KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Satur-debut – ASIA “ASIA”

“And now you find yourself in ’82. The disco hotspots hold no charm for you.” So sang the late, great John Wetton on Asia’s debut single “Heat Of The Moment” which will forever be date-stamped to the year it was released, yet the performances from Wetton & his bandmates Steve Howe, Carl Palmer & Geoff Downes make the song a timeless classic. The same can be said for their entire eponymous debut album. Following the supposed death of progressive rock by the end of the ’70s, the beast re-emerged here in a more radio-friendly guise, and its immediate success (multi-platinum #1 album with two Top 20 singles) had to be a surprise to everyone involved. Also, Roger Dean’s glorious album cover remains a thing of beauty after all these years. I already wrote about my love for this record in the second Great Out Of The Gate post, which you can read below.

For more information on this series, please read the opening paragraph of the first post, which featured the debut album from Led Zeppelin.

From GREAT OUT OF THE GATE Part 2:

This was a huge album for me when it was released a few months before my 16th birthday. The quartet of guitarist Steve Howe (Yes), drummer Carl Palmer (ELP), keyboardist Geoff Downes (Buggles/Yes) and bassist/vocalist John Wetton (King Crimson/UK) combined the top-notch musicianship of my favorite progressive rock bands with concise, catchy, radio-friendly songs. The result was a multi-platinum chart-topping album and single (“Heat Of The Moment”), and Roger Dean’s fantastic cover design was the perfect complement to the music. After punk & new wave turned “prog” into a 4-letter word in the music industry throughout the second half of the ‘70s, the beast awoke in 1982 and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. Between their aforementioned #1 hit single and the two songs that followed (“Only Time Will Tell” and “Sole Survivor”), Asia opens with a 1-2-3 punch that’s hard to beat. They also strike the perfect balance between catchy & complicated on semi-epics like “Time Again,” “Wildest Dreams” and “Here Comes The Feeling.” This lineup would only last through one more album, but the Asia name has continued with multiple musicians throughout the years, Downes being the one constant throughout their career. Ironically, the original Asia reunited in 2006 and released three studio albums before Howe jumped ship to focus on Yes and his solo career. It’s been great to have Asia back in circulation again, but none of their subsequent recordings reached the same heights as their magnificent debut.

I have to imagine that even people who don’t like “prog” because they think of multi-part suites and self-indulgent instrumental noodling would find a lot to like here, with concise songs, instantly catchy melodies and tasteful musicianship. Without this record I’m not sure Yes would have experienced the kind of success they did with the following year’s 90125. Prog was alive & well in the ’80s & beyond.

22 comments on “Satur-debut – ASIA “ASIA”

  1. deKE
    October 12, 2019

    What an opening riff on this album for Heat of the Moment! Holy Moly Rich. This has to be the first supergroup that I ever heard off as a 15 year old back in 82! The funny thing is I read about all there previous bands they were in the magazines back than but actually had never ​heard them!
    Pretty i​mpressive debut and I’m searching for a decent copy of this one used as there are some out there but they are in so so condition.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Derek, you should seek out the “Gold” compilation (possibly also called “Anthology”) which is a 2-CD set that includes the entire first three albums and all b-sides. And the sound is outstanding. The only thing you’ll be missing is the artwork.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. christiansmusicmusings
    October 12, 2019

    Great album. Really dig “Heat of the Moment” and also like the other tunes.

    I had no idea of the musicians behind Asia. I would never have guessed their prog rock backgrounds!

    “Heat of the Moment” and most of the other tracks on the album sound much more like pop rock to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Christian, I’m surprised you weren’t aware of the lineage that went into the creation of Asia. I hear a lot of progressive rock tendencies on this record, but they’re serving more streamlined songs. It was a smart move on their part, because in 1982 there was no longer a mass audience for concept albums and side-long suites.

      Liked by 1 person

      • christiansmusicmusings
        October 13, 2019

        While I always liked the music from this album, Asia admittedly weren’t particularly high on my radar screen. Plus, unlike today where I like to explore the backgrounds of artists, in the ’80s, I primarily focused on the music with a few exceptions.

        I’m glad I now understand where these guys came from – better late than never! 🙂

        Like

      • “Better late than never.” So true. I’m 53 and still discovering music I skipped over in the past, or appreciating things I previously dismissed. It’s all about keeping an open mind & open ears.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Bill P
    October 12, 2019

    Rich,

    First off, nice new profile pic! You’re remodeling the site! Ha ha

    While I absolutely agree with deKE that the opening riff to “Heat of the Moment” kicks @r$e and is a solid opening statement by the band, I have to say that I prefer “Only Time Will Tell” and its younger sister, “Don’t Cry” from the subsequent Alpha album. I never thought about this vs. Yes’s 90125 success but I think you have a strong point.

