album ESPECIALLY Wetton's vocals. Now listening to it the other day I could not get over how dated it sounded.Great memories but not music that lives and breathes and escapes the shackles of date stamps.' Wildest dreams' the high point. I do like Geoff Downes though, drama and all!
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Palmer + Wetton + Howe + Downes = er, pop!

OK, the band was formed by four people with proud prog rock heritages, and yes they didn't exactly come up with what was expected of them. I am prepared however to put that aside, and take Asia for what they were/are: purveyors of high quality, hugely enjoyable melodic rock.

Every song has a strong hook, and an infectious melody. The band members are all masters of their crafts, so it goes without saying that the musicianship is of the highest quality. From the opening "Heat of the moment", the soaring guitars, and big sounding keyboards provide the perfect complement to John Wetton's criminally underrated singing ability. "Only time will tell" is slightly softer, not exactly a ballad, but put together with obvious care and attention.

If you enjoy the these first two tracks, your set for an enjoyable album, as they are perfect indicators of the formula for the tracks (and indeed albums) to come.

It has to be said that Asia rarely made true progressive rock, and because of this, I have restricted the star rating accordingly. That said though, it is a fine album, which most aficionados of prog will probably enjoy.

Review by Guillermo
4 stars In the eighties times and music have changed. To survive, many prog bands and musicians had to listen to record label executives to continue working. So, Asia was one of the new bands, a supergroup, which had to make compromises to record albums. One of these compromises was to record an album with a mixture of pop and prog rock. So, this first album was recorded with both markets in mind: the long time prog fans and the pop fans (a new market to conquest). And the results of this album are very good. This album still has some progressive arrangements. It seems that Steve Howe was really "inspired" in this album. His guitar work is superb. Carl Palmer was playing very good too. John Wetton had a great voice and played his bass good. Geoff Downes brought his pop influence from The Buggles to this album, and his keyboards shine too. I liked this album very much when it was released, and now that I have the CD I still like it very much. In 1982 I was 17 years old, I was in High School and I played drums in an amateur band, and I also bought an Asia t-shirt with the cover of this album printed in it and I went to play some gigs with this t-shirt. I was a teenager then, and I smile to those years. Asia was part of those years and it brings me good memories.As this album is not entirely progressive, it is not essential for extreme progressive fans, but it is a good choice for people who understand neessary changes in music styles to keep music alive.
Review by frenchie
1 stars I picked this up in a local vinyl store for 50p...because it was only 50p. I remember seeing them on here so i thought i would give em a try and review them. I found two good things about this album. Steve Howe on the guitar and Roger Dean artwork. Meh.

This album is made in 1982, and it shows really. It sounds like an offspring of 90125 by YES. I would have to say it sounds worse. This album is just mindless "pop prog" that was spawned in the eighties. For something steve howe is on, his guitar work is incredibly dull and uninspiring. It pains me to think that 10 years before this album, Close to the Edge was made which blew my mind with the incredible guitar work by the same bloke. Whatever happened to my rock n roll?

This album is a journey of crappy synth, happy happy pop tunes and diabolical musicianship from people who were once... well a hell of a lot better than this. Are these the things that are reprsented when we think of the asians? A very poor debut album and i expect it doesn't get any better after this. For a supergroup, they ain't so super.

The album sometimes has ok-ish moments but they last for about a second or two and its rubbish again. The singer is awful and just sounds like he is actually having no fun making this album. What is the point? Oh well... stay away from this one, that's 50p down the drain.

Review by Matti
3 stars Maybe the very first album of prog (or at least related to prog) I ever heard - at the age of 14. So it must have had an influence on my then developing taste. But it's the only Asia album I appreciate. There is a simple reason why this is the best Asia: these songs had time to mature unlike Alpha's which was done in a hurry. And then the decay of the lineup... I've heard only one later Asia album and found it REAL crap.

Here only 'Heat of the Moment' sounds too AOR to me. I remember how powerfully e.g. 'Without You' and 'Here Comes the Feeling' grabbed me. A suitable amount of strong emotion and bombastic playing - and delicious progressive touch also. Never mind the lousy lyrics. Sadly Downes and Howe don't play as innovatively as on Drama, but occasionally you hear the relation. Years later when I shifted temporarily away from prog, this was - with Marillion's Script - the most hard to listen to of all my earlier favourite albums. I guess nowadays I might enjoy this every now and then - or maybe I still would get irritated by Wetton's nearly shouting singing style.

Review by Tony Fisher
4 stars The songs are great; full of catchy hooks and played to near perfection. You can sing along to some of the choruses too (must mean two stars off for that) and you may even find some of the tunes stay with you so you hum them (another one gone). Wetton is a very good singer (Wishbone Ash proved that), all the instrumentalists are of the highest order which, in Geoff Downes case, was a surprise. Heat of the Moment is my favourite but Only Tme Will Tell, Sole Survivor and Time and Time Again come close - no track is less than good. Why not 5 stars? Just doesn't quite grab the gonads and squeeze like the very best do - but still a great debut.
Review by Progbear
1 stars I refuse to be apologist for this appalling product of marketing manipulation. Don't patronize me, I know what good pop music sounds like, and it's not this. What this really was was a lot of talented musicians paying more attention to what their management, record companies and accountants were suggesting than following their own musicianly instincts. And opening most of the tracks with bombastic synth fanfares does not a prog album make. That Steve Howe was involved in this tripe hurts especially. (And then he form GTR. Does the agony never end?) Horrid 80's corporate AOR, definitely not recommended.
Review by Snow Dog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars What a stellar line up and what a great debut for Asia. How best t to describe the music on this album? I'd say prog lite AOR, showing that a British band can do it better than the template made by famous American AOR bands like Boston etc.

First we have the packaging, and what a wonderful thing it is to behold, a brand new Dean logo and new cover art. The whole thing is very eye catching with the Asia Logo probably being his best thing since he created his "Yes" one.

Starting procedures we have "Heat of the Moment" which is pretty straightforward rock tune. Sole Survivor is another stand out with a nice instrumental section within. In fact all the tracks are excellent, but the proggiest are probably "Time Again" and "Wildest Dreams" both, especially the latter having exceptional drumming by Palmer. In fact the whole band plays very well throughout and I must make special note of Howe's guitar playing. He just makes that guitar soar sometimes, makes you feel good inside.

When I first bought this album I couldn't stop playing it, I felt it was that good, but unfortunately the second album failed to deliver in the same way... But that is another story!

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars Asia. Of all the bands on these archives, I don't believe there is another that generates such a wide range of emotions and opinions. Indeed, their debut album is one of the very few on these archives that has (as of this writing) double-digit ratings in each of the five star categories.

And why not? The lineage of the members who made up this first incarnation were truly impressive. The inimitable Steve Howe who, for all his vapid personality, could (and can) certainly lay down some incredible licks on the guitar. Geoff Downes' keyboards are just as impressive. On this and subsequent albums they tend toward the ostentatiously 'clever', though when compared to his output with Yes I don't know that prog fans should have expected any different. Carl Palmer's drum work is a bit more subdued here than some of his expansive work with ELP, but again, nothing to cause alarm or invite derision. Indeed, if I had to point to the one member of the group who seemed to invite more controversy than any other when Asia debuted in 1982, it was probably John Wetton, who had a few largely non- descript years with King Crimson to his resume, but nowhere near the name recognition or reputation of the other members. And yes, at times he seemed to be trying to effect a duller semblance of Greg Lake than most prog fans were comfortable with, but frankly his voice was more listenable than any other the group had to offer.

For die-hard Yes, ELP, and KC fans of the late seventies (those who were clear- headed enough to have opinions at the time anyway), there were undoubtedly huge expectations of this new 'super group' of art rock gods. The onslaught of the punk revolt was finally wearing off by then, as most of its progeny had managed to extinguish themselves by 1982. The advent of MTV though, was fast ensuring that any music of substance, and particularly that with such non-photogenic practioners as prog music tended toward (ie., Ian Anderson, Steve Howe, and pretty much all of Kansas, and Uriah Heep), was fast finding its way into the cutout bins. Those who managed to survive the cut (Genesis, ELP, Yes) did so by shearing their long hair into blow-dried mullets, donning ridiculously pretentious stage wear (and you thought the mask and the red dress was as silly as things could get?!), and finding ways to snip out any variations on a theme in their music that couldn't be squeezed into four minutes of vinyl. Progressive, original, creative music, as all of us who lived through it were painfully aware, was dead or dying.

So along comes the likes of Marillion, a somewhat reconstituted Saga, Yes with 90125, and whatever it was Genesis called what they were doing. Progressive? Certainly not. Creative? Probably not. Deeply meaningful? You've got to be kidding. But what many of these groups offered, most particularly Asia, was listenable music that was, if nothing else, of the highest technical quality available for mass consumption at the time. While many bands were raking in millions of dollars and amassing piles of gold and platinum record awards more with mascara, hairspray, and cheesy videos than with any talent to speak of, the four men of Asia were at least providing a solid list of tracks with highly professional musicianship and tight arrangements. It was frankly as much as we could expect at the time, and to be honest, after years of increasing pomposity on the part of many aging prog groups, it was something of a nice breather.

Heat of the Moment was of course an MTV and AOR radio darling in the early 80's. It was also a song that had no lyrical relevance of any noticeable sort. But, the keyboards were upbeat, the bass and drumline very well arranged, and Steve Howe actually managed to show some discipline in his guitar work, as opposed to some of the virtuous but self-absorbed times of his days in Yes (see "Gates of Delirium"). I'd give this four stars - in fact, I just did.

Only Time Will Tell was the track that gave Asia an early reputation for somewhat barbershop quartet-like harmonizing (I sometimes wonder if this is where Spock's Beard got the idea) but again, the musicianship was top-notch and tightly produced. In 1982 I listened to this song many times, and even now nearly a quarter-century later, I wouldn't put it on a greatest hits compilation, but I still enjoy an occasional listen. Three stars for this one.

