RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

ASIA – British Live Performance Series
Rainman Records

Rating: C+

Asia was formed as a supergroup in the early 1980s that featured John Wetton from King Crimson, Carl Palmer from ELP, Steve Howe from Yes and Geoff Downes from the Buggles.

The band’s self-titled debut sold over six million copies and made them more famous than any of the groups they had been with—at least for the rest of 1982!  After a disappointing follow-up, the band lost Steve Howe and each album sold less.

When this performance was recorded the band was still together, yet times were tough.  The prog era was over and hair bands were even giving way to Grunge.  Asia was no longer relevant, only 8 short years after they stood at the top of the pop-prog musical mountain.

This set, recorded in 1990 in Nottingham, England sees the band putting on a good performance despite their struggles.  Three of the four founding members remained, with guitarist Howe being replaced by ex-Pat Travers Band axe-man Pat Thrall.

The concert sees the band performing the songs without any bells and whistles.  There are times during this performance that some of the sounds one expects to hear from the albums are just not there.  The band decided to play as they were, rather than augment their sound with backing tracks and sound bytes, for which they should be applauded.

Obviously, everyone plays well and the band is at it’s best when playing the big hits such as set opening “Wildest Dreams,” “Sole Survivor,” “Don’t Cry,” “Only Time Will Tell” and “Heat of the Moment.”  Other tunes including “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes,” “Days Like These” and “Go” all come across well. The rest of the tracks suffer as Asia tunes like “Praying for a Miracle” and “The Heat Goes On” just seem tired, and even boring.

It is a good set by a good band.  It is a true live album, warts and all, but in the end it is a solid effort.  If this was a concert from 1982 with Steve Howe onboard… it could be better and more authentic.  That said, it is a cool look back in time at a band trying to stay alive during a turbulent period.

That, and any live recording that features John Wetton’s unique vocals (like Night After Night by UK) is good enough for me!

Track List:
Wildest Dreams
Sole Survivor
Don't Cry
Voice of America
Time Again
Praying For A Miracle
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
Only Time Will Tell
Days Like These
The Heat Goes On
Heat Of The Moment
Open Your Eyes

By Jeb “Voice of America” Wright