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4.4 out of 5 stars18
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VINE VOICEon 10 January 2003
I have been a fan of Asia for many years, and this is still my favourite album.
A lot of prople felt that Asia should have developed the "prog" aspect of their music on this album, but instead they penned the radio-friendly monster hit "Don't Cry", and despite the immediate success, lost some of their fan-base.
However, I think it's an excellent track. The lead guitar melody that starts off the song is great (apparently played by John Wetton after Steve Howe thought it was too cheesy!), the chorus memorable, the whole structure is a joy to hear.
The next song, "The Smile Has Left...", is another wonderful song, with a bucketload of emotion and superb singing from John W. After that, the songs do become a bit more "prog", with an increased use of instrumental sections.
Standout tracks for me are The Heat Goes On, which is still a concert opener for the band today, and boasts an excellent keyboard solo, Eye to Eye, full of big vocal harmonies, True Colours (great rock chorus), Midnight Sun (Steve Howe solos his head off), and to finish perhaps the most prog song on the album, Open Your Eyes, which ends in a glorious fanfare, and I imagine was a live highlight in the '80's.
Asia have moved on, changed most of their personnel, and remain a good band, both live and in the studio. Their later material is worth checking out.
But I have yet to hear anything to top this for me.
PS: I also love their debut.
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on 17 August 2006
'Alpha' was Asia's follow up to the hugely successful, utterly excellent self-titled debut. One may have thought that the first album would be something of a millstone, but for me, 'Alpha' proves that the band could make a slightly different record to the first and still sound great.

'Alpha' is certainly not as robust or as in your face as the debut. In fact, it is a much more laid back record and actually quite relaxing to listen to. Whereas 'Asia' was a musicians album, 'Alpha' is primarily, a songwriters record.

'Don't Cry' was never one of my favourites and although it was a big hit single, it's value is nothing more than that of commercial viability. In contrast, 'The Smile Has Left Your Eyes' is a tear-jerker that, despite being the second single, is too personal and bleeding-hearted to sell out. 'Never In A Million Years', 'The Heat Goes On' and the closer 'Open Your Eyes' show the band blowing off some cobwebs and returning briefly to the more powerful sound showcased on the debut, but for me the more delicate 'My Own Time', 'The Last To Know' and 'Midnight Sun' are the more effective numbers as they reveal something new with each listen, such is the quality of songwriting and playing on those tracks. 'Eye To Eye' and 'True Colours' remain good album fillers.

'Alpha' drops a point for Mike Stone's fluffy, overblown production, and the fact that Carl Palmer doesn't seem to let rip on the drums as much as he did on 'Asia' is a bit of a disappointment. Also, Wetton's lyrics of betrayal and failed relationships ('The Smile Has Left Your Eyes', 'My Own Time', 'The Last To Know' etc) tend to be too slightly reminiscent of his lyrics from the first album ('Only Time Will Tell', 'Time Again', 'Cutting It Fine' etc), making him sound at times like a male version of Alanis Morrisette or Dido!!!All things considered though, the quality of the music on 'Alpha' oh so nearly matches the debut and that in itself is some achievement. Roger Deans artwork is awesome too. Good stuff.
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on 15 November 1999
Sometimes you come across a really "nice" album that you just want to listen to over and over again. You find yourself humming the tunes to yourself all day without even realising it. I really like this album. I liked it immediately, but it definitely grows on you after the fact. "Don't Cry", "Open Your Eyes" and "Smile Has Left Your Eyes" are all brilliant. They're smooth and easy to listen to. The only reason I didn't give the album 5 stars is because it begins to sound the same after a while and you have to switch to something else to "refresh". It doesn't take long though till you want to put it back on again.
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on 4 November 1999
This is absolutely one of the best rock albums ever. This may sound too strong, but after a couple of listenings you will see why. It is not just the fact that you have one of the best musicians around, gatehered in a supergroup (John Wetton/King Crimson, UK, Steve Howe/Yes, Geoffrey Downes/Buggles, Yes and Carl Palmer/Emerson, Lake & Palmer) but that the album is also superbly produced, and as it was done in 1983, it sounds ahead of it's time even today. Powerfull vocals from one of the best voices in the bussines - J. Wetton, fantastic guitars from S. Howe, Keyboard magic from G. Downes and some of the best drumming in the world by C. Palmer. Although their first album ASIA received higher acclamation and succes, for me personally this one was more stronger vocaly and musicaly. Album that takes you to places in your past, present and future. Very strong but also very romantic. It is still music that nobody is able to copy or reproduce, nor these days, come even close! Simfo/Melodic Rock at it's best. Favorites are: Don't Cry, The Smile has left your eyes, Eye to Eye, Heat Goes on and Open Your Eyes. It's a pity some tracks were left out, like Daylight. The strenght of thid album was never repeated on the follow-ups.
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As a photographer, I would sum up Alpha, when compared to their debut, Asia, as having had a soft focus filter added. It softens the edges, blends the tones and makes it an easier album to like - and for a wider audience to appreciate.

