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Ghost Canyon

Title - 'Phoenix: Special Edition'
Artist - ASIA

For those not in the know, Asia is a supergroup formed in 1981 with members of Yes, King Crimson, Emerson Lake and Palmer and Uriah Heep. Classic members Geoff Downes, John Wetton, Steve Howe and Carl Palmer may not be together at this time, as a whole, for the membership has seen many changes over the years (with celebrated musicians popping in and out of the band), but their music still lives on.

Although they have not achieved the critical acclaim one would expect of their respectable rock, which is a sad, sad fact within the business, for their latest release they have dipped back into their glorious heyday. For with the release of Phoenix: Special Edition, the 2CD re-issue collects together the original European version of the album, the two bonus tracks AND the US only remix into the same place for the first ever time!

The original line-up of the band had reunited in 2006 and recorded the first studio album of its reunion in 2008 with this aforementioned Phoenix. Featuring the renowned quartet of superstars: Geoff Downes (YES / The Buggles), Steve Howe (YES), Carl Palmer (ELP), and John Wetton (King Crimson / UK), 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".

Disc: 1 - 1. Never Again 2. Nothing's Forever 3. Heroine 4. Sleeping Giant / No Way Back / Reprise 5. Alibis 6. I Will Remember You 7. Shadow of a Doubt 8. Parallel Worlds / Vortex / Deya 9. Wish I'd Known All Along 10. Orchard of Mines 11. Over and Over 12. An Extraordinary Life 13. I Will Remember You (Acoustic Remix) 14. An Extraordinary Life (Acoustic Remix)

Disc: 2 - 1. Never Again 2. Nothing's Forever 3. Heroine 4. Sleeping Giant / No Way Back / Reprise 5. Alibis 6. I Will Remember You 7. Shadow of a Doubt 8. Parallel Worlds / Vortex / Deya 9. Wish I'd Known All Along 10. Orchard of Mines 11. Over and Over 12. An Extraordinary Life

When I first put this remastered CD in my CD player, I was blown away by the first song, 'Never Again' and thought to myself that this is Asia back to their glory days; emotional, catchy and sing-along friendly progressive rock. Chock full with loads of soothing keyboards and melodic guitar parts, all topped off by John Wetton's warm and and melodic voice.

But when I listened more to the CD, I found out that it was only a few songs that held the same quality. In truth, only two of these held such a nostalgic ebb for me, those being the aforementioned 'Never Again' and 'Shadow of a Doubt'. They are the only two, to my mind, that can really be compared with old classics like 'Only Time Will Tell' and 'Heat Of The Moment'.

Indeed, these two tracks are really Asia at their best. The rest of the songs are more or less good; too many songs remind me of John Wetton's solo work though, which I found to be quite mundane (sorry JW). Just semi-fine examples of an old-man's current feel on some warmed up Adult Oriented Rock tracks, to be brutally honest.

That said, some of the songs here on Phoenix do manage to fall in the middle, such as Steve Howe's composed 'Wish I'd Known All Along' and the hit single, 'An Extraordinary Life'. Catchy and singalong friendly, for sure, but with Wetton's health problems from 2007 shining through also, well, they recorded it between / during touring. So, perhaps maybe their minds were more on touring then on creating new stuff.

In closing, the wondrously epic triple play of 'Parallel Worlds / Vortex / Deya' is, most definitely, a stand out triumph on the album, the three-part song a shining example of the bands evolution. Combining the musical instrumentation wonderment of all four of them, their instrumental virtuosity shines through magnificently.

www.OriginalAsia.com





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