Exposé Online banner

Asia — Phoenix
(EMI 50999 212869 26, 2008, CD)

by Paul Hightower, Published 2008-10-01

Phoenix Cover art

When Asia’s debut hit turntables in 1982 it quickly became clear that this was not the next coming of progressive rock many had hoped for. The names were familiar: John Wetton, Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, and Carl Palmer. But instead of the next incarnation of Yes, King Crimson, or ELP, the world was treated to power-chord arena rock. Good power-chord arena rock, though a far cry from what these musicians were capable of. The 25th anniversary reunion for a new album and world tour has generated plenty of interest, though the studio effort represented here is the least thing to get excited about. Since the late 70s, Wetton and Downes have endeavored to make names for themselves as pop songwriters and Phoenix is replete with ear-friendly, lightweight tunes like “Heroine,” “Alibis,” and “I Will Remember You.” Downes is a good tunesmith and his orchestrations give the songs enough sonic depth to engage the listener. Unfortunately, the lyrics (mainly Wetton’s province) are the album’s Achilles heel. Lines like “Instead I carry a flame — It burns for yooouuuu...” are hard to stomach, and when the entire album operates at this level it can be a chore to sit through. Howe’s spirited guitar playing was credited with making the first Asia albums sound better than they were and his work here is arguably as good if not better than anything he’s done with Yes in recent memory. But — just like 25 years ago — it’s not enough to save this album.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 36, 2008 releases

Related artist(s): Asia, Steve Howe, John Wetton, Geoff Downes

Latest news

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more

2018-06-13
Jon Hiseman RIP – One of the great drummers of the rock era has died. Jon Hiseman was a veteran of such ground-breaking groups as Colosseum (I and II), Tempest, John Mayal's Bleusbreakers, and was a founding member of the innovative large band United Jazz + Rock Ensemble. » Read more

2018-06-05
Koenjihyakkei Seeks Funding for New Album – It's been quite a few years since the last new studio album by the amazing Koenjihyakkei. Now they are preparing Dhormimviskha for worldwide release, and they're asking fans to pre-order via a Kickstarter campaign to help it happen. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Steve Howe - Homebrew – This new CD is a collection of guitar pieces and song writing ventures by the noted Yes guitarist which covers a span of over twenty years work from several solo and band projects. Almost completely...  (1996) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues