Artist:  Asia
   Title: Phoenix
   Label: Frontiers Records

And so the wait is over, the reformed original Asia line-up have recorded the follow-up to 'Alpha'. It may not be what the world’s been waiting for, but this is a supergroup in all senses of the word. 

The album opens with 'Never Again', and it’s like hearing a track from that very first album.  This is an up-tempo number, full-on melodies and lush keyboards and John Wetton is on fine form in the vocal department.

'Nothing’s Forever' opens acapello before the parp of Downes keyboard. This is a moody, atmospheric song with some great melodies and harmonies.  'Heroine' is up next, a powerful ballad full of pomp and circumstance, featuring some beautiful guitarwork from Mr Howe and a wonderful soaring chorus.

The triumvirate of 'Sleeping Giant', 'No Way Back' and 'Reprise' is spellbinding with some wonderful prog moments, lush keyboards and singalong chorus.  Next up is 'Alibis', the poppiest tune on the album and featuring the word procrastination in the chorus, only Asia could get away with that one. 'I Will Remember You' is another ballad, a fine emotive Wetton vocal performance and soaring chorus.

'Shadow Of A Doubt' picks up the pace again but has a similiar melody to 'I Will Remember You' until the chorus where it just takes off.  Another trio of tunes in the form of 'Parallel Worlds', 'Vortex' and 'Deya' follows on, 8 minutes near operatic genius a wonderful medley, soaring vocals and killer harmonies.

'Wish I’d Known All Along' brings Wetton to the fore on this song, a funky, up-tempo tune.  Following on is 'Orchard Of Mines', an atmospheric and moody piece with some wonderful keyboard parts from Downes.

'Over And Over' is next and possibly the weakest song on the album but is still a wonderful melodic tune.  Which brings us to the final track 'An Extraordinary Life' based on Mr Wetton’s recent health problems.  Starting off a little subdued, this song builds leading into an almost anthemic chorus.  An uplifting piece of music and a great way to finish the album.

The muscianship on here is top quality and there are some outstanding moments.  If this album had been released in the 80’s it would have sold shedloads, as it is it will go down in history as one of Asia’s best efforts like a phoenix rising from the ashes.

*Review by Brassy

Tracklisting:

1 Never Again
2 Nothing's Forever
3 Heroine
4 Sleeping Giant/ No Way Back / Reprise
5 Alibis
6 I Will Remember You
7 Shadow Of A Doubt
8 Parallel Worlds / Vortex/ Deya
9 Wish I'd Known All Along
10 Orchard Of Mines
11 Over And Over
12 An Extraordinary Life

                  

 

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