Asia: The Reunion Albums 2007-2012 (Review)

Review of Asia: The Reunion Albums 2007-2012, a deluxe 5CD box set featuring the reunion albums from the classic Asia line-up.

by Geoff Bailie

For fans and band alike, it was a case of “unfinished business” when the original Asia line-up reunited in 2006, 25 years after their debut album took the world by storm. The immediate aftermath of their second album, Alpha, was a run of line-up changes that shattered the quartet, albeit Asia as an entity continued in various guises. The harmony of the 2006 reunion and tour was a delight for fans and while new music wasn’t part of the plan, there followed three studio albums before the amicable (this time) departure of Steve Howe, to allow him to balance Yes and solo requirements.

This fantastic box set is a collection of all that went down during that period. Forgetting about the music for one moment, we get a new Roger Dean cover, each of the 4 albums packaged in a mini card sleeve and a booklet of credits and notes.

Fantasia: Live In Tokyo sets the scene, coming from the first wave of touring. Wikipedia tells me there are 35 Asia Live albums available, and I think this one is probably the best. The band kept the setlist simple: the Asia album, a few tracks from Alpha and a track from each member’s legacy band, including versions of Roundabout, Fanfare, Video Killed the Radio Star and, curiously, In The Court of the Crimson King, a song recorded before John Wetton joined the band, but possibly the best of the 4 covers. It all set the scene for a return to the studio…

Having already reunited for 2 Icon albums, the Downes Wetton partnership had shown it had survived with aplomb. The question about a future Asia studio album would be how or whether Steve Howe would fit into such a situation. The Phoenix tracks showed that the years had taken nothing from the power of the writing and playing in the band. The album features two of the Yes-like long prog tracks, and Steve Howe added 2 great songs to the album. From the introductory Never Again, to the closing anthem, An Extraordinary Life, it remains an impressive album.

Omega, studio album number 11 for the band, was a solid follow-up, cast in a similar mold. It includes the reappearance of the Wetton/ Howe songwriting partnership (responsible for One Step Closer, Without You and Here Comes The Feeling on the debut album) on two of the album’s best tracks, Through My Veins and Light The Way. A resprayed Icon track, Finger on the Trigger opens things up, with the rest of the album being a mix of ballads and rockers, all of great quality.

John Wetton’s death in 2017 means that 2012’s XXX is the final studio album from the original four, recorded in the same studio as its two predecessors. The title reflects the 30th anniversary of the debut album, and once again, the Wetton/ Downes team dominate with Steve Howe contributing to No Religion and Judas. The album’s single Face on the Bridge is a good song but perhaps a little too similar in style to some of its more famous siblings, but once again, this is a good Asia album, sitting comfortably in the established pattern of the last two albums. What is slightly disappointing, given the era spanning nature of the box set, is that the version of XXX is missing Reno (Silver and Gold), a strong bonus track on the special edition, along with the two other bonus tracks/ alternate mixes. The same can be said about the other studio albums, with Drop A Stone from XXX similarly absent as are the Phoenix acoustic versions.

That minor criticism aside, this is a great one for both collectors and a great overview for fans who may have missed out on this era. Each of the musicians is in incredible form, and sadly this lineup won’t be seen again, but this set serves to honor the extremely strong second lap of this classic lineup!

Order your copy here: https://asiaband.lnk.to/reunionalbumsFA

 

CD1 – FANTASIA, LIVE IN TOKYO 2007 (DISC 1)

1. Time Again
2. Wildest Dreams
3. One Step Closer
4. Roundabout
5. Without You
6. Cutting It Fine
7. Intersection Blues
8. Fanfare For The Common Man /
9. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes

CD2 – FANTASIA, LIVE IN TOKYO 2007 (DISC 2)

1. Don’t Cry
2. In The Court Of The Crimson King
3. Here Comes The Feeling
4. Video Killed The Radio Star
5. The Heat Goes On
6. Only Time Will Tell
7. Sole Survivor
8. Ride Easy
9. Heat Of The Moment

CD3 – PHOENIX

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-Déyà
9. Wish I’d Known All Along
10. Orchard Of Mines
11. Over And Over
12. An Extraordinary Life

CD4 – OMEGA

1. Finger On The Trigger
2. Through My Veins
3. Holy War
4. Ever Yours
5. Listen, Children
6. End Of The World
7. Light The Way
8. Emily
9. I’m Still The Same
10. There Was A Time
11. I Believe
12. Don’t Wanna Lose You Now

CD5 – XXX

1. Tomorrow The World
2. Bury Me In Willow
3. No Religion
4. Faithful
5. I Know How You Feel
6. Face On The Bridge
7. Al Gatto Nero
8. Judas
9. Reno (Silver And Gold)
10. Ghost Of A Chance

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