Turning up the volume of Alpha, just increases the level of that slight muffling and we get a bit of a wall of fog. Asia itself, was a proper rock record that simply sounded better the louder it got.

I agree totally with reviewers that say that this is more a songwriter's album, whereas Asia was more about four very accomplished and known musicians making a showman-like sort of entry, showing off their collective skills.

As for the songs, they are probably better crafted and packaged as actual songs than the previous and this album is great for driving along to, many tracks being quite up-tempo. There's more delicacy, here, too, such as the intro to and touches within The Last to Know.

Bits I'm not so keen on are the way singer John Wetton intonates some of his words - on the first track, Don't Cry at times sounds awkward the way he does it. Also, he strains a bit for those top notes; admittedly the songs are better for having a varied vocal ranges, making them more interesting. And, as other reviewers have said, Carl Palmer gets relegated to standard band drummer and not the percussionist we know he is.

I never got beyond Alpha. I don't know if I'm missing anything brilliant, but somehow, possibly after playing Alpha a number of times - I guess that I thought that they'd sound like a mixture of their first and second albums for the rest of their career.
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on 30 April 2010
From the Asia debut comes Heat Of The Moment and Without You, out of the top drawer, but the rest is'nt in the same class.
Alpha's 10 tracks may not all hit the heights of the above, but they are consistently good to make this album one I am happy to play from start to finish, booklet includes lyrics too !
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VINE VOICEon 14 September 2006
I have mixed feelings about 'Alpha'. Asia have been savaged by music critics since they recorded their first note, a band of first-rate musicians who, having paid their dues in prog bands, decided it was time to cash in on a more commercial approach. There's no doubting the quality of the performances or the tunes. This, though, is almost rock's equivalent of a marching band, loaded with pomp and bombast. 'Never In A Million Years', for example, hooks you instantly, strutting along as if it knows it. What gives the game away is a series of lyrics that you know have no basis in feeling, mostly about cold-hearted females. The candy coating tends to lose its appeal halfway through as well as the tunes tend to lessen in quality, though Asia come up trumps at the end with 'Open Your Eyes'. 'Alpha' is possibly worth a higher rating than I've given it but it won't stand up to the repeated listens you can give albums by the bands these chaps used to be in.
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on 3 July 2002
Asia lost as many fans as gained when this was first released or so the story goes. As a prog rock album it stands alone but to Asia fans still lost in the first album it was seen as a poor follow up. Personally I think the album has sufficient quality in "Don't Cry" and "the smile has left your eyes" to rival the greatest of "Asia". "Midnight Sun" is a wonderful haunting track but its less than rock style is perhaps the reason why so many fans drifted away. But thankfully for the hardiest of us the heat still goes on...
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on 21 August 2008
Huge in America, this album simply demonstrates why hearing any one of the tracks on the radio, (fat chance in the UK!), or listening to the whole album at home simply pumps you up and makes you feel good. Coupled with lyrics which fellow human-beings can relate to, Asia have always been on a well-deserved winner with their music. 'Alpha' and the debut album were outstanding, though the opportunity to sample more modern-day tracks hasn't come my way, but to cheer you up, either or both of these albums are a must for the CD rack.
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on 24 November 2011
This album is brilliant and carries on where their debut album left off really.It's brilliant so buy it now.
Any fan of classic rock will not be disappointed.
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