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4.2 out of 5 stars37
4.2 out of 5 stars
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It's been six years now since the original Asia line-up reformed for one reunion tour. Of course, they haven't stopped since, and have put out two new studio albums in the shape of "Phoenix" in 2008 and "Omega". They've also managed a couple of live albums and a few more trips around the world. Which is pretty good going, as Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, Carl Palmer & John Wetton have a combined age of about a thousand, and are also keeping busy with other bands and solo projects. So, fair play.

Which would all mean sweet Fanny Adams if the music they were putting out wasn't up to much. But not only is it good, it's getting better. And this is probably the best album they've released since their debut came out thirty years ago. Of course, that's a big anniversary, so as well as this new album, there's a thirtieth anniversary edition of their debut album, a couple of DVDs, and another world tour that takes in the UK, Europe, Japan and America. This, dodgily titled album (which will hopefully see some traffic increase here), sees the band collaborating with well known producer Mike Paxman, and is out as a , deep breath, CD, collector's edition CD/DVD (featuring new music videos and behind the scenes footage), and on a limited edition vinyl.

The band are very confident about the new release. John Wetton says, "we're very pleased with, and confident about, XXX. It encapsulates, lyrically and instrumentally, the essence of the band today. However, it is the very same four people that gave you the original, iconic album 30 years ago. If you loved it then, you will love it now." And guitarist Steve Howe chips in with "we wanted to recapture the energy of the first album, ASIA has always been about great songs, fantastic musicianship and I am sure fans of the first album, will fall in love with XXX."

There's a world weariness about the opening track 'Tomorrow The World', before it kicks into full action, and goes on to incorporate everything that was pomptastic and melodic about their classic sound. John Wetton has had a few vocal problems over the last few years, but in the studio, they've worked some magic, and he sounds as good as he ever did. The rest of the band are masters at what they do, with Steve Howe knowing how to pull back from overpowering you with guitar, and Carl Palmer. Well, Carl Palmer gets on with being Carl Palmer. You know it's him. The songs sound as though you've been listening to them all your life, which is a neat trick to pull off this far down the line. It's a grand mixture of prog, AOR and classic rock, and even when they turn to balladry, as on 'Ghost Of A Chance', they more than pull it off.

You'll be hard pushed to hear a better slab of classic rock this year.
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on 10 July 2012
If judging a 5-star review as the original album, then this is certainly a 4-star album. 11 tracks of which only 3 I don't care for, similar to Omega. I'd rank this album alongside that one, keeping up the decent standard of the post-Payne era revival. Say what you like about the argument as to whether Asia is better with Payne or Wetton, my preference is clearly for Wetton. The songs are stronger, catchier and Wetton's voice blows Payne's out of the water.

Tomorrow The World begins quietly, a departure from the usual Wetton-era albums, but its not unpleasant. Then suddenly bursts into rocky life and is a great start to the album. Reminiscent of Finger on the Trigger as far as the general beat goes. I also like one of the lines that uses a Shakespeare-style twist to a phrase.
Bury Me In Willow is one of those songs that can only be described as beautiful. Wonderfully crafted and composed. Not a really outstanding track to me as one or two of the others but beautiful nonetheless. And a perfect foil for what comes next.
What can you say about No Religion? OMG. Steve Howe's power chords. A head-nodding foot-tapping number so reminiscent of the 80s. I love it. Alright, alright, so part of it sounds like Blue Oyster Cult. So what? This knocks Don't Fear the Reaper out of the way.
Faithful. Um. Too similar to the bland pap of the middle part of Phoenix. Don't like it.
I Know How You Feel. Not this version, no. I think the keyboards are a little too irritating. It doesn't do it for me anyway.
Face On The Bridge. One of those slow burners. Wasn't sure about it when I first heard it but now, yes its a good one. Runs smoothly. I did wonder why he mentioned the King of Bohemia but then when I watched the DvD that comes with this version I got it. I've been on the Charles Bridge too, and it is beautiful.
Al Gatto Nero. Spooky, this. We have a cat called Nero. Al Gatto = The Cat. No! Surely not! Of course it means The Black Cat (Nero isn't black, by the way). Love the song. Oh what a gutsy start. The only weak bit is the chorus but I can live with that.
Judas. Not bad. Fairly good. Good guitars. It doesn't quite reach out and grab me hard like No Religion or Al Gatto Nero but a nice album track nontheless.
Reno. Rubbish. Bonus track? Bin it. Payne standard.
Ghost of A Chance. Haunting. Wasn't too sure at first but its grown on me. Yes, one to keep on the old iPod.
I Know How You Feel (Midnight Mix). Now i do like this version. Its atmospheric and comes without that Supertramp irritating falsetto keyboard sound. Good song.

