Alpha (1983)

1. Don't Cry 2. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes 3. Never In a Million Years 4. My Own Time (I'll Do What I Want) 5. The Heat Goes On 6. Eye to Eye 7. True Colors 8. The Last To Know 9. Midnight Sun 10.Open Your Eyes


Well,the critics hated last year's debut album, even though most fans warmed up to it quite well. It was pretty much the consensus of both critics and fans that when thi follow up album was released the following year, it had dropped down in quality several notches. So fans thought it was "ok" whereas critics were burning the band in effigy. For whatever reason, I still really liked the band at this point, and I found most of this album to be very rewarding, even if it did slip a bit in terms of enjoyment.

It was rumored that there was already tension amongst the guys. I remember hearing that Wetton was wanting to steer the band more towards commercial likability, whereas Howe was wanting the band to be more "artistic". Listening to the record, it appears that Wetton won the argument. Also surprisingly absent are any songs that were written by Howe. All compositions were penned by Wetton, and/or Wetton and Downes. This essentially means the album is much more straight-forward with not as much progressiveness as are many of the cuts from the debut. It's a bit ironic since it was the artsy songs from the first album that didn't receive as much attention, nor or as known as the more radio friendly ones. Having said that, you might then think that this album would exceed overall expectations - at least in terms of sales. For whatever the case, that didn't happen, and whereas this album did chart pretty well and got some airplay, it really didn't hold a candle to 1982's Asia.

Strong points are the opener Don't Cry as well as the highly energetic The Heat Goes On that close out side one. These two songs seem to be the only staples from this record that, along with the entire first album, would still make it into the set lists thirty years later. Other pleasant pop ditties include Never in a Million Years (which I always thought would have been a killer single) as well as Midnight Sun and The Last to Know. Also highly underrated is the album closer Open Your Eyes which really sounds most like (dare I use the word) "classic" Asia.

Sadly, this album proved that the super group would only be super for a very short time, both in personnel, and in popularity. They would perform the first ever concert on MTV shortly after this album came out, yet by then, Wetton had already departed and was replaced by ELP's Greg Lake. Then, after the concert, Wetton was back in, and Howe would exit the group - not to return for more than 20 years. Oh well. It was a fun couple of years for the people that liked such things.

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