To celebrate the upcoming release of Asia’s brand new studio album Phoenix (out April 15th), I thought I’d share some Asia-related tracks from the mid-80s. I consider the mid to late eighties as the “lost period” for the original members of Asia after the breakup of the band in 1985. Carl Palmer, John Wetton, Geoff Downes and Steve Howe (Howe left in 1983 after the Asia in Asia debacle) all went their separate ways trying desperately to somehow find their way back onto the billboard charts.
Generally they were unsuccessful in duplicating the sales number they had for their debut album back in 1982 but Steve Howe got closer than the rest with his 1986 project…
Howe left Asia after the disastrous Asia in Asia ‘83 concert (with Greg Lake in place of John Wetton) in japan and formed another “supergroup” with Steve Hackett. Geoff Downes came on board as producer which is interesting since the project was guitar-based and Downes is a keyboard player. The group made a dent on the charts with “When the Heart Rules the Mind” and “The Hunter” but soon disbanded due to Howe and Hackett’s inability to work with one another.
Matching the huge success of Asia’s debut album would be a tough feat for just about any band. and when Alpha and Astra didn’t meet the record label’s expectations, the band was dropped. I’m sure it was tough for Wetton during this time. and it showed on his next project. Wetton hooked up with an old friend of his Phil Manzanera. along for the ride was producer Keith Bessey and Yes drummer Alan White. sounding like a lesser-version of Asia, the Wetton/Manzanera album tanked in 1987. It was a good try though. and having a soft spot for all things Asia, I still pull out the CD every once in a while.
Downes released an instrumental/new age-type album in 1987 titled The Light Program . the album sounds a bit dated now but I still listen to it every now and then for Downes’ very melodic compositions. interestingly, the original CD indexed the various themes into 2 minute pieces. so I’m not able to share a complete “song” as intended. I suppose it’s a good way to deter file sharing…
With management’s love for shuffling members around, Palmer got back together with Keith Emerson but instead of Greg Lake, songwriter/musician Robert Berry was brought in (Berry was involved with GTR’s aborted second album, Nerotrend). The group was named “3″. why they didn’t go with “Emerson, Berry & Palmer” is anybody’s guess. with an ever diminishing market for “pop-prog”, their album To the Power of Three sank like a stone upon release in 1988.
bonus: Greg Lake
Lake came into Asia back in ‘83 as a favor to Carl Palmer when the group decided to give John Wetton the boot. unfortunately, Lake didn’t have the same vocal range as Wetton and it was very apparent to the millions that watched the Asia in Asia telecast on cable. Lake as well as the band knew it wasn’t a good fit and Lake went back to fronting ELP. the problem was that Carl Palmer was still contractually obligated to Asia so Lake and Keith Emerson had to find a replacement drummer to fill the “P” in ELP. Luckily, Cozy Powell was available and they quickly released