ASIA – Phoenix (Special Edition) [European Mix remastered] (2016)
Cherry Red Records is releasing a digitally remastered & expanded two CD edition of ASIA‘s excellent album “Phoenix“, their best since the band first seminal LP’s.
Legendary band Asia released the biggest selling album in the world in 1982. The original line-up of the band reunited in 2006 and recorded the studio album “Phoenix” in 2008 featuring original members Geoff Downes (Yes/The Buggles), Steve Howe (Yes), Carl Palmer (ELP) and John Wetton (King Crimson / UK), originally appeared on Frontiers Records.
The Phoenix album gave rise to the hit “An Extraordinary Life”, which has been played all around the world, including as the theme to America’s Got Talent advertising. This expanded edition collects together the original European version of the album, and the quite diffent US Mix.
Vocalist John Wetton is in fine form, as he takes on both ballads and rockers. His performance on the already classic “An Extraordinary Life” is especially strong and his bass playing, of course, is always exemplary.
To be honest, I did not truly appreciate Carl Palmer’s drum skills in full as it’s heard on this pristine remastering.
Keyboardist Geoff Downes turns in some shiny work throughout, especially on “Sleeping Giant” and the rolling flourishes on “Over and Over.”
There are also some avenues that these gentlemen have not explored together before. For instance, two extended epic pieces in “Sleeping Giant /No Way Back / Reprise” and “Parallel Worlds / Vortex / Deya” are quite nice.
There is also a kind of weird beat during “Wish I’d Known All Along” that actually works for this talented band. It felt like a real departure from their signature style. So I guess it’s not the “same old, same old”.
Everyone here turns in great performances, but Howe really steals the show. Listen to the memorable hooks he plays for the solos on “Shadow of a Doubt” and the melodic rock-drenched “Alibis.”
His softer more lyrical side is displayed on tracks like “Sleeping Giant” and “Deya.” There is a superb guitar refrain into “Parallel Worlds…” during the “Deya” part that is very moving. I wish that he was given more opportunity to “rock out” with the songwriting, he is clearly the featured performer on this recording.
“Phoenix” is easily the strongest album the band recorded after their celebrated first works, on par in quality with Asia’s early albums.
This ‘European Mix’ reissue features both the Japanese / European limited edition bonus tracks and as said, an excellent fresh remaster uncovering new layers of sound housed in a six panel digipack to match the rest of the Asia reunion era catalog.
A Highly Recommended purchase.
CD 1: The European Mixes
01. Never Again (04:55)
02. Nothing’s Forever (05:46)
03. Heroine (04:55)
04. Sleeping Giant / No Way Back / Reprise (08:11)
05. Alibis (05:40)
06. I Will Remember You (05:13)
07. Shadow of a Doubt (04:19)
08. Parallel Worlds / Vortex / Deya (08:13)
09. Wish I’d Known All Along (04:07)
10. Orchard of Mines (05:13)
11. Over and Over (03:34)
12. An Extraordinary Life (04:59)
13. I Will Remember You (Acoustic Remix) (05:14)
14. An Extraordinary Life (Acoustic Remix) (04:16)
John Wetton – lead vocals, bass guitar
Geoff Downes – keyboards
Steve Howe – electric, acoustic and Steel guitars
Carl Palmer – drums, percussion
Hugh McDowell – cello
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