Asia could never live up to the sales and hype of this debut and although ‘Alpha’ the following year performed well the writing was on the wall by 1985 when the great ‘Astra’ album went nowhere. Does it really matter though? The debut’s impact will live forever, an AOR classic for the ages.
Written by: Dangerzone
SERIAL: GEF 40 85577
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: John Wetton – vocals, bass * Geoff Downes – keyboards * Steve Howe – guitars * Carl Palmer – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Heat Of The Moment * 02 Only Time Will Tell * 03 Sole Survivor * 04 One Step Closer * 05 Time Again * 06 Wildest Dreams * 07 Without You * 08 Cutting It Fine * 09 Here Comes That Feeling
WEBLINKS: Site Link
It wouldn’t be a superfluous statement to suggest ‘Asia’ is the most successful AOR album of all time, having sold over ten million copies and logging nine weeks at the number one position in the heady summer of 1982. Quite an amazing feat considering the state of the music industry a quarter of a century later when you would be hard pressed to find more than a handful of AOR fans who could name a member of the band.
Back then the congregation of Howe and Downes (Yes), Wetton (Roxy Music, King Crimson, Uriah Heep, UK) and Palmer (Emerson, Lake And Palmer) was a major event, an instant supergroup with all hailing from established acts from the 70’s. The resulting album was a clinical display of AOR, that leaned away from the progressive leanings of all involved’s previous bands, but with traces of all noticeable.
Roping in Mike Stone for production added more drama to the proceedings and the US in particular bought into Asia in a massive way. Well for two albums at least!
There’s barely any need to describe ‘Heat Of The Moment’, the eternal AOR anthem played repeatedly all these years later, heavy on Palmer’s explosive drumming passages and some of the slickest harmonies heard in the genre. Joining this as a gigantic US single hit was ‘Only Time Will Tell’, major melodic genius from all concerned yet simple and consistently listenable, a lost art in the haphazard modern age.
‘Sole Survivior’ raises excitement during some pulsating verses, with Downes laying on the keyboards with delicious results, resulting in another long standing band favourite. The opening bars of ‘One Step Closer’ have a Yes type ‘aura’, prog to a degree, but with another radio made hook and archetypal parping synth bursts.
I admire the ELP tinged ‘Time Again’ which moves at a pace reaching back to their ‘Fanfare For The Common Man’ era but updated in relevant AOR style for the early 80’s. How more dramatic could the opening to ‘Wildest Dreams’ possibly be? Coming out of nowhere, the anti war statement can’t live up to that half minute of grandiose effect. ‘Without You’ is one of the lesser numbers, but redeemed by some key synth and guitar breakdowns, melodic to any man.
This is also the saving grace for ‘Cutting It Fine’, the instrumental sections taking precedent. Ending with another dominant AOR track, ‘Here Comes The Feeling’ lives up to the hype expected of the supergroup, thrilling melody lines and an impeccable buildup to a triumphant chorus. This all may have been commercial in 1982, but today would be construed as the devils music!
It’s refreshing and amazing that the general public had good taste once upon a time. Music like this deserved to succeed, simply because it was perfectly executed and conceived by masterful musicians who knew every trick in the book. It was a good idea by Asia to pursue a straight ahead AOR direction, in 1982 it had appeal and a selection of epic fifteen minute pomp overloads might not have had the same impact.
Luckily shades of that style remained, simply in a condensed format. Asia could never live up to the sales and hype of this debut and although ‘Alpha’ the following year performed well the writing was on the wall by 1985 when the great ‘Astra’ album went nowhere. Does it really matter though? The debut’s impact will live forever, an AOR classic for the ages.
Heat Of The Moment
Only Time Will Tell
Entire Album (Select Tracks)