The only thing I'd moan about is that it didn't end with a really great track like Alpha or Asia did. I'd like to see the guys insist with Frontier Records in future they do. And also like all Asia albums its a little too polished and over produced. Asia are far better live. I'm going to see them this coming December and cannot wait.
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on 13 December 2015
This is probably Asia's best album, full of great musicianship and well-crafted songs. "Face on the Bridge" is probably the highlight but there are some hugely enjoyable offerings here, including the mesmeric "Ghost of a Chance". This is a mature set that's deeply satisfying - the bonus songs in this edition aren't any weaker, though the DVD comprises a couple of music videos and interviews - not worth paying extra for. If you are an Asia fan then this should be in your collection and if you haven't heard them for a while, then check this out.
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on 24 May 2013
Asia can do so much better than this. I can't engage with the album - there is not much substance and only a couple of half decent tracks. "Omega" was a great album - perhaps the band need a break, to come up with some better ideas!
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on 15 November 2015
This will say it all.... I have six albums from this Band... and still going strong for the next one
Need I say any more than that " wicked fab " plus the album cover art work is so good as well Eye catching
review image
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on 8 November 2014
Got this after seeing Asia in concert recently - didn't know they were still going! Keep putting it on, some really catchy stuff on there. Not brilliant, but pretty good.
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on 28 July 2014
are asia still great without steve howe? they most certainly are. what a great sounding record what a great guitarist.
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on 16 September 2012
Three Albums released by the reformed original line up. Didnt ever expect to see the real Asia ever reform or to release 3 really strong Abums together.
XXX is a classy mix of classic Asia melodic stadium rock. The deluxe edition is the one to get as it includes 2 versions of I Know How You Feel, the funkier version on the 9 track release, featuring a wonderful catchy keyboard sound and lovely vocals by John Wetton. the midnight mix is just wonderful, so haunting and beautiful. other highlights are Bury Me In Willow which is a lovely power ballad. the rocking Tomorow The World is very catchy and a really good way to kick of the Album. Ghost of A Chance is also a big highlight starts very softly and ends in rousing style.
All in all a really strong follow up to Omega but doesent quite top Omega for excellence as that album has at least 10 really good songs.
Lets hope Asia can stay together to release one more Album as good as these last 3. Buy all 3 and enjoy top musicians at the top of their game.
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VINE VOICEon 15 August 2012
If you enjoyed 'Heat of the moment' and are expecting to hear more of the same then you'll probably be disappointed. This is quite a good album with a couple of familiar tracks but to be honest I found most of the tracks a bit insipid considering the calibre of musicians who make up the band.
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on 17 September 2012
I bought Asia's debut album as a nerdy teenage progger almost 30 years ago. This is the first of their works I have purchased since then and it's refreshing to see/hear that absiolutely nothing has changed! Despite the massive technological advances in music production since their 1982 debut, XXX could plausibly pass as a follow-up to Asia or Astra. And here lieth the issue for me. The individual band members had arguably peaked creatively at some point in the late 1970s and have been on the decline (albeit at glacial pace) since then. XXX therefore manages to simultaneously embody all that is laudable and lamentable about the genre. It is an enjoyable and listenable-to album but not exactly ground breaking stuff.
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