Asia

The Heat of the Moment: The Very Best of Asia

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Why Asia was the recipient of so much venomous criticism from the so-called hip music press is baffling. Okay, the original supergroup's members, vocalist/bassist John Wetton, guitarist Steve Howe, keyboardist Geoff Downes, and drummer Carl Palmer, were veterans of reviled progressive rock acts like Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and perhaps the formation seemed cooked up by dollar-blinded record-company brass and even the musicians themselves. But the fact is that Asia expertly combined stellar instrumental prowess with killer hooks and choruses -- and, yeah, more than a little bombast -- particularly on 1982's self-titled debut. What more could critics who allegedly value virtuoso musicianship and pop craftsmanship want? The Very Best of Asia: Heat of the Moment (1982-1990), while not perfect, is superior to 1990's wretched, poorly conceived compilation Then & Now (which somehow considered 1985's "Voice of America" a "now" selection). It's a fine collection for casual fans of splendid hits like "Heat of the Moment," "Only Time Will Tell," "Don't Cry," and "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes." For diehards, it's essential for the three rare B-sides "Daylight," "Lying to Yourself," and "Ride Easy" and the detailed liner notes. Unfortunately, stellar Asia tracks "Sole Survivor" and "Here Comes the Feeling" are the choppily edited single versions. The powerful "The Heat Goes On" from 1983's Alpha showed the original quartet still had some magic, even if some other material on the album didn't. Krokus' Mandy Meyer replaced Howe on 1985's unjustly ignored Astra, which is best represented by the explosive rocker "Go." The oddly enjoyable Then & Now cut "Days Like These" features Toto guitarist Steve Lukather.

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