Sunday, January 10, 2016

Asia - 1978 - Asia



01 Love May Be Gone
02 A Better Man For Leaving
03 The Taming Of The Bull
04 The Road Of Kings
05 Law Of The Land
06 Requiem (A.M Radio Blues)

Michael English - vocals, bass, percussion
Larry Galbraith - vocals, guitars, mandolin
Mike Coates - guitars, mandolin, piano, harpsichord, mellotron, background vocals
John Haynes - drums, percussion

Before the guys from Yes formed the million selling band from the UK called Asia, there was already an American band of the same name in operation.. This version hails all the way from the unlikely breeding ground of Rapid City South Dakota. The origins of Asia (American version) can be traced back to the group Whitewing who disbanded in 1976. From these proverbial ashes, Asia rose. By all accounts Whitewing had been the victims of a disastrous marketing ploy by record company ASI who tried to promote them as the next Moody Blues. The heavier reality came somewhat as a shock to the many booking agents and club owners at the time. This being the 1970's my theory is that the record company executives were under the influence of substances somewhat stronger than the odd joint. This can surely be the only rational explanation for such an interesting (for interesting read idiotic) decision! Asia were formed, to quote band leader and creative driving force Mike Coates, 'with the express intent of capitalizing on the successes of Whitewing and learning from their failures.' It's difficult for me to define the band's sound as they don't sound derivative of anyone in particular and I find myself grappling with the many superlatives that spring to mind. A crude analogy I guess would be progressive hard rock with symphonic tendencies. Indeed many of the songs on both albums are lengthy workouts characterised by fantastic lead and harmony vocals from singers Michael English and Larry Galbraith and a virtuoso performance on guitar from Mike Coates. To cap it all, the lyrics are both thought provoking and soul searching at the same time.

On the self titled debut, Asia create an indelible first impression with 'Love May Be Gone' with its twin hard driving guitars and excellent dual vocals from Michael English and Larry Galbraith. It also has an instrumental bridge sounding reminiscent of 'Detroit Rock City' by Kiss - but don't let that put you off. Elsewhere you have the haunting, philosophical 'Better Man For Leaving' and the epic 'Taming Of The Bull'. 'The Road Of Kings' (their first single) is highlighted by it's unforgettable hookline, and one of the few occasions when a mandolin has been used by a hard rock band to great effect (the gauntlet is down for those of you who know of anything better!). The debut closes with the decidedly caustic 'Requiem (A.M.Radio Blues)', which was supposed to be a broadside to the Disco/New wave movement. However, the line "all those grease paint guys in their nine inch highs" sounds suspiciously like a thinly veiled swipe at the stack heeled self-styled 'Gods of Thunder' Kiss. Given that the band was supposed to have supported Kiss during this period, there must have been some interesting backstage conversations!

The band would follow this debut effort with the superior 'Armed To The Teeth', which turned up in 1980.

This is typical and highly energetic US Hard Rock with minor prog influences on the instrumental parts.And while Asia had nothing new to add to the scene, everything in this album is well-played, featuring a decent production.With three members playing the guitars it is reasonable that Asia's sound was based on the guitar solos, grooves and leads.The opening tracks ''Love maybe gone'' and ''A better man for leavin'' have even an early-RUSH vibe, nice and bluesy Hard Rock with great vocals by English and some furious guitar moves.The long ''The taming of the bull'' is somewhere between Hard Rock and Progressive/Pomp Rock, reminding a bit of ATLANTIS PHILHARMONIC more accesible moments, highlighted by the complex middle-based guitar workouts and the superb Mellotron waves throughout.''The road of kings'' is a typical Soft Rock track, very melodic, with excellent vocal lines, good guitar solos and it even features a harpsichord.With ''.Law of the land'' Asia returh to the form of the opening tracks, dynamic bluesy Hard Rock in the vein of LED ZEPPELIN with a catchy groove, some nice riffs and an overall powerful guitar performance.With ''Requiem'' anyone would expect a sensitive farewell, but again Asia chose the energetic Hard/Pomp Rock way to close the album, guitar-driven musicianship with memorable choruses and strong doses of sharp solos next to some complicated guitar moves.



  2. Hey this is really good..... better than the other Asia I reckon......