Asia

Fantasia: Live in Tokyo (Eagle)

The Loch Ness Monster does exist. It has to, because there is no other explanation for the resurrection of the dinosaur known as Asia. It's been 25 years since John Wetton (King Crimson), Steve Howe (Yes), Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake and Palmer) and Geoff Downes (The Buggles) threw their collective weight behind one of the first and certainly the most bloated super groups of all time. "Heat of the Moment" was the requisite hit and it had a hook, something missing from much of the music of the members' original bands. Asia, in the '70s, were four geeks with enough instrumental prowess for half a dozen bands who were straitjacketed into a pop-friendly suit that they wore uncomfortably to the million-dollar bash.

The reunion tour ended up (where else?) in Asia and besides the three or four genuine hits the band had in their heyday, the guys decided to include progressive rock warhorses such as "In the Court of the Crimson King," "Roundabout" and "Fanfare for the Common Man" in the lengthy set list. Even "Video Killed the Radio Star" gets raked over the still burning coals of self-indulgence and pomposity. But for all of its excesses, the well-played and -recorded music here carries with it a certain mechanical melancholy. Wetton's always been one of the best vocalists for this stuff and his chutzpah somehow manages to bring this overloaded ship into dock, where, hopefully, all involved can disembark and enter the retirement community called Technical Ecstasy.

 
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