|First posted 9/10/2020.|
This page highlights three compilations of the band Asia, covering the years 1982 to 1990. The collections are:
Under each album snapshot, charting songs featured on the anthologies are noted. After the song title, the date of the song’s release or first chart appearance and its chart peaks are noted in parentheses. Click for codes to singles charts.
The Formation of Asia:
When John Wetton (King Crimson), Steve Howe (Yes), Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), and Geoff Downes (Yes, Buggles) joined forces as Asia, appetites were whetted for the supergroup with an enviable resume, specifically in the progressive rock realm. However, the group received “venomous criticism from the so-called hip music press.” BA “Perhaps the formation seemed cooked up by dollar-blinded record-company brass and even the musicians themselves,” BA but the group “expertly combined stellar instrumental prowess with killer hooks and choruses – and, yeah, more than a little bombast.” BA
Regardless of what the critics thought, the record-buying public lapped up Asia’s 1982 self-titled debut, sending it to the top of the Billboard album chart for nine weeks in the U.S. It was “a strong collection of melodic, sweeping, muscular arena rock” TD which produced a top-five pop hit with Heat of the Moment) and a top-twenty follow-up Only Time Will Tell. Then & Now includes both of those songs as well as Wildest Dreams, a minor album rock hit from Asia, but inexplicably omits Sole Survivor, a top-ten album rock song.
Their sophomore album, Alpha, came a year later. The album was another top-ten, platinum seller led by top-ten hit Don’t Cry. That album also produced the top-40 hit The Smile Has Left Your Eyes. These are both on Then & Now, but a third album rock hit, the #5 The Heat Goes On, which “showed the original quartet still had some magic,” BA fails to make the cut.
After that, the band sort of derailed. Steve Howe left and the group put out 1985’s Astra with Mandy Meyer on guitar. His biggest claim to fame was with the band Krokus, which hardly put him in the same ballpark as future Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Steve Howe. Still, the album was “unjustly ignored.” BA It offered up another top-ten song, the “explosive rocker Go,” BA on the album rock chart, but the song stalled short of the top 40 on the pop charts. The album also featured the minor album rock hit Too Late (#30). Neither song is featured on Then & Now, but album cut Voice of America is.
Then & Now
In the end, Then & Now is a “poorly conceived compilation.” BA Considering the few hits Asia had, it would seem to be an easy task to gather them together in one package, but Then & Now largely misses the boat. Sure, it gathers the most obvious songs with “Heat of the Moment,” “Only Time Will Tell,” “Don’t Cry,” and “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes,” but the collection is flawed because of the absence of top-ten album rock songs “Sole Survivor,” “The Heat Goes On,” and “Go.” Also, how did the band miss the obvious and not title this collection Anthology given their predilection for giving their previous albums titles all starting with “A”?
The Very Best of: Heat of the Moment (1982-1990)
|The flaws with Then & Now were corrected with this collection. The three unnecessary new songs from Then & Now were eschewed in favor of the three aforementioned top-ten album rock songs, although “Sole Survivor” and “Here Comes the Feeling” are “the choppily edited single versions.” BA The collection also added the B-sides “Ride Easy,” “Daylight,” and “Lying to Yourself.” However, the set is bloated with six songs each from the first two albums, meaning a few unnecessary album cuts creep in.|
The Definitive Collection
|This set weeded out some of the forgettable album cuts which clogged up The Very Best of, including the three B-sides which, while interesting to Asia’s faithful followers, are not vital songs. In the end, this ends up being the most focused of the three collections discussed here. I’d prefer to see “Rock and Roll Dream” and “Countdown to Zero” from Astra instead of “Open Your Eyes” and “Wishing,” but that’s just a personal choice.|
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