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Asia

Alpha

Review by G. W. Hill
As I sat down to do a retro review of the single of "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes," I realized that I've never reviewed this album. I decided to resolve that issue. I should mention that since I had already written the single review (and previously did the opening song in a single form), I used those track reviews for the sake of consistency. It should be noted that I wrote this review from the original vinyl version of the album. This is more pop oriented than the first album from the group. Still, the second half contains the more proggy stuff here. I like this album a lot more than I remembered liking it when it first came out. I think perhaps that has something to do with lowered expectations. Still, it's a solid set, really.
Track by Track Review
Don't Cry

Geoff Downes’ keyboards start this in bright tones. Steve Howe’s guitar dances across on the introduction. It drops down after a time to the song proper. It’s very much an AOR oriented pop rock tune in that section. The chorus hook is very catchy. This is classic Asia.

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
The rather sad keyboard based section that starts this makes me think of The Buggles. As it grows out from there it becomes more of a pop oriented Asia tune. It is quite catchy and not all that proggy. Still, it is a single. It's a solid song, either way.
Never in a Million Years
More of an energized rocker, this has a cool vibe to it. Yes, it's AOR for certain. It's proggy, though. The chorus in particular brings some prog to the table.
My Own Time (I'll Do What I Want)
This AOR styled rocker is catchy and rather cool. It doesn't show off much Steve Howe except for a bit of a guitar solo mid-track. The closing keyboards make me think of a Beatles-type string arrangement just a bit.
The Heat Goes On
I absolutely love this song. It opens with a killer prog jam. This is definitely classic Asia. Everyone is featured well, and this just plain rocks.
Eye to Eye
While there is a bit of a weird progginess to this cut at times, it works well. In fact, it's one of the proggiest things here. Steve Howe puts in some exceptional guitar lines along the road.
The Last to Know

Although it's still on the AOR side, this is another that's quite prog oriented. There are sections that (in retrospective) feel like modern Yes. There is a killer prog instrumental break, too.

True Colors
This might be my favorite cut here. It's a great example of the prog side of Asia. I mean, this is classic Asia for sure. It has some great shifts and turns. There is a lot of emotion packed into it. It's such a strong tune for sure. The chorus is catchy, too.
Midnight Sun
I guess you could almost consider this to be the powered up side of an AOR prog ballad. It has some effective vocal hooks, and Steve Howe delivers some great guitar soloing later in the tune.
Open Your Eyes
The hooks on this thing are great. It's built around a mellower, more stripped back verse section alternated with a powered up chorus. It's more in line with the pop side of Asia than some of the rest. Still, it's a good tune. There are some vocal bits on this that make me think of the Beach Boys just a little. The dropped back atmospheric segment near the end of the tune calls to mind the Buggles quite a bit, too.
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