“Gold” by Asia

Artist: Asia
Title: “Gold”
Label: Universal Music
Release Date: 6/14/2005
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 4/5

The idea of taking members of Yes, ELP and The Buggles might strike you as potentially bringing about the greatest Progressive Rock outfit of all time but the end result would be a far different project and the media splash that would surround it become nothing less than historic. That was pretty much the end result when Carl Palmer, Steve Howe, John Wetton and Geoff Downes formed this group with the assistance of Brian Lane (manager of Yes). The players and their legendary bands all had the support of the die hard Progressive fans but the music of Asia was so far from Prog and instead more a borderline commercial Rock outfit. In 1982 being “commercial” was not necessarily a bad thing and just guaranteed the group a more consistent level of radio play. At the time Rock radio ruled the airwaves and you would continually hear ELP, Yes and Triumph along with Zeppelin, Who and Stones. Disco had moved from a full movement to a scattering of supporters and Rock music was again on the rise. Soon “Hair Metal” and “Thrash Metal” would rise but now we find ourselves in ’82 (sorry I could not resist). To call the self-titled debut of Asia a blockbuster would be an understatement and the first single from the album “Heat Of The Moment” would be a chart-topping phenomena. The main reason for this occurrence would be the wide spread appeal that their music offered to the listener. Instead of long-winded displays of musical precision there were tasty hooks and catchy lyrics that just brought a wider audience into the bands camp. The other interesting thing would be the sizable female audience that this band won over for at the time Progressive styling was hardly something that the gender found much interest in. No less than half of the first album made it to regular rotation on stations and the album itself sold millions of copies giving the members the highest chart positions as Asia than they ever received in their other bands.

Their second album attempted to work more on this winning angle but the magic of the first release was not as present even with some solid efforts on its tracks (songs like “Don’t Cry” and “The Heat Goes On” were among the most popular from it). As a listener I was moving more to the Metal side and hence left Asia behind which made the Gold edition release a great listen for me. Later in their career the band had some membership changes with Carl Palmer moving on and Steve Howe returning to Yes while the others remained and kept bringing music to those that wished to listen. The Gold edition is remastered and offers you the first two albums in their entirety, and with a pristine production for “Asia” and “Alpha” the CD set is worth the price of admission on this alone. The readers should be aware that this collection was previously released on Geffen Records as “Anthologia” in case they own that release. As a result of this you will also find the complete inclusion of both “Astra” and “Then & Now” as well along with a number of B-sides and a great historical essay and photos in the booklet. I did not compare the booklets against each other but it is safe to assume that the information is the same. This is a real booklet while the other was a multi-page foldout and those can get annoying sometimes. I admit to being guilty of not following the band after the first two albums and that makes this collection a little more appealing to me. It brings you a little deeper into their career and background which is never a bad thing and since this early material is the most celebrated this is a must have since so much of it is present in one place. Historically, the CD covers the years 1982-1990 and while the band has some other albums, these are the ones that have withstood the sands of time. Find the heat of the moment once again.

Track List:
1. Heat Of The Moment
2. Only Time Will Tell
3. Sole Survivor
4. One Step Closer
5. Time Again
6. Wildest Dreams
7. Without You
8. Cutting It Fine
9. Here Comes The Feeling
10. Ride Easy
11. Don’t Cry
12. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
13. Never In A Million Years
14. My Own Time (I’ll Do What I Want)
15. The Heat Goes On
16. Eye To Eye
17. The Last To Know
18. Midnight Sun
19. Open Your Eyes
20. Daylight
21. Lyin’ To Yourself
22. Go
23. Voice Of America
24. Hard On Me
25. Wishing
26. Rock and Roll Dream
27. Countdown To Zero
28. Love Now Till Eternity
29. Too Late
30. Suspicion
31. After The War
32. Am I In Love
33. Summer (Cant Last Too Long)
34. Prayin’ 4 A Miracle
35. Days Like These

Official Web site: http://www.originalasia.com

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