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'High Voltage'
(Frontiers Records)
Release Date: 22nd August 2014

Gary 'Rockulus' Clarke

Rockulus Maximus


For real purists and anoraks of the melodic rocking giants Asia, this live album captures their appearance in 2010 at the High Voltage Festival which took place in Victoria Park, London.

Having the distinction of being the only official recorded release of that fateful meeting of the original line-up performing their debut self-titled 1982 album, it also is noteworthy that amongst the 11 tracks shared there are two added songs.

These two extra songs captured during this live extravaganza are 'An Extraordinary Life' and 'I Believe' which in their studio forms can be found on 'Phoenix' from 2008 and 'Omega' released in 2010 respectively. Are these reasons alone worthy of you spending your hard earned cash if you're only partially interested in these highly regarded Melodic Progressive Rockers? I would say no.

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The quality really reflects how this is a purely live recording as the sound quality allows all the instruments to be heard clearly, although it doesn't possess the sparkle and sheen of other live albums like delights of the calibre of 'Live After Death' and 'Live... In The Raw'. The keys are allowed to breathe and blossom and the vocals come and go in places as voices aren't captured with consistency via the microphones, but overall 'High Voltage' is what it is – a live album with warts and all.

If you attended the 2010 festival and found yourself enjoying their set, this will make a special moment. Available on DVD as well as CD, this show is a celebration of a line-up that brought us a remarkable debut album back in the early 80s. My main issue is that most of us can easily live without this trip in time as we already possess the debut studio album, or even better, we may have purchased several other albums by Asia and are more than satisfied with those.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed hearing 'An Extraordinary Life' in the live environment and the set-closer 'Heat Of The Moment' which is their BIG song naturally. I can only imagine the angry hordes if the band had left this leviathan out of their set!

On reflection, after a fairly mixed response to the band's last studio album 'Gravitas', was it really a wise move to allow a release this disposable to surface? It only goes to compound their patchy output as opposed to extending any positive momentum they may have earned with better albums like 'XXX'. I'm not a businessman in comparison to a record label that truly embraces Rock music of a melodic sensibility, so what do I know?

Another point to be highlighted by delayed live releases of this nature, is when the vocalist or band member are speaking about things relevant to the band at the time, and yet are widely irrelevant by the time we get to hear them. I say this whilst considering the wise words of bassist and vocalist John Wetton prior to playing new song 'I Believe' from their current album 'Omega'.

These observations fit like a glove for the nostalgic element of those who attended and for those are serious fans of the band, but for the rest of us it is only of partial interest. In times like these where money has a lot more importance and value due to increasing costs of product around us, in relativity to the increase of our wages (if we have jobs), it's good to be extra vigilante about what music we buy.

Only Time Will Tell
Wildest Dreams
One Step Closer
An Extraordinary Life
Time Again
Cutting It Fine
Without You
I Believe
Here Comes The Feeling
Sole Survivor
Heat Of The Moment

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