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

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ash Ra Tempel - The Best of the Private Tapes – Ash Ra Tempel is one of the core founder bands of the German space rock movement along with Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. But the group has suffered from less stateside notoriety than those previous...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues