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On disc: Icon

3 - Claudia Ehrhardt - 9 stars


(Frontiers - 2009)

It's been many years since John Wetton and Geoffrey Downes worked together for the first time and many music fans will know Asia's hits from the early 80's. For a few years - and their 3rd studio album - they work together as Icon - their second home next to Asia.
Geoff Downes' keyboard leads you into the first track which is called Twice The Man I Was - and soon they got me hooked up! I got into Asia with their first album - and saw them on tour 1982 - and I always liked John Wetton's voice and the music of the dynamic duo. But don't expect Icon sounds like Asia, even if there are similarities. But that's just natural when you have 2 of the original Asia members and song writers. On their 3rd Icon album they get supported on guitar by Dave Kilminster, cellist Hugh McDowell and drummer Pete Riley. And again the duo managed to write great songs like Destiny. It's not just the catchy melody, it's the keyboard which stays in the background and still is essential to the Icon sound. Dave Kilminster adds a beautiful guitar part and Wetton's vocals touch you. At Green Lights And Blue Skies they bring back the spheric sounds of 70's prog rock - for a moment. Another catchy rock tune with a dash of prog and a slight melancholy touch. At Raven they welcome two guests - harpist Andreas Vollenweider and Mostly Autumn singer Anne-Marie Helder. Raven is a beautiful ballad carried by the 2 voices accompanied by harp, cello, acoustic guitar and piano. Enchanting!
The cello at My Life Is In Your Hands reminds me a bit of German band City... After a slow opening the song speeds up a bit. Some passages are dreamy through the cello, but then there is the up-tempo part where the rhythm makes you move and the vocals cheer you up. But then they slow down again and the song fades out. Crunchy guitar riffs they present at Sex, Power And Money, but Downes' keyboard takes off the edge a bit. But when the riffs open up this one it's like a wake up call. During the refrain the backings add a Queen-ish, bombastic touch while the keyboard carries the verse and supports the vocals. Influenced by classical music is Anna's Kiss where Andreas Vollenweider's harp is back. My knowledge of classical music isn't good enough to tell you what this one is reminding me off... Sorry. The instrumental gets a different vibe when the guitar joins in, it get's heavier... more rock, but then the classical theme is back. Piano-based is Under The Sky, but also offers heavy riffs. And again it's John Wetton's voice which can touch you and makes the song special. Don't Go Out Tonight is a typical Asia tune - and lots of fun! Another great one is Never Thought I'd See You Again which is a balladesque tune with a great hook line. An ear catcher!
Last, but not least you get Peace In Our Time. The backing choir gives the song something epic and the cello adds a sad note while the singing guitar carries a spark of hope. Well done!
I can recommend this album to every fan of Wetton / Downes and Icon and even Asia - even if Icon is different, I think you'll like this one as well... And if you are into catchy art rock, then you should check 3 out! Listen to Never Thought I'd See You Again, Raven, Under The Sky and My Life In Your Hands.

9 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt


           2008-2010 by Claudia Ehrhardt • E-Mail:

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