ASIA - Wetton, Palmer, Howe and Downes, Photo Mike Inns

Box Set Celebrates Anniversary Of ASIA Reunion

by Geoff Ford

Multi-platinum selling supergroup, ASIA, formed in London in 1981, are celebrating their 40th anniversary with a 5CD boxset The Reunion Albums: 2007 – 2012 released through BMG Records. This 5CD deluxe clamshell box set features the 2CD live recording Fantasia, Live In Tokyo (2007) together with the three reunion studio albums Phoenix (2008), Omega (2010) and XXX (2012).

“Some of the songs are the best Wetton-Downes songs we ever wrote”

Geoff Downes

ASIA took the world by a storm when John Wetton (King Crimson, lead vocal/bass), Steve Howe (YES, guitars), Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake & Palmer, drums) and Geoff Downes (The Buggles, YES, keyboards) formed a true supergroup and moved beyond their progressive roots. They embraced the commercial FM rock sound that dominated US airwaves and took that, and the new MTV video channel, by storm. The single Heat Of The Moment was a world-wide monster smash and their eponymous 1982 debut album spent an incredible 9 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard chart as ASIA became the biggest selling album of the year and world tour dates sold out.

A second platinum selling album, Alpha, was released in 1983. The four original members of ASIA reunited to celebrate their 25th anniversary in 2006 and 2007 with a world tour.

A live album from the tour Fantasia, Live In Tokyo was released in 2007 as they returned to the studio together for the first time in a quarter of a century. The reunion would yield three more classic albums Phoenix, Omega together with XXX as they celebrated their 30th anniversary.

Of these later albums Carl Palmer said at the time: “The chemistry and energy that comes out when the four of us are working together, is reflected in the new material.”  For his part, John Wetton marveled at how far the band had then come. “Each one of us is comfortable as a human being, and the sound reflects the collective maturity of these four people who are not only eager to explore but also relaxed enough to luxuriate in the strength of the material.”

This boxsetfeatures the original ASIA line-up, reformed in 2006, and brings together, for the first time, all of ASIA’s essential music into one concise collection.

Fantasia, Live In Tokyo, the 2CD live show from their 2007 World Tour, features many of the tracks from their first two albums Asia (1982) and Alpha (1983) and includes Heat Of The Moment and Don’t Cry together with heritage tracks from each of the band member’s musical history. The band also performed live, for the first time, an acoustic version of Ride Easy, a B-side from the debut single Heat Of The Moment.

The boxset collection is completed by the three reunion studio albums Phoenix, Omega and XXX. These represent some of ASIA’s finest moments and allowed the band to explore fully their rock and progressive roots.

At the heart of ASIA’s success was the writing partnership of John Wetton and Stockport’s Geoff Downes.

“I was the least known in rock circles but after all the bands that they’d been with – Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Yes and King Crimson – those guys were looking for something else. They’d done all the big long pieces in the seventies and when I got together with John, that was the real core of the whole thing. We realised that we had very similar styles of writing and how we wanted to take Asia forward with the songs. It was a very productive writing partnership that John and I developed.”

Geoff was deeply saddened by Wetton’s death from cancer in 2017. “I miss John very much because it was not just productive but he was a great friend of mine as well. He was a brilliant singer and a brilliant writer. It was very tough when John passed away because it was the end of a chapter, for me, of writing with someone that I had such a natural rapport with.”

“Those three albums give a great insight into the reunion of ASIA in 2006 and where it went from that point.”

He also thinks the release of the box set is very timely. “Maybe quite a lot of ASIA fans missed out on some of the albums so the box-set has brought all that together, certainly as a testament to John Wetton. Those three albums, particularly, give a great insight into the whole reunion of ASIA back in 2006 and where it went from that point. It’s nice that this has seen the light of day and people will appreciate what we were doing.

“People will never forget those first two albums that were massive and went all round the globe but commercial success it not necessarily the yardstick of how good something is or what it means to people. Some of the songs on the reunion albums are some of the best Wetton-Downes songs we ever wrote.

These albums are presented together in a superb collector’s edition boxset designed by Roger Dean, who produced all of the original albums’ artwork. The boxset cover image was previously unused and the Fantasia sleeve design has been updated by Dean. 

ASIA, The Reunion Albums: 2007 – 2012 is out now. For more information, please visit