Sole Survivor is, in my very humble opinion, the best track on this album. It has all the suggestions of a progressive song - a vaguely Tolkein-ish theme, extremely pleasant-sounding drum work by Carl Palmer that tracks very well to the subtle bass, and meandering keyboards that left me with a slightly different impression every time I listened to it back then. Steve Howe's guitar work is soaring, and also manages to fit in with the rest of the music instead of clash or dominate it. This is the one I felt best fit with the very excellent Roger Dean artwork on the cover. By the way, nothing sounds technically better than digital, I'll be the first to admit, but I sure do miss the pleasure of poring over that big twelve-inch square of art and accompanying linear notes that came with vinyl albums. Jewel cases have nothing on that! Anywa, this is easily a four-star song.

One Step Closer was the one track on this album that didn't really appeal to me. It sounded more like a pop dirge, if I could imagine what a pop dirge should sound like. Didn't go over all that well in 1982 either, and many of us that liked to commit our albums to cassette left this one out. Two and a half stars.

Tim Again reminded me then, and still reminds me, of a Yes song. I'm just not sure which one. Howe's guitar dominates, not a bad thing, but much more so than anywhere else on the album. Palmer's drums seem a better fit for a live concert setting, and in fact this was a popular live track for many years for the band. The keyboards are quite interesting and varied, and this is another work that would likely have been considered more progressive if a few minutes of instrumental variation or improvisation had been thrown in. Another three star work.

Wildest Dreams is very much like Sole Survivor, in other words, what a bunch of progressive musicians would sound like if they were trying to resurrect and old Rick Wakeman renaissance work as an eighties pop tune. I really have no idea what the wild dreams are about on this track, and aren't interested enough after all these years to try and find out. It's a decent song, but nothing particularly special. Three stars.

Without You was kind of a throwaway track. I wonder if the band had some sort of fleeting thoughts of fleshing this out into a longer work, but either lost interest, or were convinced not to by their pop-minded management. Anyway, two stars.

Cutting it Fine has actually grown on me over the years. At the time I found it to be another song that leaned more toward filler, yet another reminder of just how tired many of us had gotten of longer songs that seemed to serve no purpose other than amuse the band. Now, years later, I see it as a somewhat nostalgic nod by the band to their grander years when audiences would happily sit bleary-eyed and listen to bands amuse themselves. Two and a half stars.

Here Comes the Feeling strikes me as having been written for the specific purpose of closing the album. It is somewhat improvisational, has no clear theme or commercial attraction, but does serve to justify this as a proper album and not a long EP. Howe and Palmer seem to be the only band members who are still interested at this point. Two stars.

In all, Asia's debut is, almost by definition, a three star effort. I'd give it four if the time at which it was released were factored in, and probably two if it had been released ten years earlier. But all things considered, it's a very good album that is certainly worth a listen from time to time, although not anything that's likely to show up on anyone's must-have list. It is, though, the best studio album they would release until Arena nearly fifteen years (and three band members) later.


Review by Tom Ozric
3 stars At a glance, this superb line-up (a 'super-group' of sorts) of high calibre prog musicians would suggest a high quality release - I don't mean to reiterate, in a round-about way what's already been said, but the music performed here is the sort of thing these guys can do with their eyes closed and hands tied behind their back - all that aside, as long as one doesn't expect mega complex prog mini-epics, this album stands on its own as a strong pop/rock album with occasional spurts of technical flash. All songs are quite catchy, melodic and memorable - maybe too much so. The few points worth mentioning about the individuals involved (Carl Palmer - drums, John Wetton - bass, Geoff Downes - keys and Steve Howe - guitar) is that Wetton really gives his all with the vocals but he's relatively sedate with the majority of his bass parts, Howe performs as he does with Yes, maybe a bit 'heavier' even. Geoff Downes has a large array of keyboards and synths (somewhere I read his rig consisted of 23 different keyboards) , and somehow manages to utilise all of them at some point throughout the album. Carl Palmer's role is strictly perfunctory as he is capable of so much more, but then the songs don't call for extravagant playing in this department, though he can throw in some double bass and well placed fills here and there. The songs, in a nut-shell, range from arena-rockers (Heat of The Moment, One Step Closer) to power-ballads (Only Time Will Tell, Without You, Here Comes The Feeling) to a more accessible prog style with the tracks Sole Survivor, Time Again, Wildest Dreams and Cutting it Fine, all very, very good songs. All in all, the album is definately decent enough (3 stars), but after this release, it was all down-hill. I gather the intention behind this project was never to be full-blown Prog, but to hit the airwaves and, well, sell out. I think they succeeded.
Review by russellk
1 stars This album is poor.

It is poor not because it is power-pop. There are some excellent power-pop tunes around. It is poor not because it's such a disappointment: a prog super-group seemingly trying to cash in. No, it is poor because the compositions are poor.

'Heat of the Moment' is the world's introduction to ASIA, and it signals what this group is about. An ordinary composition dressed up with every musical trick in the book to make it sound like a power-pop standard. Unfortunately for ASIA, songs become hits because of compositional merits. (Or, at least, they did in this era, though nowadays it is increasingly uncertain.) I don't care what genre an album is from, I'll enjoy it if the compositions have merit. These do not.

To my mind there is only one group of people who ought to buy this album: those for whom the 'hits' are part of their growing-up years. In other words, nostalgia for those born around 1970. The rest of us really need not bother.

Review by NJprogfan
4 stars I have a very soft spot for this album. When it came out, prog was at an all time low. In fact, I'll wager you couldn't name 10 prog albums that were TRULY prog that came out in 1982, (being a fan of Symphonic prog, its a task). When this album came out, it happened to have been a staple of the early days of MTV video-wise. Even our local radio stations played the heck out of "Heat Of The Moment" and "Only Time Will Tell". Bombastic prog- pop, I didn't care, all the players I adored and just the fact that they were being played on TV and radio made me want to jump up and down clapping my hands. I just played this album to death. Come 2004, when I finally bought the disc and played it for the first time I was whisked back to my younger days and I felt good. Sure, it's not complicated prog with mulitiple time changes, but the SOUND was like taking the hookiest parts of prog songs and wrapping them with Wetton's multi-layed vocals. It sounds like heaven to me and to this day I enjoy popping it out and blasting it. Howe's guitar never sounded so sweet and controlled and I enjoy listening to Palmer's steady hands. I'll enjoy this album until the day I die and I think, given the category it's listed in, deserves at least 4 stars.
Review by Hercules
3 stars Asia are one of the most reviled groups in rock history. When punk swept the monsters of prog rock away, they took one of 3 routes. Some, like ELP, Druid and Gryphon, simply packed up or died. Some, like the remnants of Genesis and Yes, went commercial. A few, like Camel, stayed true to prog whilst modernising their approach.

Asia formed in the early 80s from the remnants of Yes, ELP and King Crimson (via Wishbone Ash). Rapidly hailed as a "supergroup", this album was their first release and has sold over 9 million copies to date. This is no surprise; the album is undeniably prog in its heritage but the style is much more commercial with all 9 songs being around the 4/5 minute mark. There are no 20 minute epics here! This is probably where the revulsion comes from; some cannot cope with prog that is designed to sell.

The musicianship is generally of a very high order, though I do not feel that Steve Howe really matches the rest of the band; this is some of his least inspired work and I never felt he was really in the very top rank of guitarists anyway. Geoffrey Downes should have been the weak link but is surprisingly effective. John Wetton's voice, however, is quite superb throughout. The songs often have catchy, singalong lyrics and choruses. All are good, enjoyable songs but none really stands out. I like all of them but love none.

Clearly this is not a masterpiece but it is enjoyable and still worth 3.5 stars, rounded down because I could actually live without it if I had to. It certainly is far better than any of their subsequent efforts.

Review by Gooner
5 stars Now, Now...folks! One must keep things in perspective when thinking of Asia. Just because Asia delivered choruses within their prog.rock does not a bad band make. Compare them with all the other stuff on the airwaves at the time, and Asia weren't too shabby. There's plenty of excellent instrumental work in between the choruses and catchy licks. Clearly, this is the Steve Howe and Carl Palmer show. The track "Time Again" is a prog.rock classic as far as I'm concerned with some times changes that rival the greats - and some of Steve Howe's best guitar runs. Heck, it wouldn't have sounded out of place on the Yes - "Drama" LP. Carl Palmer sounds like he's having on this one, rather than his usual clinical playing. The track "Here Comes The Feeling" takes the cake for best unknown hit EVER! Yeah...I'm afraid to say I enjoyed Asia when they came out...and it's certainly far and above in quality to the Yes reunion in the '80s and what Genesis put out after "Abacab". This first Asia album gets a humble 4 stars from this listener...and I'm more prone to enjoying Soft Machine, King Crimson and Camel. But what the heck...this was the '80s...and Asia delivered in aces! Thanks to Geoff, Steve, John & Carl for the excellent "songs". A masterpiece of "Top 40" prog.rock(if that genre exists).
Review by progrules
2 stars Asia was one of the rare bands trying to bring live into prog music in the beginning of the eighties. We probably should thank them for that because what would have happened with prog if they wouldn't have been there. For a long time I wasn't really aware of Asia and what they sounded like. So I bought their first album to find out. For the record: I liked prog as Marillion played it back then or Rush for instance. But I didn't know (and still don't) what to make of this. This sounds like pop music with a little more substance than the average. But prog ? No, not really to my believe. Of course we can analyse each song, what it sounds like etc. but I don't really feel like it. With every song I heard I got more and more disappointed hoping they would bring more prog elements in the songs but it didn't happen.

