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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Music Review: ASIA - "Spirit of the Night: Live"

If you look up the term "super group" in the rock and roll dictionary you will probably find a picture of the band ASIA.

Consisting of members from the Prog-Rock bands "YES," "Emerson, Lake & Palmer," "King Crimson" and "The Buggles," ASIA was a massive success and from 1982 - 1984 members John Wetton, Geoff Downes, Steve Howe and Carl Palmer were a force to be reckoned with both in album sales and live performances.

Subsequent infighting and personnel changes diluted the name of ASIA and by 1985 the original foursome were no longer together. Eventually ASIA became a joke or a punchline. Their fate was all but sealed in 2005 when comedian Steve Carell as the "40-Year-Old Virgin" displayed an ASIA poster in his character's bedroom. It just doesn't get more uncool than that.

But, wait!! Was that really the last nail in ASIA's coffin OR did this actually light a fire under the four original members to reform? I like to believe the latter. And so it was, that in 2006, the band embarked on a full scale reunion tour.

Two years later a brand new CD of all original material called "Phoenix" was released and now, in 2011, you can pick up "Spirit of the Night: Live" a CD/DVD recorded live during the "Phoenix" tour. The set list is comprised of songs from the band's two original releases, "Asia" & "Alpha," plus songs from "Phoenix" and it shows the band at the top of their game. It may be a quarter of a century past their heyday, but these guys are playing and singing better than ever -- especially drummer Carl Palmer who must have stock in the fountain of youth.

Now, I know "progressive rock" is very niche and I know that most people roll their eyes and laugh whenever the group ASIA is brought up -- but if you grew up with "Heat Of The Moment," "Only Time Will Tell," and "Don't Cry" blasting out of your Honda Civic then you will definitely want to give this a listen.

"Retro" Drumroll please… 7 out of 10 drumsticks!

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