4008-2 Alpha
Produced by Mike Stone
Released on August 1983
UK CHART POSITION #5 . . . US CHART POSITION #6
. . . PLATINUM RECORD
Find it at GEMM
4008-2 cover  

T he followup to Asia’s eponymous debut turned out to be just plain awlpha. As progressive rock fans dance their happy little dance of “I told you so,” let’s examine Alpha’s flaws: Carl Palmer and Steve Howe don’t write any of the material, the vocal harmonies of their debut are replaced by processed multitracking of John Wetton’s voice, almost every song is written from the perspective of a man who just broke up with his girlfriend (yippee!), the arrangements are schmaltzy, and the album was recorded in Canada. Steve Howe, whose athletic guitar work was a minor revelation on Asia, pulls up lame on Alpha -- he’s almost a nonentity. The same could be said for Carl Palmer, who is reduced to 4/4 beats on tracks like “Never in a Million Years” that just mush the arrangements into non-potable pulp. But it’s Wetton and the appropriately named Geoff Downes who shoulder the responsibility for Alpha’s failures: the songs are made from self-pitying dreck. Just a sampler of Alpha’s bits is enough to drag you down: “How can I offer sympathy? / When all I feel is pure rejection” (from “The Last to Know”), “The smile has left your eyes / Now there’s no one to sympathize” (from “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes),” “Can you give me reasons / Why I made this sacrifice?” (from “Eye to Eye”), ad nauseum. In retrospect, any album that begins by admonishing the listener “Don’t cry” is probably destined to disappoint. Lest Alpha be regarded as a total waste, there are a few tracks like “Eye to Eye,” “Midnight Sun” and “Open Your Eyes” that suggest some of the old magic is still there. However, the enigma of Alpha is that so little magic remained -- after all, these are the same four guys and the same producer that created the multiplatinum Asia. It’s clear that the band was becoming a vehicle for Wetton and Downes, who manage to drive the band into the toilet with one clean jerk of the wheel. But they were largely responsible for Asia’s original success, so what gives? Theories abound, none of them pretty, all pointing squarely to Canada. In an odd move, only the cassette version features the track “Daylight” (apparently to weight it down in the event that it’s jettisoned from moving cars).

4008-2 booklet back cover
4008-2 booklet back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. DON'T CRY    3:41
  2. THE SMILE HAS LEFT YOUR EYES    (John Wetton)    3:13
  3. NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS    3:46
  4. MY OWN TIME (I'LL DO WHAT I WANT)    4:49
  5. THE HEAT GOES ON    5:00
  6. EYE TO EYE    3:14
  7. THE LAST TO KNOW    4:40
  8. TRUE COLORS    3:53
  9. MIDNIGHT SUN    3:48
  10. OPEN YOUR EYES    6:26
  11. *DAYLIGHT

    All songs written by John Wetton/Geoff Downes unless noted. All tracks arranged by Asia.

CREDITS

GEOFFREY DOWNES -- keyboards
STEVE HOWE -- guitars
CARL PALMER -- drums
JOHN WETTON -- vocals and bass guitar
Paul Northfield -- engineer
Mike Stone -- engineer, mixing
Roger Dean -- artwork

return to ASIA discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK/GER/NET August 1983 Geffen LP/CD/CS GEF-25508 lyric sleeve, CS incl. extra track (*)
US August 1983 Geffen LP/CD/CS GHS-4008 lyric sleeve, CS incl. extra track (*)
JPN   Geffen CD UICY-9124 digital remaster

 

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