The only thing I have doubts about is the number of stars. It's somewhere between 2 and 3. The music isn't really awful but it's just not the prog I hoped for. And since this is a progsite I have to round down to 2 (2.5 actually).

Review by Mellotron Storm
2 stars When it was anounced that former and current members of YES, ELP and KING CRIMSON were forming a band, there must have been a buzz in the prog community at that time. That buzz soon turned into the sound of air being let out of the prog tires. The only thing prog about this album was the Roger Dean cover.

I feel the same way about this album as I do GENESIS' "Invisible Touch" record. It seems clear that Wetton, Howe, Downes and Palmer were out to make some money, and in that they were successful. Back in the early eighties I was into Metal, but I was very familiar with the first two tracks of this album "Heat Of The Moment" and "Only Time Will Tell" as they were all over the radio back then. And I suppose that is the only redeeming thing about this album as the first two songs do take me back to a good time in my life. The final track sort of sums it up for me "Here Comes The Feeling", you know, the feeling you get when your going to be sick.

Review by TGM: Orb
4 stars Review 6, Asia, Asia, 1982 (PR)

I bought this album at the same time as my first Yes albums (CTTE and The Yes Album), knowing only that it had Palmer on the drums, and without that many expectations. Both those buys proved excellent, though the differences couldn't be more extreme: on the one hand, you have the layered sounds, cosmic themes and build-up of Yes, and on the other, the short, catchy tunes, clean and fluid music and amazing plain rock of Asia. I think a lot of prog-men expected a Yes II with a couple of Crimson elements to emerge from the supergroup, but I think this end result should satisfy anyone (excluding those more given to the classical or jazz elements of prog) who approaches it with an open mind.

From the first chords of Heat Of The Moment, right through to the fade, the group's musicianship and dynamic (something not, it would seem, to extend through to their next album) is obvious. Palmer's drumming is superb, the short instrumental parts are fantastic, the vocal harmonies are great, the lyrics may not (a theme to the album) be the best you've ever heard, but they suit the music, and the end result has grown on me with each listen.

Only Time Will Tell is a beast of a different nature: much darker, beginning with a keyboard riff and continuing with a couple of different moods expressed by excellent music. Wetton's vocals support this, and the drum crescendos are extremely powerful. As strong as the opener, though it takes more getting used to.

The bass-and-drum introduction of Sole Survivor signals the start of yet another great rock song, this time going to complete nonsense lyrics, but with energy and style and enough small variations to keep me interested.

One Step Closer has a decent opening, but the continuation (especially the chorus) is a little too pop-based for me, and the lyrics (appalling. Really appalling) don't alleviate that. The tune and components (lyrics/vocals excepted) aren't that bad, but the end result does nothing for me.

Time Again is perhaps the fastest of the album's songs, very energetic, and with stronger lyrics ('Fate looks certain, but then nothing's guaranteed/You want for nothing, but is nothing what you need?') than the rest of the album. Howe's guitar solo here is perfect, and the drumming is Carl Palmer at his finest, and the bass is very strong, and the keyboards fit in very nicely.

Wildest Dreams is the closest thing to prog rock on this album. It's a protest song with mind-blowing verses, but instrumental sections and choruses that don't (for me) reach the level of those on the rest of the album (not quite sure why, but occasionally it seems over-indulgent or overblown in a way that the rest of the album doesn't). Still an excellent song

Without You is as highly rated by me as any of the huge progressive epics that are so loudly trumpeted around PA. The lyrics are strong, the moody keyboard opening and vocals are haunting and echoey, and the composition can take a complete turn when you least expect it. The entire song is absolutely perfect: a great combination of emotion and technical skill.

Cutting It Fine has its moments, one of Howe's catchiest melodies, a superb opening and an emotive instrumental close (mainly piano), although the lyrics aren't anything exceptional. The energy is infectious, and Downes' tasteful additions to the guitar-bass-drums dominated song proper give it enough material to be replayable.

Here Comes The Feeling is the optimistic end to the album, uplifting and genuine verses, and the chorus is less annoying than One Step Closer, with stronger melodies and particularly strong keyboard and bass parts. A great closer, with a very abrupt end.

Asia's debut, in my opinion, is superb - an amazing rock album with a couple of irritating pop moments. Unfortunately, it seems to suffer ridiculous over-reactions (1 star?!) based on what the band could have been, and a refusal to actually engage with the music individually. Highly recommended, but it seems that the experience of this album differs from person to person.

Rating: Four Stars (Five, but I'm not awarding masterpiece ratings to PR or proto-prog albums)

Favourite Track: Without You

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
2 stars Asia had its beginning in 1981 when John Wetton and Steve Howe were brought together by John Kalodner and Geffen Records to start working together. They were eventually joined by Carl Palmer and Geoff Downes. With a line-up like that, they were hailed as a supergroup in the music press of the time, but when they finally released their eponymous debut album, the critics were quite harsh. I completely understand their response. After all, these were veterans of some of the greatest progressive rock bands of the 1970s. And this was what they had to offer? Nine short tracks of AOR numbers?

Needless to say, it's the main reason many have a hard time referring to Asia as a prog band. Even with this criticism, for some reason their music clicked with the AOR fans of groups like Boston and Journey. Because of this, Asia's debut album would sell and sell and sell. The album made it to #1 on the U.S. charts and contained two singles making the Top-20. Not only that, but six of the nine songs made it onto at least one U.S. chart, either the pop singles chart or the mainstream rock chart. Asia got a ton of radio play and even to this day, songs from this album get played on the radio often.

I have to admit a guilty pleasure of liking this album, very much. That's because the music is great, well composed, and filled with catchy hooks and melodies, just barely touching on some progressive tendencies. It would have been neat if this foursome had really attempted a bona-fide progressive rock album, but that is just a dream of bygone years.

If you want to listen to some great AOR music, I can't think of anything better than Asia's debut album. It's a landmark album for rock music and easily would be considered a five-star gem on a mainstream rock site. At Prog Archives, two stars is about the best it deserves.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars I still remember when I bought this album back in 82. A lot of my friends at the time received my action with disapproval. To them those guys were ītraitorsī of prog and they wanted nothing but money. To me, everything that really counted was the music. And Asiaīs music, pop or prog, was good. So what? I liked many different types of music, so what was wrong with them? At least they were making first class pop with many prog influences. That was my thoughts then and I still think the same thing. Compared to much of the pop music at the time, Asiaīs debut album sounded energetic, creative and very well played.

I grew up in my teens loving Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, ELP, etc. But I also liked good, simple, melodic songs that were the birth of prog music (like it or not, pop WAS the craddle of prog. Just see Yes and Genesis first albums, to mention just two examples). If prog outgrew its orignal mold, thatīs alright. But still, it was pop music at the start. And good pop music, not just commercial junk. I think thereīs still a lot of prejudice in melodic, simpler tunes.

Back to Asiaīs debut album: it was by far the most pop oriented music produced by its members until then. But it never meant it was bad or disposable stuff. In fact I loved how they blended simple pop melodies with lush prog arrangements. I still think itīs a worthy album even a quarter century after its release. All songs are good and Steve Howes trademark guitar lines made all the difference. Production was very good and the songwriting at the time was more of a group efford.

With time this CD got some `cultī status, which I think it deserves. Itīs good. not really essential for progsters, but a good album anyway. I still have it, by the way. If you like melodic music in general, give it a try. AOR? Pop? pop-prog? Hard pop? I rather think itīs just good melodies played by some of the best musicians around.

Review by The Crow
3 stars A prog superband... Wich doesn't plays prog!

Only pleasant, commercial and really well made AOR music, wich has nothing to do with any of the Asia's memebers bands. Ok, the prog influences are here, of course... Like the good Downes's keyboards in Here Comes the Feeling, sounding like some kind of neo-prog precedent. Cutting it Fine has also some symphonic elements, being the instrumental end of this song on of the most proggy parts of the album... Time Again has also some original elements, not really ususal in the AOR genre.

But of course, I can't call this music progressive... So the term prog related is pefect for Asia.

Apart from the album's style, the songs are really good... Very commercial and radio oriented, but really well made, with a cristal clear sound, and perfectly played. John Wetton's mellow voice is really good for this songs. He has not a high range, but his voice fits perfectly with the mood of the tracks, being very radio friendly. Steve Howe's elegant playing is also remarkable, specially in the stronger songs like Sole Survivor and Time Again. Geoffey Downes offers a diversified playing, giving a special taste to every song... The epic One Step Closer chorus, the symphonic elements in Cutting it Fine, the keyboards riff and solo in Here Comes the Feeling... Or just giving deepness in Sole Survivor and Heat of the Moment. Really talented keyboardist, I think.

And Carl Palmer... His strong playing is also really important for the Asia's sound. Like the double pedal used at the end of Sole Survivor. I also appreciate the drum's sound very much. Simply spectacular!

Best songs: Heat of the Moment (of course... The great hit of the album), Sole Survivor (the strongest song of the album... The ending is almost heavy!), One Step Closer (I really like the chorus...) and Here Comes the Feeling (I love the neo-prog feeling of this track).

Conclusion: very good AOR rock, with some proggy and symphonic elements... Made for this great group of musicians. Every instrument shines in this work, and the sound is also spectacular. I like also almost every song of the album... But being not really progressive, I think I can't give this album more than 3 stars, because it's not essential to any prog music collection.

My rating: ***

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The debut from Asia was released in 1982. About this time prog rock didnīt really exist anymore. At least in 1982 almost every major prog rock band from the seventies had pursued a more commercial pop/ rock career. Just to mention a few bands Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant and Kansas who were all considered as part of the seventies prog rock movement all had turned their music in a more commercial direction. So even though Asia is a kind of supergroup that consists of Geoffrey Downes ( Yes), Steve Howe ( Yes), Carl Palmer ( Atomic Rooster, Emerson Lake & Palmer) and John Wetton ( King Crimson, UK) who all four were considered as some of the most prolific progressive rock musicians you shouldnīt expect anything remotely proggy on this album. Well thatīs not all true, but there isnīt much prog rock here.

