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Wetton/Downes Icon II - Rubicon Frontiers Records
FRCD309
Produced By: John Wetton & Geoff Downes

Running Time: 50.27

Release Date: Out Now

Released:

Musical Style: Melodic Rock / AOR

Links: Frontiers
90%
Songs: 90%
Sound: 90%
Two dodgy live albums had left me a little blasť about the Asia duo's new studio album.
Mr Wetton & Mr Downes produced a rich, lush and very fine example of up to date AOR with their debut. Maybe it was a little slow, but it was quality. Then those two live albums really killed my enthusiasm for the guys.
But the opening strains of this album renewed by enthusiasm in a heartbeat as this is what they do best and should stick to.
The Die Is Cast and Finger On The Trigger finally see the guys get out of first gear and into a more uptempo realm. These are two seriously good songs. Both tracks make a great start to the album and for are 2 of the best tracks from the pair in many years. And for whatever reason, they both have an unmistakably 80s feel to them, something that it thought the debut didn't make obvious.
Following on from those tracks, Reflections is another musically rich track and a very smooth ballad.
I'm not sure what to make of the double-header that follows though. Two songs in a row feature John Wetton duetting with a Anneke van Giersbergen of The Gathering. To Catch A Theif and Tears Of Joy are both very slow and while both a quality pieces, they sound more like excerpts from a Wetton solo project.
Shannon sees the album get back on track, with the sound returning to the more expected.
The soft, but layered harmonies and detailed orchestration of The Hanging Tree and The Glory Of Winning are (as the song suggests) both winners for Wetton/Downes.
The album drops the tempo through the mid-section and only picks it up to the point of where the debut sat for the remainder of the record. I would have liked to have heard a couple more faster moving tracks like the opening pair.
That said, the closer Rubicon may be stuck in that same mid-tempo sphere that the guys find comfortable, but it is a fine track to close the album.
The Bottom Line
Production is a little rougher than the debut and a little less layered, but the heart of the album revolves around the same premise - smooth, adult contemporary AOR. Overall, I think a mix of tracks from both studio albums would have made the perfect AOR release.
Add in those two killer opening tracks and a more pronounced 80s influence through the record and you get an album that comes closer to the original Asia sound than any album since that band's early days.
Discography / Previously Reviewed
Wetton / Downes
Icon
Acoustic TV Broadcast
Live - Never In A Million Years
Icon II - Rubicon

Line Up:
John Wetton: Vocals, Bass, Guitars
Geoffrey Downes: Keyboards
John Mitchell: Guitars
Steve Christey: Drums
Hugh McDowell: Cello

Essential For Fans Of:
Asia
Track Listing
The Die is Cast *
Finger on the Trigger *
Reflections (of my life) *
To Catch a Thief
Tears of Joy
Shannon *
The Hanging Tree
The Glory of Winning
Whirlpool
Rubicon *

--*Best Tracks



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