Monday, June 15, 2009

The Top 100

It was the spring of 1982. I was the music director at KY102 in Kansas City. Teh Warner Brothers rep told me of this new supergroup that I immediately laughed off. Supergroup? Great. How many times have I heard that? Right around March of 1982, they exploded on the scene.
Asia began with the apparent demise of Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, two of the flagship bands of British progressive rock. After the break-up of King Crimson in 1974, various plans for a super group involving bassist John Wetton had been mooted, including the abortive British Bulldog project with Bill Bruford and Rick Wakeman in 1976. In 1977, Bruford and Wetton were reunited in UK, along with guitarist Allan Holdsworth and keyboardist/violinist Eddie Jobson. Their eponymous debut was released in 1978. By 1980, after UK's demise, a new super group project was suggested involving Wetton, Wakeman, drummer Carl Palmer and (then little known) guitarist Trevor Rabin, but Wakeman walked out of the project shortly before they were due to sign to Geffen and before they had ever played together. Rabin, in a filmed interview from 1984 and included in the recently released and updated DVD 9012Live, said that his involvement with this project never went anywhere because "there was no chemistry" among the participants.
In early 1981, Wetton and Yes guitarist Steve Howe were brought together by A&R man John Kalodner and Geffen Records to start working and writing. They were eventually joined by Carl Palmer, and finally by Howe's recent Yes cohort, keyboardist Geoff Downes. The band's early offerings, under the auspices of Geffen record label head David Geffen and Kalodner, were considered disappointing by music critics and fans of traditional progressive rock, who found the music closer to radio-friendly AOR pop-rock. However, Asia clicked with fans of arena acts such as Journey, Boston, and Styx. Rolling Stone gave Asia an indifferent review, while still acknowledging the band's musicianship was a cut above the usual AOR expectations.
It was this progressive rock fan's dream. "Heat of the Moment" which sounds very dated today (because of the reference to the year 1982 in the lyrics)hit the airwaves first, then "Only Time Will Tell", and "Soul Survivor". My favorites on the disc include "Time Again", "Wildest Dreams" and "Here Comes the Feeling". This was the largest selling album of 1982 with over 4 million copies sold. I saw these guys at the Starlight Theater in the summer and it was incredibly hot. This goes down in my top 100 of all time. Sadly, they never got close to this record in the future.
They have broken up and reunited more time than anyone can count.

4 comments:

Brian Holland said...

"Time Again" and "Here Comes The Feeling"--two killer tracks off an outstanding album.

What's left of Asia is playing with what's left of Yes at the Uptown Theater later this summer--you can pay 65 bucks (or more) to hear Jon Anderson whiff on the high notes. I think I'll pass...

Matt said...

Still one of my faves as well. Glad to see you back - I was starting to wonder!!

dr sardonicus said...

I never warmed up to this one. Overall, they were less than the sum of their parts.

MorpheousNeo said...

I was there that hot summer day at Starlight. They played great and still have a place in my music library. From all the good and bad that came out of the 80's, they might have been Corporate Rock at its finest but those were the times...Only Time Will Tell!

Jim M

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