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The season of art-rock peaked with the supergroups of the late 1970s, of which UK was the most important. It consisted of keyboardist and violinist Eddie Jobson (Roxy Music), guitarist Allan Holdsworth (Nucleus), bassist John Wetton (King Crimson), and drummer Bill Bruford (Yes). UK (Polydor, 1978) featured the suite In The Dead Of The Night. Bruford and Holdsworth left before Danger Money (1979), the others disbanded after that album. While technically impeccable, their songs displayed little emotion and sounded a little dated, as far as progressive-rock went.
Wetton, after working on the solo albums Jacknife (EG, 1979) and Caught In The Crossfire (EG, 1980), joined a new supergroup, Asia, that featured drummer Carl Palmer (EL & P), Steve Howe (Yes), and Geoff Downes (Buggles). Asia (Giffen, 1982) offered a mixture of heavy and soft rock (Heat Of The Moment)
Alpha (1983) and Astra (1985), without Howe, were pure routine. Wetton also worked on Wetton Manzanera (Geffen, 1987) with Roxy Music's Phil Manzanera.
Then & Now (1990) contains a selection of songs from the first three albums ("Then") and some new songs ("Now").
Asia reformed (but without Wetton) to release the indecent Aqua (JRS, 1992) and only Downes was left of the original founders on Aria (1995) and Arena (Resurgence, 1996).
Few bands have wasted so much talent in such a shameless manner.
In the meantime bassist John Wetton, relocated to California, launched his solo career in earnest with Battle Lines (Eclipse, 1994), Chasing The Dragon (Eclipse, 1995), a selection of live performances, Akustika (Blueprint, 1996), an acoustic selection of his old material, and Arkangel (Eagle Rock, 1997), the first real studio album since 1994. Wetton then flooded the market with several live albums and with Chasing The Deer (Blueprint, 1998), Hazy Monet (Blueprint, 1998), Monkey Business (Blueprint, 1998), Welcome To Heaven (Avalon, 2000).
In 2000 Wetton, Carl Palmer, keyboardist John Young and guitarist Dave Kilminster formed Qango. John Wetton & Geoff Downes (Stallion, 2001) also collaborated on a new album.
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When they appeared in the early '80s, Asia seemed to be a holdover from the '70s, when supergroups and self-important progressive rockers reigned supreme. Featuring members of such seminal art rock bands as King Crimson (John Wetton), Emerson, Lake & Palmer (Carl Palmer), and Yes (Steve Howe), as well as Geoff Downes from the Buggles, Asia did feature stretches of indulgent instrumentals on their records. However, they also could be surprisingly poppy, and that is what brought them to the top of the charts with their debut album, Asia, and its hit single, "Heat of the Moment." Alpha, their second album, also had a couple of hits ("Don't Cry" and "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes") but its follow-up, Astra, was a flop. The group disbanded in 1985, only to reunite in 1990 without John Wetton; John Payne took his place. After churning out a couple of new songs for a greatest-hits collection, the band hit the road, including two sold-out dates in front of 20,000 fans in Moscow, of all places. Thereafter, they toured sporadically and released the albums Aqua (in 1992) and Aria (in 1994).
Stephen Thomas Erlewine - All-Music Guide
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