The music is more in the vein of Foreigner, Survivor and other early eighties AOR bands. There are prog rock tendencies here and there but there are no real prog rock songs here. I remember this was a big disappointment to me, when I got this album and it has been collecting dust on my shelf for many years. Recently I have started listening to the album again to make this review and I must say I have found more interesting things than I imagined even though I still donīt like the album much.

I think there are many links to a band like UK even though Asia is much more commercial and not nearly as good as UK. Now and again a riff takes me back to the great UK albums, and that part of Asiaīs sound is something I enjoy. What I donīt enjoy on most songs are the vocal melodies which are really radio friendly. On the good side on things I can mention that I have never heard John Wetton sing as well as he does on this album. The vocal melodies are a big problem in my opinion. This is simply too accessible. One thing I like about prog rock is that it takes a lot of time understanding the music. With Asia itīs the exact opposite. This music is made to be remembered the first time you listen to it. This is allright if you want your music played on the radio, but itīs not allright for a prog head like myself who wantīs to be challenged.

There are actually some good songs on the album. The best might be Without You, but also the symphonic ending to Cutting it Fine is to my pleasure. Time Again with itīs swing rythm is also pretty good and not too commercial. But itīs songs like the opener Heat of the Moment, Sole Survivor and Only Time Will Tell that makes me press the skip button time and again. This is simply too cheesy for me.

The musicianship is of course excellent. How could it not be with musicians like these ?

The production is a real eighties sounding flat production. How did they manage to drown the drums like that ? Everything is dominatied by the vocals and the keyboards.

As you can sense this is not my favorite kind of music and Iīll make an exception to my own rules by rating this album 2 stars. Normally I would rate an album like Asia 3 stars because the compositions and the musicianship is very high but as I really dislike the style I canīt give more than 2 stars for this one. This is not recommedable to anyone else but people who love Eye of the Tiger and other AOR hits like that one. Fans of the bandmembers former bands shouldnīt automatically buy this album. Most of you will be extremely disappointed.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars Here comes my feeling

Asia seems to be a much hated band among many Prog fans. However, some people seem instead to love them! I fall somewhere in between I guess. This is by no means awful, but it has some evident flaws.

I am a major fan of Steve Howe and follow his extensive discography very closesly. The other three members are also people I respect and like with connections to some really great bands like Yes, ELP, King Crimson, UK, Uriah Heep and others. You all know the story behind it!

Asia's self-titled debut consists of nine songs. Out of these, only Heat Of The Moment is such that I don't like it. (However, John Wetton did an acoustic version of this song featured on the excellent Steve Hackett live DVD Tokyo Tapes that I think is much better than this original version). As usual though, it is almost always a good band's worst songs that will be most appreciated and remembered by the mainstream audience. Some other horrible examples are Yes' Owner Of A Lonely Heart, Queen's Radio Ga Ga and Genesis' Invisible Touch (whenever I introduce myself as a Yes fan, or a Queen fan or a Genesis fan, I'm always reminded of this fact 'Oh, I remember them, they did that song Owner Of A Lonely Heart, right? Great song!' And I will always have to explain, 'Well, actually I hate that song, but I love the band, particularly their 70's output'. My audience is often puzzled).

The rest of this album is musically actually very good in my opinion. Some of the lyrics, on the other hand, are quite awful! The lyrical aspect would get even worse on subsequent albums.

My only real problem with this album (apart from the commercial Heat Of The Moment and some of the cringe worthy lyrics) is that its nine songs are too similar to each other having the result that there is very little variation on the album. This would be bettered with their next album, Alpha, which is possibly my favourite Asia studio album.

Asia is not at all as bad as some people say, but also not really excellent.

As an aside I can mention that this entire album was recently performed live by a reunited Asia featuring all four original members. In this live performance this material really came to life and was in my opinion bettered in comparison with this studio album that now sounds slightly sterile. One such performance was later filmed and released on DVD as Fantasia - Live In Tokyo. A great live DVD!

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars ASIA's first line-up was really a prog-rock fan's dream. After all, it combined members of arguably three of the five biggest bands: Palmer from ELP, Howe from YES and Wetton who was part of KING CRIMSON. All that was missing for it to be the ultimate perfect super-group was a member of GENESIS and another of PINK FLOYD. Downes, who filled the fourth spot, had also played with YES before, and his credentials were on the rise. Therefore, what could really stop this album from being anything else but marvelous?

Obviously, a lot of things, but most likely, the actual decision by the band members to evade the "progressive" factor of each of their major bands. We were in a time when "prog" was not as "cool" anymore, and never is that more evident than in ASIA's "Asia", a debut album that should've been a masterpiece of epic proportions, and ended up being just a good collection of rock tunes.

All the songs are quite OK in "Asia", but none really stands out. The best ones are probably "Time will Tell", the catchiest one, and "Here Comes the Feeling", probably the most progressive one if only for a few minor instrumental details. Other than these two, the tracks are all very similar, played in similar tempos, with similar structures, and with almost zero experimentation or any hint of "progressiveness".

The musicianship is good, but for the names, quite below average. Howe doesn't shine like he did in practically every YES album he ever played on, with mediocre solos and just a few interesting melodies. Palmer is just another drummer here in ASIA, and only once do we hear him trying to steal the spotlight with a chain of drum fills that fail to impress anyway. Wetton does a great job singing, and his bass, while simple, is efficient and at times even elegant. Downes adds some very nice touches on the keyboards, even though I'm quite sure most people that dislike this album will mention his 80's- sounding synths as part of the problem.

In hindsight, we can say that ASIA's attitude towards their music was pretty understandable and that their music, while not brilliant, is enjoyable and harmless. But I can imagine how some prog-rock fans felt when a band made of Palmer, Howe, Wetton and Downes released a disc full of radio-ready pop- rock tunes. The progressive factor is minimum in "Asia", but that shouldn't make me give the album less than it deserves. 2.5 stars for the entertainment factor which I will round up to 3, as I think the record has been criticized more harshly than it deserves.

Anyway, it's a mcuh better album than my first ASIA experience, the more-recent but quite terrible "Aura."

Review by CCVP
2 stars One of the reasons why the 80's were hard for the traditional progressive rock fan

Asia is highly regarded as having one of the best line-ups progressive rock could ever have, and i gotta agree with that common sense. However, against all the odds, such talented and skilled musicians that, during the decade before the formation of Asia, had redefined rock as a genre and literally created such different and colorful pieces of music that will continue being masterpieces for generations to come, gave birth to this abomination.

Here, we find many things that conspire negatively to the album. The first (and most important) thing is that this is not progressive rock. Don't get me wrong, i am not a prog extremist and i am fairly open minded when it comes to music, but come on, this album and this band contains only AOR and a kind of AOR that influenced progressive rock negatively, since bands like Yes and ELPowell were influenced by Asia's debut at the time. The second problem is that this album sounds like its from the 80's, meaning that, like most things from the 80's, the music sounds extremely dated and out of fashion. The third problem is that the music and specially the lyrics are kind of shallow. The last problem that i find important to point out is that this band seems to be or tries to be american, despite all of its members being from England.

The songs are usually very commercially driven towards the 80's audience, making them, as said before, sound dated and out of fashion. However, there are some songs that are actually good, like Sole Survivor and Wildest Dreams, but they are standing alone in a sea of cheese. However, by good i mean only music-wise, not considering the lyrics because they suck.

Grade and Final Thoughts

This album, besides all the cheese, is somewhat good. However, knowing what Steve Howe, Carl Palmer and John Wetton did before this album i just simply can't give it the 3 stars grade. Besides, this album does not appeal in almost any way to the rpog rock fan. So, because of that, 2 stars.

Review by J-Man
4 stars This is tough to rate for a prog site. All of the music is terrific, but really is pop/rock not prog rock music. Sure the musicians are all from prog bands (ELP, YES, KING CRIMSON, etc.), but this was really them going out of their comfort zone an making great pop music. This is easily the best Asia album, and consists many great songs like ONLY TIME WILL TELL and TIME AGAIN. I feel songs like HEAT OF THE MOMENT are overrated, but isn't bad or anything.

Basically this is it: great musicianship and songwriting. 5/5 for pop rock music, but is 4/5 for prog music, and since this is on a prog site, that's what it gets.

Review by NotAProghead
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Errors & Omissions Team
4 stars Good prog for beginners

Usually I don't review albums rated many times. But I wonder how many 1-2 stars reviews and ratings this album has. It seems those who tell it's crap are so smart that they listen to KING CRIMSON, avant and RIO since their childhood years, and Robert Wyatt and MAGMA sang them lullubies. But in reality people start from simplier forms of music, be it pop, big beat, hard rock or heavy metal. And only when their tastes improve they come to more complex forms of art. I think ASIA debut album is a good bridge between straight rock and real prog. At least for me, quite a long time ago, ''Asia'' album was such a bridge. Still love these songs. No need to discuss them here - love or hate them - most of us know them well.

4 stars for this memorable, well crafted record, made by great rock musicians.

Review by Modrigue
4 stars Asia's first and best!

Although featuring such a prestigious lineup coming from legend prog rock pionneer bands (YES, ELP and KING CRIMSON) and a superb fantasy cover art and logo by Roger Dean, do not expect long and complex tracks, nor 70's rock feel and experimentation. Either does it sound like YES, ELP or even less KING CRIMSON. So ? What has the blue dragon to offer ?

