Thursday, December 2, 2021

Asia’s Official Bootlegs

Multi-platinum selling English supergroup Asia are to release a 10 CD boxset, The Official Live Bootlegs Volume 1, through BMG Records this coming 26th November – There will also be a digital album featuring a selection of 24 tracks taken from the full boxset, out on the same day.

Prior to that is the release a live version of their 1982 global smash hit single ‘Heat Of The Moment

Heat of The Moment‘ was the final song recorded for Asia‘s first album because, as John Wetton noted, he and co-writer Geoff Downes were “very, very focused by the end of recording” the album.

The song was tailor-made for the new MTV video channel and peaked at No.4 in the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart on six occasions through the spring and summer of 1982. This helped the album to the No.1 spot for an incredible nine weeks.

The live single version of ‘Heat Of The Moment’ was recorded live at Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo, New York, USA on 3rd May 1982. This performance came just days into their debut US tour. They were already selling out 2,000 – 5,000 seat halls. Within weeks, on the strength of an unprecedented amount of radio play and heavy rotation of their videos on MTV, their box office draw exploded.

Geoff Downes, who co-wrote the track with the late John Wetton commented: “Just before we went into the studio to record the first Asia album, we realised we were one track short. So John and I sat down one afternoon and came up with ‘Heat Of The Moment‘.

“He had the chorus, I had the verse and we literally put the ideas together there and then. I’m glad we did, because it became the lead-off single from the album and really established the band in the mainstream pop/rock charts.

“It’s hard to say whether or not the album would have been as successful had we not had this track, but for sure it certainly created a lot of momentum for us at the time. I’m proud of it, as it shows the instant magic John and I could work together as songwriters, and it still remains relevant 40 years on.”

You can catch the video for the live single here at RAMzine.

Asia was a true supergroup pooling the talents of John Wetton (King Crimson, UK, Roxy Music & Family) on bass lead vocals, Steve Howe (Yes) on guitars, Geoff Downes (The Buggles, Yes) on keyboards, and Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Atomic Rooster) on drums – The individuals having already amassed tens of millions of record sales with their previous collective bands in the 70s.

Leaving behind their progressive roots, Asia 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 nine weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard chart as Asiabecame the biggest selling album of the year and world tour dates sold out.

A second album, Alpha, was released in 1983, with band line-ups changes and new album releases thereafter. The four original members reconvened in 2006 for a world tour, to celebrate their 25th anniversary, and the album Phoenix followed.

While the members were still heavily involved in other projects, they came together again to record Omega in 2010 and XXX in 2012, both albums found favour with their faithful fans and were supported by more world tours.

Steve Howe stepped back from Asia to concentrate on his work with Yes and was absent for 2014’s Gravitas. Following this tour came the news of John Wetton’s treatment for cancer, a fight he sadly lost in 2017.

The Official Live Bootlegs Volume 1 celebrates the huge appeal of the concert tours that followed the band’s first two albums in 1982 and 1983. This success continued following Asia’s 25th anniversary reunion in 2006 and three more highly acclaimed albums.

The slipcase boxset features 5 x 2 CD concerts from 1982 (Buffalo, NY, USA), 1983 (Worcester, MA, USA), 2007 (São Paulo, Brazil), 2008 (Tokyo, Japan) and 2010 (London, UK).

“This historical collection represents some of our finest and most defining live moments,” said Downes, “from the very first Asia tour in 1982 and the Alpha tour the following year through three of our many reunion shows. It was such a privilege to take Asia’s music to these different continents and feel the warmth and support from fans all over the world. We hope this brings back great memories and inspires others to appreciate the music of Asia”. 

The sets for the band’s original 1980s tours featured only the band’s new music. For the reunion years tours, they included heritage tracks from each of the band member’s pre-Asia groups. The 2007 and 2008 concerts also feature the Wetton/Howe composition ‘Ride Easy’, a song omitted from the debut album that was issued as the B-side of ‘Heat Of The Moment’, and included in their later live repertoire as a thank you to their fans for their support over a quarter of a century.

This the first time these recordings have been made officially available by Asia and they are presented together in a collector’s edition boxset with original artwork by Roger Dean, who created all of the band’s album artwork.

Asia, The Official Live Bootlegs, Volume 1 can be pre-ordered here.

Paul H Birch
RAMzine Senior Writer - Writer of fiction, faction and fact, has edited several newsstand magazines. He declares himself a hack for hire but refuses to compromise on the subject of music.

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