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For Asia fans, Quadra is frustrating. Drummer Carl Palmer unearthed three tapes of concerts recorded during the band's commercial peaks -- 1982, 1983, and 1990 -- and packaged them together in a handsome box set, complete with many glossy photos, a lovely cover, and a brand-new interview with him. Unfortunately, the fancy packaging can't hide the fact that these are hardly the high-fidelity, slick recordings Asia fans are used to. The first disc, from 1982, starts halfway through the first song, and the sound quality, while decent, is of an above-average audience recording at best. Discs Two and Three, which comprise a complete 1983 concert, sound, if anything, worse, and will be considered unlistenable by some fans, though there are some interesting performances here and there. Disc Four, recorded in 1990 with guitarist Pat Thrall replacing Steve Howe (who had rejoined Yes), sounds the best of the set, though it is still far from a polished, full-range concert recording (audience members are clearly audible in between songs). The discs have many interesting performances, such as Howe reprising his Yes showcase "Clap," and Geoffrey Downes taking a keyboard solo that incorporates his Buggles hit "Video Killed the Radio Star." Nonetheless, Palmer admits in the set's interviews that the band never really became as impressive a live act as the bands the members came from, and the discs show a band sometimes groping for an identity onstage. It still seems a shame that a truly definitive recording of Asia in concert has never fully emerged. This definitely isn't it. Hardcore Asia fans will get the most from Quadra, and patient, careful listening will reveal some gems, but most listeners will find this is much too long, and of such less-than-perfect sound quality that they will be better off with the original studio recordings.

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