"Asia" consists in 9 short but very efficient synth-rock / AOR / pop-prog songs, surprisingly catchy with great melodies! You can sing along and they keep going in your head. There are even genuine hits in it ("Heat of the Moment", "Sole Survivor", "Only Time Will Tell"...) ! But wait, you said it was pop-prog, what does it mean? Where is the progressive part ? As we said, this is not truly progressive, but the album has some prog elements and feel in it. Besides the melody, guitar and keyboards sometimes distill enjoyable fantasy atmospheres and pre-neo-progressive touches. The record is not exempt from some weak cheesy moments and dripping passages, but fortunately listens very well and transports you to another imaginary land.

In conclusion, ASIA is 70's art rock injected to 80's FM tunes, mini-fantasy prog marrying with pop-rock melodies. This debut opus should please STYX and TOTO fans and other people who wants to try something else in their prog journey, if they're not afraid of eighties' AOR / radio songs. Far from being an hardcore symphonic or neo-progressive aficionado, I really enjoyed it!

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Take prog legends Geoffrey Downes, Steve Howe, Carl Palmer and John Wetton and what have you got? No prog! That's right - not a single, solitary sceric of prog. But instead a radio friendly sound that is as unfriendly to prog ears as you can get. Having said that I do like the music in a commercial sense.

I have no idea why the band members branched out in to this direction but it was not a welcome change in any sense. Some good came of it with Heat of the Moment and Soul Survivor that I have always liked, but the album material is fairly forgettable overall. And this is a tragedy with the likes of ELP, King Crimson and Yes seeping from the edges of Asia. They still play live and released a plethora of albums. Many agree this is their best and if that's the case, count me out. I like my prog served chilled with off kilter rhythms, bizarre lyrics and time signature changes and musical virtuosity of varying lengths.

Don't be fooled by the proggy album cover, this is anti-prog and deserves its status as most disappointing super group effort ever. Not a complete waste but not a pleasant surprise either no matter what your tastes in music. It was the beginning and the end of Asia for me.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars It sounds like rock. Well, it perhaps will be rock. I understand, that everyone was expecting something big from these names well known in prog world. And I also understand that a lot of people were disappointed.

But result is not so bad, when considering it's 80s time and that these guys were in great bands of 70s, so I don't wanna have these prejudices. Most of rock bands were doing worse music in 80s than in 70s, except new ones (like Marillion, Pendragon).

This music has a lot to offer. When you are able to "descend" from prog heights to these prog-normal rock borders. It's easy if you try sings John Lennon and I agree. Sound of 80s isn't for everyone, there is big difference in sound of 70-80, when I first heard "SftJT by Mar, I was kinda surprised It sounded completely different than prog rock off 70s I was used to listen. But after few listening of this music, I started to be accumstomed. I see these traits in Asia's music too. It's not bad of course, It's listenable. But there is no epic track, all these songs sound similar.

From mere rock point of view, it's great. From prog rock, it's average.

Review by Moogtron III
4 stars Excellent debut album, and if I was writing a review for an all music site, I would give it five stars. Since I'm writing for a progressive rock site, I have to take off one star, because the prog factor is not real high on the album. A masterpiece of rock it is: the compositions are top notch, and so is the musical atmosphere, and so are the keyboards on the album. Also it is an innovating album in it's own right. Still, a masterpiece of prog it is not.

John Wetton was a member of the band UK in the late seventies, and on the last UK album you could still hear in some songs a real progressive musical point of view. The next band he was about to join, Asia, also had Carl Palmer and Steve Howe in it, so it was looked upon as the progressive hope for the 1980's.

It was not going to happen. Asia had a less progressive attitude than UK. As John Wetton once said in an interview with a Dutch progressive rock magazine: there were people who didn't necessarily want to listen to very long epics, but they were on the other hand also not looking for dance music, but somewhere in between.

That was what Asia was: an in between band: between prog and the simple rock hits of the day. There weren't epics on the album, but also not 3 minute hit singles. There were hit singles on the album alright, but they were a bit more challenging than the average radio hit single.

Made in the age of LP's, side one had the more simple tracks, and side two had a bit more adventurous tracks. It is only a small distinction, but you can hear it back nevertheless.

Why do I give the album four stars while it is obviously not a real prog album? Because the compositions, as I said, are excellent, and so is the production. There is a lot of attention to detail, and the music has a definite flow.

The first Asia album is especially a triumph for John Wetton and Geoff Downes. John Wetton, because he writes some great melodies (none of them mediocre, with the possible exception of "Cutting It Fine"), and some original lyrics, and Geoff Downes because he's the main responsible for the great musical atmosphere, with a touch of Asia (the continent) in his keyboard sounds.

One other reason why the album is a milestone: even though the musical direction of Asia is being disliked by many prog fans, I do believe they were pioneering in a new sort of sound: a mixture of prog and pop, sort of a "third way", and I think they deserve some credit for it. Many bands also took that middle way. Maybe you can view upon that as something that has been a plague for prog, but you could also look upon it as a hybrid experiment that opened a lot of doors for new bands.

Asia had a big influence on neo prog, which also simplified the progressive sound of the 1970's, amongst other things by making much less use of acoustic instruments.

The considerable talents of Carl Palmer and Steve Howe don't come out real well on the album. That's too bad. Roger Dean's talents on the other hand shone brightly. The sleeve for the album, as well the front as the back, is one of his best pieces of work.

Too bad that the creativity only lasted for one album. Asia would never reach the heights of their debut, on the contrary. Avoid all further releases. Even the second album is a bad carbon copy of the first album. But the debut is a classic album, pioneering as well as influential, and therefore an excellent addition to any prog collection.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars Since this is probably another must-do review, I had my first listen to Asia in 25 years.

Oh dear, it must be ages since I have laughed so much when listening to a record. This is so bad that it becomes irresistible. For starters, each song challenges all the others at bearing the cheesiest possible verses in rock history. But still, when they fire off into the chorus it gets even worse then it already was. I can't help it, it's too much, I simply double up at every refrain here. It's so blatantly commercial and tasteless that it's jaw-dropping.

I remember I used to like a few tunes from this album though. Time Again was one of them and it still kind of works. Also Wildest Dreams and Cutting it Fine aren't entirely without merit. Overstated as this whole affair may be, you can't blame them for not sounding enthusiastic. Of course, it is a rather disturbing thought how such musicians could be excited about this stuff ... Makes you wonder if these guys had any self-scrutiny at all.

So, I had a good laugh and I've more or less enjoyed 3 tracks. That would normally be 2 stars. But really, that would put my other 2-stars to shame.

In a twisted sort of way I would dare to call this essential. Not because it is any good but because it should be a mandatory listen for each prog-head to remind us how things got so terribly wrong.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Although most progressive rock fans may dismiss Asia's debut album as a complete and utter sellout...I still like it!

We, as a prog community, should be proud that this "Supergroup" did so well since most of these tracks are pretty catchy. It basically proves that our favorite artists can create excellent pop tunes if they only felt like it but instead choose to spend most of their time making the music that they are truly passionate about. Of course we don't have any progressive classics here, instead it's the typical AOR-sound of the 80's that dominates this self-titled release.

Considering the background of each of the band's group member this release is even more impressive since, together, they managed to outdo most of the popular bands that dominated AOR-genre at the time! It's true that Asia's popularity had a definite downside for other progressive artists by spawning a few other supergroup bands like GTR, but that's just the way the music industry works.

If anything, Asia's debut album is great fun of a release, but definitely far from essential for progressive rock enthusiasts.

**** star songs: Heat Of The Moment (3:54) Only Time Will Tell (4:48) Sole Survivor (4:51) Time Again (4:48) Wildest Dreams (5:11) Cutting It Fine (5:40) Here Comes The Feeling (5:40)

*** star songs: One Step Closer (4:18) Without You (5:07)

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars It's interesting that Asia is a supergroup of the highest progressive rock caliber playing unprogressive rock. Most of these songs are at least good pop rock tunes with some small measure of progressiveness and bombast (likely unavoidable given the lineup).

"Heat of the Moment" Probably the first John Wetton vocal I'd ever heard, I hadn't associated him with his 1970s work with bands like King Crimson. The heavy electric guitar riff certainly doesn't sound like the Steve Howe of yesteryear, which is strange because his style is so distinct and eclectic. Geoff Downes counters those crunchy rock riffs with light plucky keyboard. Carl Palmer actually sticks out as himself the most on this album in terms of not blending stylistically. His big sound is fitting most of the song, but then he strangely resorts to riding the snare through the guitar solo.

"Only Time Will Tell" A trumpeting synthesizer and screaming lead guitar give way to soft keyboard and vocals. It is another well-crafted song with a solidly memorable melody, quite similar to The Alan Parsons Project.

"Sole Survivor" To my ears, this third track sounds like a transitional song between Tormato and Drama. It has Howe's heavier guitar sound paired with cheesy keyboard tones, thick drumming, and moves like a turn-of-the-decade Yes composition.

"One Step Closer" Another semi-progressive rock song, I am again reminded of Tormato and Drama. Vocally, however, one may expect bright pop singing with the huskiness of Wetton's voice.

"Time Again" Speaking of Drama, this piece reminds me of "Machine Messiah" in so many ways- from the dark guitar and synthesizers, the chugging bass, and the overall mood.

"Wildest Dreams" This is an incoherent composition, swaying between pounding rhythms, semi-reggae, and an unfortunate, general cheesiness.

"Without You" "Without You" is similar to an edgier Eloy (and Wetton even sounds like the lead singer for that band here).

"Cutting It Fine" While retaining the prog-laced heavy pop rock that fuels this album, Asia dives into further cheesiness. Downes's gentle piano bit may seem out of place, but it's a welcome interruption regardless.

"Here Comes the Feeling" A straightforward rocker concludes the album. The interplay of the bass, keyboard, and guitar is excellent, and Asia provides a genuinely great progressive pop tune.

Review by lazland
5 stars Oh dear. This is one of those albums which attracts so much hatred in some circles on the site that it's difficult to imagine that it can be anything other than the work of the devil himself. Satan has come to purge planet earth of the very existence of prog!

