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Archive for the ‘Asia’ Category

dotaSOUNDTRACK: ASIA-Asia (1982).

asiaI’ll finish off this run through Yes with one final offshoot project–Asia.  Geoff Downes (who had only been on Drama) and Steve Howe joined forces for this pop outfit with a hint of prog.  Indeed, this is an album that is just chock full of poppiness–despite all of the trappings of prog rock–synths, connections to Yes, a cover by Roger Dean and Carl Palmer from Emerson Lake & Palmer on the drums.

This album was huge in 1982 & 1983.  They had so many hits from it (okay well, only 3 singles, but surely everyone knows this entire album, right?).

“Heat of the Moment” opens with nice big ringing guitars.  And while the drums aren’t fancy, they are quite distinctive.  The synth isn’t too dated sounding, and the middle part with the guitar slide still sounds cool.  And of course, the chorus is practically irresistible.  “Only Time Will Tell” has a totally recognizable keyboard riff.  While the riff itself hasn’t been copied, the sound has and yet at the time, Asia made it seem fresh.  This song is so simple as it starts with just keys and drums and John Wetton’s voice.  There’s great harmonies in the chorus and dramatic keyboard splashes.  And once again, Carl Palmer’s drums are big and loud yet understated.

“Sole Survivor” opens with some darker chords nut some interesting noodling going on, too. (I always thought t was interesting that Blue Oyster Cult released a song called “Sole Survivor” the year before).  Despite the darkness of the lyrics and the music the chorus is also very catchy (I also like how nearly every verse ends with a different keyboard sound or riff).  This song also has an interesting break where things get quiet and feel very wasteland like.

“One Step Closer” has a some interesting riffs and another catchy chorus.  This is probably my least favorite track on the disc even if it’s got a good chorus.  “Time Again” has a cool dramatic opening and then a nice speedy bassline to start off with.  I like the way the chorus leads to some quieter moments of unusual guitar and keyboard sounds.

Side two has some slightly longer, sightly less poppy songs. And yet to me all the songs on this side are really good as well.  “Wildest Dreams” is a song that is a bit over the top (as all prog should be).  I remember loving the dramatic “We fight” section.  It seems a but silly but it was still fun to sing along to.

“Without You” is a slower darker song but with another big chorus.  It also has the most prog rock sounding keyboard solos of the 1980s.  There’s some time changes and even a big bell!  “Cutting It Fine” opens with some mellow guitar and then a really interesting guitar sequence.   It moves along quickly and dramatically and then stops for a quiet piano solo section (with a build up of strings, martial drums and horns–the drama seems like it is leading to something big but it just kind of fades out, which is a bummer.

“Here Comes the Feeling” ends the disc in more dramatic fashion.   I love the way the bridge builds and builds (with the “now i can…” section that leads to the long held sung notes.).   The solo section has some very yes-like moments from Howe and over all ends the disc with some wonderful prog moments.

As with apparently every progressive rock band of the era, this one was full of lineup changes too (don’t even get me started on King Crimson).  The four stayed together for the next album, Alpha, but Steve Howe left after that and then various other incarnations have toured in one form or another to this day (in fact they’ve released about 20 albums over the years.  Who knew?).

[READ: May 29, 2015] Death of the Artist

I grabbed this book from work because it looked interesting.  And it was.  I was more than a little confused as to how much is true.  And that was clearly the point.  Fransman totally pulled the wool over my eyes and I love her for that.

The premise of this book is that five artists are getting together for a weekend of debauchery.  They were friends in art school in Leeds when they were in their 20s.  Now, ten years later, they are reuniting in hopes of sparking creativity again.  Of the five only one is still doing anything “creative,” and they are all looking to reignite that spark.

And this book is the result of their week.

All five artists draw (or something) a story inspired by that weekend.  And in what turns out to be a pretty cool twist, Fransman has shaped the stories into a narrative. (more…)

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yitaSOUNDTRACK: WXPN (88.5 Philadelphia) xpnand wxpn.org online-Prog rock Marathon (2012-??).

Every January, Dan Reed plays a prog rock marathon on WXPN.  This year I was able to enjoy portions of it.  I rather wish the playlist was still available (you can search, but only by artist), because I’d love to rave about the tracks they played (like the live “Supper’s Ready.”)

I was delighted by the great mix of songs they played and (as I learned from reading this book) I was surprised by how many prog artists I didn’t even know.

In 2014 I’ll be listening again and maybe this time I’ll copy the playlist to document what I’ve missed.

[READ: July 7, 2013] Yes is the Answer

This book was sitting on a cart outside of my cube.  I was intrigued by the title (it didn’t have that trippy cover, so I didn’t know what it was).  But “Yes is the Answer” was calling me.  Especially when I looked at the cover and saw that the cover had an excerpt from a William Vollmann story in which the protagonist plays In the Court of the Crimson King (track 5) for Reepah and watches her face as they band went Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!.

Quoting Vollmann (from The Rifles), playing King Crimson?  What could this book be?   Then I saw the subtitle and I knew I had to read it all.

I’m not going to review these essays because that would be like making a radio edit of a side long track, but I’ll mention the band the author focuses on and any other relevant details. (more…)

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