The cover artwork for the albums I have is created by Roger Dean. His art made the “Yes”, “Uriah Heap” and “Asia” albums iconic. He even sued James Cameron for using one of his covers as an inspiration for an Avatar scene.
So how did Asia come into my life?
It started with the magazines “Guitar World” and “Guitar For The Practicing Musician”. Steve Howe always made an appearance and the storytelling in the interviews always revolved around the influential “Yes” albums and his pop “Asia” career.
So into the 90s when everyone traded in their record collection and purchased CDs instead, I managed to pick up the first three “Asia” albums and most of the “Yes” catalogue up to the early 80s at a very cheap price.
By cheap, I mean each record was $3 but buy 10 records for $20.
And when I got home, I played “Asia” first because hey, those albums came out in the 80s and I was an 80s child.
The debut album released in 1982.
Heat Of The Moment
I dropped the needle and I heard “Heat Of The Moment” and I was like, fuck, is this Asia. At that point in time I’d heard the song heaps but never knew the artist.
Only Time Will Tell
I love the way it starts. Then it’s AOR Journey like in the verses and very Euro like sounding in the pre-Chorus.
You can hear why Asia had huge sales in 82, as fans of rock music gravitated to this style.
It’s progressive rock mixed with jazz and it’s perfect. It could have been a format to go with but it didn’t seem to be.
It has this middle jazz like drum solo with some simple chords behind it which gets me playing air drums.
That guitar lead from 3.05. Yeah, it’s the most simplest lick Howe has played, but the most powerful.
Cutting It Fine
The intro leads are brilliant, going over three octaves.
Asia – Alpha
“Alpha” (released in 83) sold a lot but it was still seen as a failure by the record label.
For me, Steve Howe was in the band, but he wasn’t really part of the song writing, so you don’t hear his progressive jazzy bluesy fusion vibe in the songs.
John Wetton and Geoff Downes did most of the songwriting and it’s pop rock all the way.
For some reason the start just hooks me in. It’s like a REO Speedwagon song merged with the groove/chord progression from “Stand By Me”.
Musically and melodically it connects. Lyrics, not so much.
The Heat Goes On
Again how cool is the intro. It reminds of the “Staying Alive” movie which Stallone directed, merged with Aldo Nova and Billy Squier. I dig the melodies and music, but as bands overused the word “rock” in song titles, Asia overused the word “heat”.
As soon as I heard the start of the song I thought of Marillion, but Asia came first.
And all those people you call friends
See who defends you when you’re down again
Don’t count on money-spinners then
The truth is no one defends you when you’re down. Everyone is serving their own interest.
Open Your Eyes
And see the world that stands before you now
So true. Open your eyes people and see what stands before you. Do your own research. Read far and wide and listen to arguments for and arguments against your views.
Released in 1985 and Steve Howe is missing, because of a power play by vocalist John Wetton, as part of his return to the band. Mandy Meyer from Krokus is on guitar duties for an album which is really lacking.
A song called “Rock and Roll Dream” had no rock and roll. And when Brits write a song called “Voice Of America”, well it comes across as a money grab for the US market. So it was no surprise the album failed commercially and the tour was pulled.