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Asia - 'XXX' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/12/ba/79/2454_asiaxxx_1341597593.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     July 06, 2012    
 
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A strong album.

It's hard to believe that it’s 30 years since Asia's eponymous debut album was released. Containing the huge hit ‘Heat Of The Moment’ the album quickly went to number one in the US and remained there for an astonishing 9 consecutive weeks and went on to become the highest selling album in North America that year. The original line up reformed in 2006 releasing ‘Phoenix’ in 2008 and ‘Omega’ in 2010. They now return with the aptly titled "XXX"

The album kicks off with 'Tomorrow The World' which is an up-tempo number, although it starts off with a Geoff Downes piano piece before the band kick in. It's driven by Downes' keyboards and Steve Howe adds some very neat guitar work. 'Bury Me In Willow' is a mid paced song featuring clever lyrics and a powerful vocal by John Wetton. Downes has a gentle keyboard solo midway through and the song ends with an extended keyboard solo. 'No Religion' is the first of two co-writes by Howe (all songs are written by Wetton/Downes). This is a rocky number and features another catchy keyboard solo which leads into an excellent solo by Howe and towards the end of the song there is clever interplay between guitar and keyboards. 'Faithful' is initially a slower number, however, after the first couple of verses and choruses it picks up and there is some great guitar work from Steve Howe and some intense drumming by Carl Palmer. 'I Know How You Feel' is again driven by Geoff Downes' keyboard (the intro is reminiscent of Supertramp). Interesting bass work from Wetton and some very good layered backing vocals.

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Next up is my favourite song on the album and first single 'Face On The Bridge'; it is a very catchy tune with memorable hooks and chorus and containing a couple of excellent solos from Howe. 'Al Gatto Nero' translated as the Black Cat is another catchy number with more fine drumming by Palmer. The second co-write from Howe 'Judas' is a rockier number and is one of the more straightforward tracks on the album. The final song on the standard CD is 'Ghost Of A Chance' which starts off for the first two minutes with a gentle piano and vocal and semi-acoustic guitar solo. The final two minutes come alive with a couple of trademark Steve Howe steel guitar solos and some great orchestral keyboards from Geoff Downes. It is the shortest song on the album at just over four minutes (most of the songs are 5 - 6 minutes long), however, it is a fitting end to a fine album. The deluxe version includes a bonus song called 'Reno' and a remix of 'I Know How You Feel'. I've not yet heard either so cannot comment.

The album has a great production from Mike Paxman (he also produced the last album), it is crisp and clear. Roger Dean has designed a wonderful cover which encapsulates previous designs notably the debut album.

Overall this is a strong album, I wouldn't go as far as to say that it is a natural follow up to the debut Asia album as has been mentioned in some corners, but I do rate it. My only reservation is that certain songs are a little too mid-paced and could do with a little more variation. Geoff Downes is very prominent and plays a key role (pardon the pun). However, if you like Asia I don't think you will be disappointed by this release. 

Az Chaudhry

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Comments (1)add comment

Kevin Clarkson said:

...
Your review is right on the money.
I agree XXX is a strong album, but it's also very enjoyable too.
Over the years I've found that some albums that are considered strong, are un-fun to listen to, but not with this album. It keeps calling be back.
 
July 07, 2012
Votes: +0

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