Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Asia - Fantasia: Live in Tokyo (2007)



"LIVE IN CONCERT" WEEK (FEBRUARY 7-13, 2011)

Recorded in Tokyo, Japan, March 8, 2007.

I was never a big progressive rock fan, but I was an immediate Asia fan when I heard their debut album in 1982. No, I didn't start playing Dungeons & Dragons, making chainmail, or go out and buy a cape and monocle, but I did listen to their music a lot while I was in high school. Band members started leaving the group after their second album and I lost interest. The band eventually became a convenient punchline (see the movie, The 40 Year Old Virgin). But the original members got back together in 2006 and toured, releasing this Tokyo concert as a DVD (which I haven't seen) and this 2 disc CD. Hearing that the original members were together again rekindled my interest in the band, so I picked this up and found that the musicians hadn't lost a step (except for Wetton's voice, which shows its age at times). Even if the band's setlist isn't great, for a live CD, the sound quality is stellar (although sometimes the mix is uneven and muddy).

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart

Tracks: 18 tracks, 9 on each disc. All nine songs form the band's 1982 debut album are here as are 3 from their 1983 follow-up, Alpha. The band also plays songs from the band member's past bands: Yes, King Crimson, Buggles, and Emerson, Lake, & Palmer. Add one B-side, Ride Easy, and you've got an interesting set. Most of the band's original songs sound almost exactly like their studio versions with the exception of two songs, The Smile Has Left Your Eyes and Don't Cry, which are done in stripped-down versions. Also, The Heat Goes On gets the concert's obligatory extended drum solo. Palmer is an excellent drummer, but I've never been a fan of the drum solo, although I think that puts me in the minority. The band (especially Geoff Downes) does a great job with Roundabout, originally recorded by Yes. Howe's solo piece, Intersection Blues, is a fun diversion as is Video Killed The Radio Star, which is almost as far away from an Asia song as you could get. I always thought ELP's butchering of Copland's Fanfare For The Common Man was ridiculously cheesy and, unfortunately, Asia has decided to play it just as ELP did. Selecting King Crimson's In The Court Of The Crimson King is an interesting choice because none of the members of Asia performed on the original recording, although Wetton was briefly in the band after the song was recorded. If I had been at this concert, I would have gone to the bathroom then bought a beer while they were playing that song. Also, I would have preferred that the band play Heat Of The Moment straight up, but I'll give them some leeway with that one. Two of my favorite Asia songs are Wildest Dreams and Here Comes The Feeling; the band plays both well here.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: After purchasing this CD set in early 2008, I was listening to it in my truck one day when I picked up my youngest son from school. He heard Roundabout and just absolutely loved it from the first listen. When we got to the house, he immediately put it on his iPod. Interesting choice for a 10-year-old.

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