Geoffrey Downes / John Wetton

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The songwriting core of '80s supergroup Asia was vocalist/bassist John Wetton and keyboardist Geoffrey Downes. Guitarist Steve Howe and drummer Carl Palmer contributed to the awesome whole, but virtually every song on 1982's number-one behemoth Asia and 1983's Alpha were officially credited to Wetton and Downes. After the original lineup splintered following those two albums, Downes continued to lead various incarnations of the group with occasional, gradually dwindling involvement from the others. Wetton and Downes resumed writing together from time to time, and finally pooled their talents to record 2005's Icon, which is what they also named this duo project itself. Icon was released in Europe in 2005 and then in the United States in 2006 with three bonus tracks added. It should surprise no one that Icon sounds a good bit like Asia, with Wetton's rich voice and Downes' keyboards both serving up the central melodies and hooks. Supporting Wetton and Downes are guitarist John Mitchell, cellist Hugh McDowell, drummer Steve Christey, guest vocalist Annie Haslam, and flutist Ian McDonald, like Wetton a former King Crimson member as well as a Foreigner alumnus. Musically speaking, Downes' keyboards and McDowell's cello tend to dominate the album. Much of Icon has a mid-tempo feel, without the explosive energy of Asia's familiar classics, but this fact also gives the music its own identity. The best songs are ""Overture: Paradox,"" ""Let Me Go,"" ""I Stand Alone,"" ""Meet Me at Midnight,"" ""Far Away,"" ""Sleep Angel,"" ""Spread Your Wings,"" and ""In the End."" As for the Asia re-recordings, ""The Smile Has Left Your Eyes '05"" differs in terms of instrumentation, but ""Heat of the Moment '05"" is very close to the original arrangement. On the heels of this album and subsequent European tour, Wetton, Downes, Howe, and Palmer reunited in the summer of 2006 and began touring in celebration of Asia's 25th anniversary.

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