Phoenix (2008)

1. Never Again 2. Nothing's Forever 3. Heroine 4. Sleeping Giant/No Way Back/Reprise 5. Alibis 6. I Will Remember You 7. Shadow of a Doubt 8. Parallel Worlds/Vortex/Deya 9. Wish I'd Known All Along 10.Orchard of Mines 11.Over and Over 12.An Extraordinary Life


I doubt if many other bands could get away with something like this. "This" meaning a band that only records two albums together, and then has a much hyped reunion a quarter of a century later. Perhaps because all of these guys had a lengthy career as members of different bands is what makes something like this a bit more notable. Sadly, though, apart from their debut album, nothing that this band ever did really resonated with anyone beyond the devout faithful.

Anyway, this album succeeds more often than not. Part of the problem is that this is the first record from these guys since CDs overtook record albums. So instead of about 38 minutes of music, there's about 64 minutes. Had they trimmed this to 38 minutes, it would have been a lot better. There's a lot of great this record. When I say "great" I'm referring to anything that sounds like the band's classic sound. I would think most Asia fans, myself for sure, doesn't really want any experimentation, or anything sounding too different from "that" first album.

Songs such as Never Again, Heroine. and Alibis definitely sound like the classic lineup reunited. Particularly impressing is the eight minute song Parallel Words/Vortex/Deya that features a little bit of everything that made this band special. Also somewhat pleasant is the ballad-ish Orchard of Mines.

Then again, however, there's a lot of filler. "Filler" is a nice way of saying "songs that suck". Particularly awful is the other eight minute epic Sleeping Giant/No Way Back/Reprise. What were they thinking? This track is essentially eight minutes of the same eight notes played on a synthesizer over and over again. The other major clunker is the second track Nothing's Forever which brings a new meaning to the word "monotonous". Coming directly after the great lead off track Never Again suggests to fans that their coffers of new material don't contain as much as we had hoped.

It should be pointed out that during the absence of the "classic" Asia during the last two decades, John Wetton and Geoff Downes collaborated on several albums (that no one bought, either) under the moniker "Wetton/Downes". Those records sounded a lot more like Asia than the John Payne led Asia. I bring this up here because it seems when these two are handling the song writing credits, for the most part, the music sounds its best. Any other combination of song writers should be listened to with a bit of fear and trepidation.

Overall this record is pleasant in places. It's Achilles Hell is that it's just too dang long.

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