The pedigree of the participants in this, the original, and still the best, project was immaculate. Howe from Yes, Wetton from Crimson & UK, Palmer from ELP, and Downes from...erm, Buggles. Alright then, almost immaculate. However, those of us at the time of release expecting a glut of Starless meets Gates Of Delerium meets Tarkus were to be swiftly disavowed in the strongest possible terms.

For what the band produced was nothing less than a 24 carot gold pop rock album, albeit one that contained music that was true to their prog traditions in terms of the intricate musicianship and grandiose designs. In fact, the greatest irony at the time was Steve Howe berating Yes for producing, erm, pop music in the form of 90125.

It is, by the way, a massively successful pop rock album, one of the finest ever recorded, and thoroughly deserved the truckloads of sales it delivered to that nice Mr Geffen. In fact, there is barely a weak moment throughout. There can't be a human on the planet who hasn't, at one stage, sung along to Heat Of The Moment, which is still, of course, a staple of the live set. It's a fantastic single, and rather sets the tone for much of what lay ahead. Sole Survivor is, if anything, even more accomplished, containing a cracking pace, lyrics, and yet, amongst the toe tapping finery, there is prog, and pure prog at that. Listen to the incredibly complex signatures utilised by Howe, and that wonderful, brief, synth solo by Downes, whilst all the time, Palmer sets the drum kit alive.

Nor is that all. Wildest Dreams is progressive rock at its very best, a monstrous piece of music, which is towering in its scope and reach. It is, without doubt, the highlight of the album, and almost of their career. You really wish that Howe had not fallen out with Wetton after the follow up, because his partnership with Downes instrumentally on this evidence had the potential to be as good as anything he produced with Yes, it's that good.

One Step Closer has a fantastic jazzy feel to it, and easily some of Howe's best work ever.

Time Again is richly dark, and does, more than anything else on the album, remind the listener very much of an acid fueled ELP. Wetton & Palmer keep a massive quick pace, with the latter especially making a huge din, Howe sounds as if he has the time of his life rocking, and Downes proved that he could do both prog and rock, creating a huge overall layer and feel to the track.

And, for more evidence of the fact that this is a prog related, or crossover prog, album, listen to the beautiful, symphonic, and majestic keyboard extended solo at the back of Cutting It Fine, itself a clever comedown and mood change from an almost hysterical opening section. Without You, although (whisper it quietly) a love song, contains some incredibly complex and well played instrumentation. In fact, what they were all saying was that a piece of music did not necessarily have to be twenty five minutes long in order to shine. You could also pack in an awful lot of great music in five minutes.

I have to say I am staggered that this album only has a rating of 3.14 on the site, although perhaps I shouldn't in view of the fact that 1980's are considered by many as the "lost decade" for prog. Well, nonsense. The decade produced some outstanding music, and it should not be forgotten that there were many buyers of this LP who went on to explore the music of the founding members of the band in the 1970's.

As a statement of intent, for incredible commercial progressive music, this album is a masterpiece, and deserves no less than five stars, without a hint of an apology from me.

Review by baz91
1 stars Never trust a book... err, album by its cover

Listening to this album is like seeing a beautiful shiny apple, and then biting in only to discover a rotten interior. On the outside, this looks like a thing of a beauty, Roger Dean cover, and a line-up to make you drool. Who wouldn't want to hear Steve Howe, Carl Palmer, John Wetton and Geoff Downes in a line-up? Well after hearing this record, me!

You see, this album is a pile of commercialised rubbish. There's nothing but pop/AOR tracks to greet the listener, with barely a hint of prog to reward the listener. It just seems as if all who previously cared about progressive music had given up trying and went for the 'easier option'. Somehow, the fact that established bands like Genesis and Yes were doing this doesn't seem quite as bad as this. Getting four of prog's biggest names together to make something that is trying not to be prog is just unforgiveable. Yet this is what happened.

With the biggest blow being the lack of prog, there are many more factors that make listening to this album quite annoying. 1) The album is not produced very well, having the sound quality of a live album. 2) This album is too long: 45 minutes is far too long to spend listening to boring pop tunes. 3) The songs themselves are also too long: most of the songs are about 5 minutes, leading to a lot of padding out, making the songs drag even longer. 3) None of the musicians seem that good. I've heard these guys at their best, and they are brilliant, but they just seem to be shadows of their former selves on this record. Palmer's drumming on Heat of the Moment is a case in point! 4) At times, there will be something slightly interesting on the record, but this is usually stopped after 15 seconds. This gives you false hope, and makes you wonder why they didn't carry on being interesting!

There's perhaps just one reason to buy this record, and that's to hear the opening track Heat of the Moment, the band's biggest hit. It's a very catchy song, and the only Asia track worth listening to in my opinion. Also, it's much shorter than the rest of the songs on this album, being the only one to come in under 4 minutes.

I seriously don't understand how this album could come from some of prog's biggest masterminds. It's as if they were trying to deny their past, as if it were all a mistake. I do not recommend this album, as there is next to nothing enjoyable about hearing it.

Review by stefro
2 stars Anthemic adult-orientated-rock masquerading as progressive rock - pop-prog if you will - this hugely-successful 1982 release kick-started the now three-decade-long career of the supergroup Asia, a commercially-orientated outfit that featured a virtual dream-team of prog-rock superstars making up the ranks. Featuring John Wetton(King Crimson, Mogul Thrash, Family, UK), Geoff Downes(Yes, Buggles), Steve Howe(Tomorrow, Yes) and Carl Palmer(ELP, Atomic Rooster), a nifty Roger Dean sleeve and aimed squarely at the North American market, 'Asia' is, regrettably, nothing more than a hollow exercise in shameless corporate excess. Gone are the art-rock ambitions and innovative instrumental techniques of the various members former employers, in come emotive pop hooks, big, stadium-sized guitars and precious little to engage the minds of progressive rock fans - just what you need to generate a barrel of cash. And surely that's the point here. Asia aren't trying to win any prizes for artistic ambition or innovation, there trying - and succeeding - to make a hit record. And 'Asia' was exactly that, selling in excess of seven million copies throughout the United States alone, which is not something to be sniffed at. Those who enjoy the likes of Steve Perry-era Journey, Foreigner's earlier releases and the big choruses of Boston and Styx should feel right at home then. However, those who enjoy the finer aspects of progressive music are warned to stay well clear. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
Review by obiter
2 stars Noooo!!

The four songs of this album are quintessential middle of the road bland pop. If you like Asia I'm sure you'll like this. As a part of a prog collection - I simply have no idea whatsoever why this would be in it. Might as well have The Jam (except that is streaks better).

If this album was "of the time" and I'm just not getting it then I'm glad I luckily had my head in a bucket at the material time.

"Only time will tell": it does and this is an album that should be consigned to the closet of big hair, big shoulder pads, short sleeves, "insincerity" and clichéd lyrics.

"Sole Survivor" the lucky one that got away!

"One step closer": no I would advise several miles away. preferably in a bunker in a neighbouring planet.

"Time Again" ; why is this on the album: the intro is great. all goes a bit overblown after, but hey in the context of this album it's a pinnacle of success. Momentary touches of a Gentle Giant vibe.

The second side is more than a nyumb perhaps even a tad better . "Cutting it Fine" for me is the stand out amidst the AOR blandness. Clichéd lyrics and cringing rhymes:

"Your sole advisor always was yourself/you never listened to no-one else"

What more can you say?

Review by Isa
1 stars It's interesting hearing this album after all of these years of adventures in abstract prog music and training in classical musicianship in college. Interesting in the sense that this album now sounds comical, while I remember it sounding cool back in high school (which is why I bothered to review it). The first track of course is the big radio hit from the 80s, and you pretty much couldn't get any more dated sounding than this (from prog musicians anyway). It's strange hearing Wetton's vocals now after listening to Red all of these years (to be fair, his singing is actually better in this dreadful album, sadly enough).Most early 80s rock cliches can be found in this album. There are moments from each musician where I hear some strong hints at prog style, for example the interesting sections in Soul Survivor. However, these shades of progressiveness almost make it worse, tantalizing the listener into being so aware of the potential for creativity that was never really tapped into. Every moment of the album is so contrived; the commercialism is, quite frankly, disgusting and boring, and what hints of skilled playing that one might find are either out of place, lame, or just preposterous sounding. It makes one imagine that Journey, Boston, and even Foreigner were doing at least something right at the time, which is disgraceful. It's like a bunch of extremely skilled painters using their skills to create vulgar, even lack-luster looking Anime drawings; as a person with a profession in the arts, I myself I find it almost offensive. I would even rather listen to Cyndi Lauper, since you can at least sing a catchy melody with that kind of pop music. Here, it's just commercialized noodling around.

Every moment of this album is dreadful in one way or another. Don't waste any money or time on it.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars The debut album by the band that every serious progger loves to hate, yeah, i'm talking 'bout ASIA which finds John Wetton (King Crimson, Family, Roxy Music, Uriah Heep, UK, Wishbone Ash), Steve Howe (Yes), Geoff Downes (Yes, The Buggles) and Carl Palmer (ELP, Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, Atomic Rooster) synergizing their lengthy prog resumes into a prog power pop album that not only sent a shock wave throughout the prog world but further intensified it by becoming a huuuuge hit on the pop charts (hitting #1 on Billboard and even generating a #4 single with "Heat Of The Moment"). This was new territory. Polished prog refined to pop and enjoying heavy rotation on MTV alongside the likes of the Gogos, Men At Work, Toto, Survivor and Olivia Newton-John. Well, how could they?!!!!!

