Reviewed by Eric on 07 Sep 2002
Asia - the mere mention of the group sends many Prog fans running, but my experience with some of these people and the scene in general leads me to believe many live in a vacuum. Their view of the music industry and all its short comings, the bands they love, and the realities of being a musician and trying to earn a living seem to come from fantasy, and not real world. Add an ever increasing element of prog rock PC and little knowledge of music history, we are left with those who seem to enjoy tearing down an artists work in the name of 'artistic integrity', or to satisfy whatever need they might have to feel better about their music, themselves or both. Asia and their debut has long been a lightning rod of this criticism, and a prime target for those who believe it represents the worst example of 'sellout'. The odd thing is, many of the same elements of this record had already appeared on the UK album 'Danger Money' three years earlier and while excellent certainly had commercial leanings, although not as defined or 'radio ready' as Asia. Perhaps it was the inclusion of Geoff Downes on keys which many feel never fit with Yes very well, or that Yes and ELP left the 70’s with very little grace and had alienated fans after 'Love Beach' and 'Tormato'.
Whatever the reason this is not a bad record taken on its own. Sure it fit with times as Journey and Foreigner were at their peak of popularity, but there was much more going on here than just AOR overkill. The playing is exemplary as expected, and there is a majestic quality to many of the songs which does harken back to the glory days of ELP, not to mention memorable hooks which seem to stick in your mind long after the album is over. It’s not 'Tarkus', but good for what it is. Considering these guys would have had a hard time getting arrested when no one wanted to hear from Progressive Rock, it was cool to see them back in the spotlight once again.