Asia are an English progressive rock band formed in London in 1981. The most commercially successful line-up was its original, which was a supergroup of four members of different progressive rock bands of the 1970s: lead vocalist and bassist John Wetton of King Crimson and U.K., guitarist Steve Howe of Yes, keyboardist Geoff Downes of Yes and the Buggles, and drummer Carl Palmer of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Their debut album, Asia, released in 1982, remains their best selling album and went to number one in several countries.
The band underwent multiple lineup changes before the original four members reunited in 2006. As a result, a band called Asia Featuring John Payne exists as a continuation of John Payne’s career as Asia’s frontman from 1991 until Wetton’s return in 2006. In 2013, the original line-up was broken once again when Howe retired from the band and was replaced by guitarist Sam Coulson. After a few years of inactivity, Billy Sherwood (of Yes and World Trade) replaced an ailing Wetton in Asia for a summer 2017 tour with Journey. Following Wetton’s death the same year, the band went on hiatus again, re-emerging in 2019 with Sherwood permanently replacing Wetton on bass and with Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal replacing both Wetton on vocals and Coulson on guitar.
Asia is the self-titled debut studio album by English rock band Asia, released in 1982. According to both Billboard and Cashbox, it was the #1 album in the United States for the year 1982. It contains their biggest hit “Heat of the Moment”, which reached #4 in the US on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Asia’s logo and cover artwork were created by Roger Dean, known for his work with Yes (of which guitarist Steve Howe and keyboard player Geoff Downes had previously been members) and Uriah Heep (of which bassist/vocalist John Wetton had previously been a member) which depicts Leviathan gazing into a crystal orb.
Since its release, Asia has received highly mixed reception, largely due to a more commercial and pop-oriented sound as opposed to progressive rock, given the past of the group’s members. Robert Christgau blasted the album, and particularly its lyrics. He stated that it had been a rare occasion that “a big new group is bad enough to sink your teeth into any more” and called the album “pompous – schlock in the grand manner”. On the other side, in a Billboard review, it was favourably noted that “the caliber of the [band’s] playing is superb and the music sounds fresh and perfect fare for AOR”.
Upon its release in March 1982, Asia reached #1 in the US and spent nine weeks at the top of the Billboard album chart. Asia was certified 4x-platinum in the US by the RIAA on 10 February 1995.
In the band’s native UK, Asia did not perform as well as in the US, peaking only at #11 and spent a total of 38 weeks in the UK Albums Chart. The record received a gold status in Britain on 18 October 1982. “Heat of the Moment” climbed to No. 46.
Asia’s total worldwide sales are estimated at over ten million copies. (by wikipedia)
This marriage of four players with impressive pedigrees proved to be the success story of 1982 when Asia’s debut lodged itself at the top of the U.S. album charts for two months. The album spawned a massive number four single in “Heat of the Moment,” a follow-up Top 20 hit in the sweeping “Only Time Will Tell,” and a handful of other tracks that received heavy radio play despite going against the grain of the new wave styling of the day.
Produced by Mike Stone, Asia’s strengths were the powerful vocals of John Wetton, the nimble, classically tinged guitar work of Steve Howe, Geoffrey Downes’ majestic keyboard playing, and anchoring the band, Carl Palmer’s propulsive drumming. The lyrics are overwrought at moments, but there’s no denying the epic grandeur of the music, which provided some much-needed muscle to radio at the time, and did so with style. (by Tom Demalon)
Geoff Downes (keyboards, vocals)
Steve Howe (guitar, vocals)
Carl Palmer (drums, percussion)
John Wetton (vocals, bass)
01. Heat Of The Moment (Wetton/Downes) 3.55
02. Only Time Will Tell (Wetton/Downes) 4.48
03. Sole Survivor (Wetton/Downes) 4.52
04. One Step Closer (Wetton/Howe) 4.18
05. Time Again (Downes/Howe/Palmer/Wetton) 4.49
06. Wildest Dreams (Wetton/Downes) 5.11
07. Without You (Wetton/Howe) 5.08
08. Cutting It Fine (Wetton/Downes/Howe) 5.41
09. Here Comes The Feeling (Wetton/Howe) 5.41