    Since I only have the Then & Now comp, I wasn’t as familiar with the other tunes on this album until I listened this afternoon. “Time Again” and “Sole Survivor” certainly have more of the earlier prog-gy roots. “Here Comes The Feeling” too. “Sole Survivor” sounds like a cross between Terry Kath-era Chicago with Styx or perhaps Elefante-era Kansas (the latter of which is more or less coeval with this effort.)

    I love the John Wetton vocals on nearly all of these tracks. Sadly missed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Bill. Thanks for noticing the new profile pic. After 5 years I figured it was time for an update. That’s the extent of my “remodel.”

      Asia was really good at creating those intros. Not sure I have a favorite, but I remember how excited I was the first time I heard the intro to “Heat Of The Moment.” It blew away my 16-year-old brain, but even more amazing to me was Steve Howe’s guitar work, especially in the outro. So melodic yet quirky.

      Good call on the Elefante-era Kansas connection. I hadn’t thought of it before but as soon as I read your comment I made the link between Asia and songs like “Fight Fire With Fire” and “Play The Game Tonight.” I believe those were both Elefante tracks, right?

      John Wetton’s voice was a thing of beauty, whether it was King Crimson, UK or Asia. I’m so glad I saw the reunited lineup on their first tour. His voice still sounded great.

      Like

      • Bill P
        October 14, 2019

        Yeah, those are really the 2 big Elefante-era tracks. They also have a tune they recorded in his waning days with the band that was put on Best of Kansas called “Perfect Lover.” It’s is a great AOR track but they took it off the updated version; it is still on the earlier one that I own.

        I’m envious you got to see Wetton live. I’m sure it was a great show.

        Like

      • I don’t remember “Perfect Lover” but will have to revisit it. Thanks for letting me know. As for seeing Wetton, I was really impressed by how well his voice held up over the years. I saw Asia in 2006, so that was nearly a quarter century after the debut album was released.

        Like

  4. 80smetalman
    October 13, 2019

    This was the first album I picked up after my return to the US following my second deployment overseas. Everything you say here is dead right. It’s just a shame they couldn’t really follow it up, at least commercially.

    Like

    • An excellent first purchase upon your return to the states. I agree that they couldn’t catch lightning in a bottle again. Even though they did some excellent songs after the debut, none of their albums are top-to-bottom classics. I even like a lot of the John Payne-era material, but they were pretty much a completely different band with only the name (and Geoff Downes) in common.

      Liked by 1 person

      • 80smetalman
        October 14, 2019

        Confession, I didn’t actually buy it. When I got home on leave following that deployment, I discovered my sister had already bought it. So,I had to borrow it.

        Like

      • But it was the first thing you “acquired” so that’s the important thing. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  5. stephen1001
    October 13, 2019

    I’ve seen the album cover but have yet to hear in its entirety. Delighted to read they have a Geoff in the lineup!

    Like

    • Not sure how the album will sound to a youngster like yourself (haha), but if you enjoy some of the songs you’ve heard it’s well worth a listen to the whole album. I was at a record fair today and saw numerous copies for reasonable prices.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. 2loud2oldmusic
    October 13, 2019

    I think this was their best one. They never seem to find that magic again on any of the others (IMO). They did break a golden rule by putting a date in their song because as you said, it will forever date the song. It loses a little of that timeless feel…but it still is as it is too good not to be.

    Like

    • Somehow it retains a timeless quality for me, but I can imagine someone hearing it for the first time now would immediately realize how old it is. I agree that this is the best thing they did, and I doubt there are many fans (other than those who like to go against the grain) who feel otherwise.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. kevin
    October 16, 2019

    Pre-Asia, a lot of my friends would make fun of me for listening to bands they either didn’t like or never heard of. Asia was a combination of those very bands, and in the summer of ’82, I was vindicated! These were my guys everyone was now listening to. A fantastic album.

    I saw them on their reunion tour in ’06. I’m glad I got the chance to see the original lineup, even if it was 25 years later.

    Like

    • Sorry you had so many friends who didn’t like Asia…or progressive rock. Fortunately most of my circle of friends in high school had similar tastes, and I only lost a few of them (or at least their respect) when I started enjoying songs by artists like Culture Club and Spandau Ballet. Asia was one of those touchstone albums for so many of us in high school, and I’m amazed at how great it still sounds.

      I also saw the ’06 reunion tour and had a blast. I couldn’t believe how good Wetton’s voice held up.

      Like

  8. David & Laura Speer
    October 23, 2019

    82 was a great year! Great album

    Like

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