This album actually has its roots in the "Drama" album by Yes where the band was looking to update their sound into an 80s radio friendly style without seriously sacrificing the prog aspects that their loyal 70s followers craved. With Yes veterans working with new wavers such as Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes they concocted a new mix of the old and new in a style that alienated some old fans who didn't want to move into new territory and picked up newer younger fans who were a little more keen on experiments.

While "Drama" faired well in the UK, elsewhere it was a bit of a miss. Yes decided to take a break from each other and split into two camps. One branch which included Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Chris Squire went on to create a band called Cinema which for some reason changed the name back to Yes for their 1983 album 90125 and the other branch formed ASIA. Both albums took the approach of "Drama" and seriously de-progged it. Actually i should say they condensed the prog into pop-like song structures making this one of the most surreal albums of the entire 80s. These two albums actually sound related as the guitar riffs of "Heat Of The Moment" and "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" sound very similar. This would also be the album where ASIA took over Roger Dean's artwork for their albums and Yes would abandon them for the rather uninspiring simplicity that would continue for a while.

Personally i find this album quite entertaining. You hear all the characteristics of full-blown symphonic prog on board with the lush keyboard sweeps, the intricate guitar solos, frenzied time signatures, bombastic deliveries and jazz-tinged drum rolls but they occur in the context of a song structured in the popular music of the day. The music is complex in its minutia but structured melodically to be very catchy and ear-worm generating. The musicianship sounds over-the-top for such simple songs but somehow this album works for me.

Although not one i indulge in on a regular basis i find the efforts to be seductive and introducing a new marriage of styles that hadn't been so successfully fulfilled. I really don't understand the contempt for this one. It has beautiful melodies, strong musical deliveries and oh yeah! Maybe it's the banal lyrics. I can understand that one. Maybe if they were singing about psilocybin enemas, nonsensical verbose meanderings or included unintelligible utterings this would have been better received. Who knows, but despite the "Oooo baby" lyrics that tend to dominate i find it gives this a light fluffy feel for a prog pop album. Overall this album is hardly the best ever to grace either the prog or pop world but it is good piece of exactly what it is trying to be. 3.5 but rounded up because it doesn't get enough love in these here parts :)

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Progheads tend to give this album, and band, a hard time and that's completely understandable. Putting myself in the shoes of an original prog fan whose upbringing was blessed by the classic incarnations of the genre's giants like King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd et al and then waking up one day to find your favourite musicians collaborating together, promoted under the art of Roger Dean and hearing little more than AOR and 80's synthpop, it's agonizing! If I had lived out that experience myself I know I would have developed some major trust issues. However, being a younger (i.e. younger than 40) prog fan and unswayed by the powerful forces of 70's nostalgia, I feel that I can shine a brighter light on an album that's, frankly, pretty darn good.

ASIA's main selling point is its lineup; it is a supergroup after all. Steve Howe is on it, though it's no "Close To The Edge". Carl Palmer is on it, though it's no "Tarkus". John Wetton is on it, though it is most certainly no "Larks' Tongues In Aspic". What these three, plus Geoff Downes, who featured on Yes' "Drama", do create, however, is a fresher, more sophisticated alternative to the generally uninspired genre of 80's AOR. Several of the tracks on side 1, such as "Heat of the Moment" and "One Step Closer", are fairly typical 80's rock fare and make for friendly radio tracks. There aren't too remarkable, though "Sole Survivor" and "Time Again" are great songs that make use of the band's talents in a format that is very accessible to new listeners. "Time Again" in particular is one of the album's strongest tracks and features quality, though short, jazz-based soloing from Steve Howe. The album's second side, while not veering too far from standard rock song structures, does allow for slightly more instrumental exploration, especially on the ballad "Without You" and "Cutting It Fine". "Wildest Dreams" is one of the album's highlights, featuring some great drum soloing by Carl Palmer and political-yet-emotive lyrics that are spine-chilling at times.

"Asia", while not pure progressive rock, makes for good crossover material and serves as a good introduction to certain elements of the genre for those who find it difficult to access. This makes the album a good recommendation for people who aren't quite into 70's symphonic prog but would like to get there eventually. "Asia" isn't just for prog beginners, though; there are aspects of it that a seasoned prog veteran can appreciate.

Progressive rock can be described as many things. Emotional? Certainly! Ambitious? No doubt. Breathtaking? Of course! Exploratory? Perhaps. But one category that you probably won't find "Lizard" or "Tales From Topographic Oceans" chalked under is fun. Sure, serious, intelligent music is great to listen to in many situations but it's very difficult to enjoy all its facets when you're out for a night on the town with your buds or living it up at a house party. "Asia", however, is music that you can crank up loud when you're cruising the main drag on a summer evening while not degrading into lifeless, brain-dead pop. Is it a masterpiece in the pantheon of prog triumphs? Probably not. But "Asia" is still a quality rock record that's easy to digest, so set aside your prejudices and give it a try.

Review by patrickq
3 stars As a concept, Asia has been widely derided, at least since the group started to fall apart sometime after their second album. Greg Lake, himself briefly a member in 1983, characterized the concept as "corporate." And there certainly is something corporate about the group itself and their debut album. But I'm not sure exactly what it is.

Maybe it's the vocal sound. It's a chant that's equal parts Yes and Kiss. It's monolithic, not unlike a board of directors speaking with one emphatic voice that is not to be questioned. Kind of corporate.

Or maybe it was the band's instant success. The sales expectations for Asia might have been similar to those of early 1980s albums by U.K., Rainbow, etc.; in other words, decent, but not top-ten in the US. John Wetton's voice had never been on a hit single. None of these guys had any kind of star appeal. Why did Asia hit the jackpot? (OK, to be fair, Journey's Escape, released a year prior to Asia's debut LP, was a smash, hitting #1 for one week in the US and winding up as the #5 album of 1981. Asia was #1 for nine weeks and was the #1 album of the year. On the other hand, Escape had three top ten singles, compared to one for Asia. Anyway, Escape was the second album produced by Mike Stone, and Asia was the third. So some Geffen Records execs might have expected at least a Top Forty album.)

Then there's the fact that Asia was a supergroup assembled by a record company's A&R people. Definitely sounds corporate. Prior supergroups - - like Cream, Blind Faith, and Crosby, Stills and Nash - - are looked at differently because they're believed to have emerged organically. Sounds like a fair belief. Of course, it's possible that the members of Asia might've found each other without A&R people.

But it took more than A&R mechanisms to make Asia a hit. The fact is, the album is full of catchy art-rock (or art-pop if you'd like). The hits - - "Heat of the Moment" and "Only Time Will Tell" - - still sound fresh (to me, anyway), with "Sole Survivor" and "Here Comes the Feeling" nearly as strong. I'll also mention the almost jazzy "Time Again," the most "prog" sounding track here.

But the real gem is one I've never heard on the radio, and one which I haven't seen on a greatest-hits album: "One Step Closer." It's a charming duet sung in harmony by lead vocalist and bassist John Wetton and guitarist Steve Howe. Keyboardist Geoff Downes also adds both a nice lead vamp and a complimentary rhythm part to the verses. "One Step Closer" is a bit oddly placed, coming after "Sole Survivor," which might be the heaviest song on the album. But it seems like Asia is sequenced from most to least commercial. The four longest songs make up Side Two of the vinyl LP, and the first three of these ("Wildest Dreams," "Without You," and "Cutting It Fine") are definitely the album cuts. "Here Comes the Feeling" closes things out with a return to a slightly poppier sound during its chorus.

For whatever reasons, CD issues of Asia haven't included "Ride Easy," a harmless Wetton-Howe song that was originally released as the b-side of many issues of "Heat of the Moment" in 1982. Nonetheless, the song has been released by Geffen on several Asia collections.

Overall, the performances on Asia are very good, with some especially strong playing by Howe throughout. The rhythm section of Wetton and drummer Carl Palmer is solid, though neither is virtuosic. With Howe playing a lot of lead parts and Wetton rarely carrying the melody, Downes is often the key instrumentalist, a role for which he's well suited. My only complaint is that Wetton needs to strain to hit some of the lead-vocal notes.

Thanks to Stone, the production is excellent; Asia has a better sound than nearly any record I've heard from 1982.

Despite the quality of this album and of Alpha (1983), the group's sophomore effort, Asia will probably always be viewed with suspicion by many prog-rock fans. After all, this is corporate, commercial rock. But it's also a good collection of art-rock songs.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars When I first read about Asia, I was quite excited, as were many prog geeks at the time, that John Wetton, Steve Howe and Carl Palmer (Geoff Downes never impressed me as much of a progressive legend) were going to create a new band. I also knew way before the album was released that it was going to be a radio-friendly prog band, so I wasn't as disappointed as some when I first heard it. I was, however, in Italy during this time, and, even though I kept up on the music news everywhere, I was trying to immerse myself in the Italian music and culture as much as possible, so I never heard the debut Asia album until I returned to the states.

It was pretty much what I expected being warned that it was a radio-friendly band in advance. I was glad to see that it was quite popular and that some of these prog-gods were able to get some recognition, even with prog mostly being pushed out of the music scene at the time. So, that made me revere this album more than it deserved to be as far as being progressive, however, I do recognize still the excellence it had as far as a pop album. The problem I had with it, of course, was both because of it's commercial appeal and a lot of the songs were structured too similarly for my liking. However, there were songs that stood out from the sameness that was apparent.

I still listen to this album and enjoy it from time to time and the interesting thing is, my favorite tracks from this album are still the same ones that they were when I first heard the album. My favorites here are the ones that are a bit different from the norm, namely "One Step Closer", "Wildest Dreams", and "Cutting it Fine" with nods to "Soul Survivor" and "Without You". The remainder of the album however, tends to wash out the highlights of the album with it's sameness and poppiness. However, it's still good enough to make me want to still retain it on vinyl, so this album is one of those strange oddities in my collection, sort of that love it/hate it relationship.

