John Wetton

Anthology

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Anthology is the first John Wetton compilation to draw exclusively from his solo albums. Why hadn't anybody thought of doing this before? Well, common sense for one thing. Not that Wetton's solo albums are bad, but they tend to be maudlin; jam 18 of these babies together on a single disc and you can suck the air out of a pretty big room. Even Wetton himself doesn't lean so heavily on his own handiwork, interspersing his live shows with material from Asia, King Crimson, and UK. For the irredeemable optimist, Anthology poses less of a problem; the sound quality is very good and there are some strategically placed reprieves from sadness along the way ("Jane," "Round in Circles," "I'll Be There"). The choices are all right, although you could argue that some of Wetton's more likeable tracks ("Turn on the Radio," "One World") are missing. Wetton's live releases (which number more than a few) are also absent; licensing of Live: Chasing the Dragon doesn't appear to have been a problem, so why live versions of "Heat of the Moment" and "Rendezvous 6:02" weren't included is a mystery. Lest it seem that Anthology lacks purpose, the disc does function as a generous overview of Wetton's solo music (minus Sinister). There are certainly fans of Asia and King Crimson who may wish to use Anthology as an entry into Wetton's catalog, especially anyone for whom Alpha and Astra had resonance. Yet, by choosing tracks that stress the similarity between albums rather than their differences (and there are differences), this isn't the helpful compass it might have been. The release is also hampered by a few packaging gaffes, from placing the track information under the disc tray (the last place anyone wants to see small type), to liner notes that could have aspired to more, to a cover sticker that calls attention to the contributions of Phil Manzanera and Alan White (as if that's going to clinch anyone's decision to buy anything).

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