"Heat of the Moment," Asia's original stab at melding stodgy progressive rock with pop, was Yes for those who couldn't stomach 11 minutes of Jon Anderson's sub-Buddhist mishmash. It was John Wetton, who at least had Robert Fripp to vouch for him, and Steve Howe satisfying all the guitar wankers who couldn't quite relate to Zappa. Throw in techno-nerd Geoff Downs from the Buggles ("Video Killed the Radio Star"), and you had some kind of mutant, major-label dream team. A few catchy hooks, some savvy marketing and folks who should have known better made rock stars out of fading dinosaurs.

More than 20 (!) years later and Geoff Downs, of all people, collects a few souls who were probably in Asia cover bands and decides to make a concept record concerning our post-9-11 world. We don't get Wetton's throaty roar nor Howe's classically trained, oppressive pyrotechnics. Now it's just competent, throwback, crusty Rush lite: midtempo, synthesizer-enhanced drones with "deep" lyrics about how nobody talks anymore and everyone's scared of Big Brother. Jesus, even Yes did better than this.

Asia should have gone away years ago, but there are bills to be paid and high school memories to be exploited. Still, this is a cash cow in desperate need of slaughter.


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