For me, it has it's importance in history, but it's intentional AOR feel keeps it from being a big favorite. It's more of an album I would listen to for the best tracks and the rest of it I just tolerate. But, even the best tracks on the album won't go down in my archives as all-time favorites. It's good, just not quite excellent, especially in a progressive attitude, but as far as its place in popularity, it can't be denied that it is one of the better commercial albums of the early 80s.

Review by Warthur
4 stars What an oddity this was. Asia's debut album is called "Asia" but has nothing to do with that continent, and finds four prog guys showing a near-total disinterest in sounding like the prog of the 1970s, offering up instead a slick pop-rock album with just enough touches of art rock and progressive pop to feel prog-adjacent.

Let's do an audit of who's here: Carl Palmer's onboard, but this neither has the ferocity of his old stomping ground in Atomic Rooster or the classical complexity of his ELP heyday. Carl, in fact, is only credited as a co-writer on one song, Time Again, which is credited to all four members, and in general there's not much that's ELP-ish here in terms of actual compositional approach and style, though at some moments (like the outro to Cutting It Fine) the band do a fine job of attaining the same mood of gravitas that ELP were able to hit in their most serious moments even if the method by which they get there is a little different. (Fundamentally, Geoff Downes is not Keith Emerson and doesn't pretend to be.)

In general however, the only sustained ELP-ish note I detect here is John Wetton's singing, since his style has a similar sort of stentorian tone to the one Greg Lake would use in ELP's more serious moments. Indeed, when John left the band for the first time in 1983 - returning for the Astra album later on - Greg filled in for him on a few live dates, and though I haven't heard any recordings of him with Asia I imagine he'd have been a fairly natural fit.

Indeed, if Greg was the least engaged of the band when it came to the songwriting here, John Wetton was the most - he's got a writing credit on every single track - and whilst there isn't really anything all that King Crimson-ish about the material here, I think you can sort of see Asia as the logical conclusion of the musical trajectory that Wetton followed from the end of Red-era King Crimson via UK. One could imagine the Danger Money-era UK having a stab at Wildest Dreams or Cutting It Fine, for instance, because whilst that project's debut album was an unabashed prog-fusion workout, Danger Money was a bit more interested in throwing in a few pop hooks here and there. If you set the proggiest moments here next to the poppiest moments of UK, the distance isn't all that great.

Rounding out the quartet are two refugees from some Yes drama - Steve Howe and Geoff Downes, to be specific. Howe's co-writing credits tend to be associated with the less poppy numbers here, but the material isn't really that Yes-like - or, rather, it isn't like anything Yes had preivously produced. (Howe's former bandmates would enter the studio to make 90125 about 8 months after this was released, and the influence of this release on their change of direction is noticeable.)

No, of the two Yes men here it's Geoff Downes who seems to have the stronger influence - Geoff's got songwriting credits on about two thirds of the album, and nearly half the songs are Downes/Wetton collaborations. This includes the biggest hits - Heat of the Moment and Only Time Will Tell - which probably explains why all but one of the songs on Alpha are Wetton/Downes pieces (and the exception was written solo by Wetton - The Smile Has Left Your Eyes). Rather than making Asia "Drama 2.0", Downes instead uses the same knack for pop hooks he used to such good effect in the Buggles, with the result that Video Killed the Radio Star is closer to the material on here than, say, Machine Messiah.

The sequencing of the album makes no bones about using the hooky pop numbers to lure you in before treating you to some of the more progressive material. If you're a prog purist, you'll likely be turned off the album before you get to the meatier stuff - but if you enjoy smarter-than-average AOR, it's rather good, and if you want to argue that it's nothing but empty pop rock you clearly didn't pay attention to the whole thing: I defy anyone to listen to Cutting It Fine and say it isn't a damn fine pocket epic, cramming into just over 5 minutes more ideas than some prog outfits manage in 20. The production on this has admittedly dated somewhat - it would have sounded absolutely futuristic on its first release, but some of those 1980s production techniques haven't lasted the test of time as well as others - but otherwise I'd say it's a fine release and certainly no embarrassment to any of the participants. Is it as good as the best of ELP, Yes, the Buggles, King Crimson, or UK? No - but you can miss that target and still be damn good.

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5 stars This is a very enjoyable album if you are looking for a classic rock experience, so I based my entire review on this concept. If you are seeking for a progressive rock album you will be desapointed, because Asia is not a progressive rock supergroup, It is a AOR (adult oriented rock) group, despite i ... (read more)

Report this review (#1690866) | Posted by Andre the Aeropagite | Thursday, February 9, 2017 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Of course I have to listen to Asia's first record too and not just their second and third. Asia uses to have Roger Dean's paintings and they did it from the beginning. 1982 came their debut album called "Asia" with an artistic cover picture showing a water dragon in blue in the sea and we see th ... (read more)

Report this review (#1281440) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Monday, September 22, 2014 | Review Permanlink

1 stars This will probably piss a few people off, but I feel I have to say it. I hate Asia. Sorry, but I really, really can't stand them. Asia is immaculately produced, and generally brilliantly done, but I loathe it. It flies in the face of everything about music that I hold dear, especially from music ... (read more)

Report this review (#1177928) | Posted by JT_Productions | Wednesday, May 21, 2014 | Review Permanlink

1 stars There are several reasons why I think this album is deserving of one star. One, it isn't prog, if it weren't for the stellar line-up I doubt this would even be on this website and even still, it's under 'Prog Related' for a reason. At a base level I cannot understand how this differentiates ... (read more)

Report this review (#1159593) | Posted by MJAben | Wednesday, April 9, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album deserves more attention. It was an album by prog legends, like Carl Palmer, Steve Howe, John Wetton and Geoff Downes. But this project was their commercial take. That cheesy hard rock, something like Whitesnake meets prog rockers. And that's a good job. The difference from A ... (read more)

Report this review (#968404) | Posted by VOTOMS | Saturday, June 1, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars In the "desolate" of early the 80's, the announcement of a new "supergroup" with Steve Howe , Geofrey Downes (both ex YES menbers), Carl Palmer (ex EL&Palmer) and Jonh Wetton (ex King Crimsom, Uriah Heep etc... ) created to me a great expectation. I remember my first contact with ASIA w ... (read more)

Report this review (#937115) | Posted by maryes | Saturday, March 30, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The 1980s...... You can immediate recognice the 1980s sound. The horrible sound of plastic fantastic. I am not a follower of fashion. But the fashion from that time makes even me cringe and feel physically unwell. It is in this context we have to consider this album, almost thirty years after i ... (read more)

Report this review (#487762) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Thursday, July 21, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Asia are a curious supergroup, with their roots firmly entrenched in Progressive Rock, boasting members who derive from Prog mainstays, such as Yes, King Crimson and Emerson Lake & Palmer. However, their approach is appreciably dissimilar. Asia's sound is probably best classified as Arena Rock, d ... (read more)

Report this review (#421095) | Posted by La_Utter_Classe | Wednesday, March 23, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Asia is one of the bands that I think is too great because these are scheduled as simply Rock bands. Some motives are in line-up, first line-up: Carl Palmer: a great drummer, one of my five all time drummer; Steve Howe, not only Yes axeman but a great innovator of guitar; John Wetton, a genius ... (read more)

Report this review (#411427) | Posted by 1967/ 1976 | Saturday, March 5, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Although it may be easy to understand all the hate that is towards Asia's debut album, and Asia in general, this is a great album. It's a great set of musicians making great progressive arena pop rock and making a type of prog rock popular again. The album is very clean and slick sounding, w ... (read more)

Report this review (#306963) | Posted by Jazzywoman | Wednesday, October 27, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars thesis: look for the most cynical thing in modern music and you'll not stray far from the name ASiA. to many people it's the culmination of a particularily nasty episode in modern music, when the industry was suddenly flooded with lawyers, economists and self-described "impressarios", who had ... (read more)

Report this review (#302752) | Posted by iguana | Friday, October 8, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Back in the 80's, during the days when Prog was "dead" to many, this group seemed to me to bring a new breath of air into my music world. I listened to this countless times, saw them in concert, and even met 3 of them Downes, Palmer, and Howe. Back then I would have rated this at least a 4 1/2 ... (read more)

Report this review (#276599) | Posted by mohaveman | Tuesday, April 6, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Ah, possibly one of the most reviled and despised albums in these archives- I can only imagine what must have been felt by someone expecting Asia to usher in a progressive revival, only to find relatively unambitious hard rock. However, I don't know those feelings, and instead I approached this al ... (read more)

Report this review (#272532) | Posted by Neurotarkus | Wednesday, March 17, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars We can see that the musicians of this band are from Yes,ELP,King crimson.....and what do you expect? a super music ...but what we have here is something more simply,and something more easy to hear...i agree with sean trane that this have chorus,verse,chorus,and 10 seconds solo...But is not that ... (read more)

Report this review (#201690) | Posted by JgX 5 | Wednesday, February 4, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This album was well-received back when it was first released, but now seems to be equally despised by proggers and non-proggers alike. The hardcore prog fan felt that these talented musicians sold out by making radio-friendly AOR music, turning their backs on the music which they had previously ... (read more)

Report this review (#192626) | Posted by Lofcaudio | Thursday, December 11, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Even if the creation of a superband like Asia might be questionable (was it for musical purpose or just a matter of money-making?), the result is an excellent debut album. Of course Asia is not a true prog album and purist may find even its presence on a bit mistaken. This al ... (read more)

Report this review (#190993) | Posted by Subterranean | Saturday, November 29, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars In a few words this is one of the best albums of the 80's and not only for progressive rock music. A perfect combination of the core elements of progressive rock with the inevitable but decent AOR or even pop influences of those years-no problem at all for me...! Great musicianship, excellently ... (read more)

Report this review (#189588) | Posted by Silent Knight | Monday, November 17, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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