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Anthology: Special Edition
Artist: Asia 
Label: Inside Out Music
Length: 17/79:28

Those of us who grew up in the '80's recall Asia as being one of rock's first supergroups.  Incorporating members of The Buggles, Yes, King Crimson, Roxy Music, and Uriah Heep, the new group enjoyed massive success with the eponymous Asia, and its follow up, Astra. Singles "Heat of the Moment" and "Only Time Will Tell" vaulted the band to over 10 million sales, an MTV special, and a live concert broadcast.

Unfortunately, the revolving door of musicians that ensued after those two records doomed the band to "big in Europe" status.  Asia never stopped releasing records (in fact, Anthology is their twenty-fifth disc), but with the lineup changing with each release, they faded from public view, with only the die hard fans aware of their itinerary.

Here is the problem with Anthology in a nutshell: rather than using the original tracks over the years that made them famous, lawsuits have forced the current lineup to re-record "Heat of the Moment" and "Only Time Will Tell" in order to avoid copyright infringement.  John Payne is the new vocalist, and is reasonably talented, but the new versions pale to the originals.  At times Payne even resembles Michael McDonald, which is about as far away from prog as you can be.  "Arena" is prog lite, without the force needed to elevate it to elite status.

"Feels Like Love" is a light metal, almost emo piece that sounds like early Whitesnake.  I'm curious to know what criteria were used to compile this album, as minor hit "Sole Survivor" is absent.  They did see fit, however, to include a redone version of "Don't Cry," which again falls short of its predecessor.

Anthology lends itself to the idea that this group may have gone to the well once too often.  With several compilations under their belt, and the fact that '80's nostalgia never dies, it would seem wiser to settle the lawsuits, and give the fans the original recordings that drew them to the band in the first place.  There is not much here to
attract new fans, and the faithful will be disappointed.

Brian A. Smith
25 July 2005



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