Monday, May 9, 2011

I Want My MTV Back: "Asia in Asia" (1983)

This 1983 concert video makes one nostalgic for the day when MTV actually played more than questionable reality shows, and showed complete music videos.

Supergroup Asia consisted of Greg Lake on bass and vocals, Steve Howe on guitar, Carl Palmer on drums, and Geoffrey Downes on keyboards.

The hour long video was taped at the Bukodan in Tokyo, Japan. MTV veejay/"where are they now?" subject Mark Goodman is trotted out to introduce the Japanese. His phonetic blabbering is not subtitled, making me think the Japanese could not understand it either. As the band takes the stage, the audience seems overly polite, barely uttering a sound.

The first song, "The Heat Goes On," proves one point. Lake was brought in to do vocals shortly before this was made, and must rely on a teleprompter to get the lyrics down. He looks to his left and barely moves during the entire concert. "Here Comes That Feeling" is next, and is easily the weakest song of the set. The band is still trying to get the feel of the audience, and this melodramatic song does not help. "Eye to Eye" is punctuated with a great Steve Howe solo. The crowd finally goes nuts when "Only Time Will Tell" begins, and director Mallet gives us a few crowd shots. "Open Your Eyes" is strong vocally and instrumentally, and Downes' piano solo into "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes" is great.

Despite Howe's awful segue into "Wildest Dreams," the song works when Greg Palmer is allowed to break out on drums. "Heat of the Moment" follows, and "Sole Survivor" (a really strange song) is the encore number. Fans of Asia might love this, but there are a few too many songs with the words "heat," "eye," and "time" in their titles, and it seems a little confusing.

The stage set is neat, a giant capital "A" framing the band. Downes' twenty five foot span of keyboards runs along the back of the stage, and his back is to the audience the entire time!

Mallet, a veteran of concert videos, does some nice editing, but you can see most of his cameramen onstage in the long shots. The video recording equipment is old and there are stage light burns on some of the shots.

"Asia in Asia" is not perfect, but it will make any child of the '80's nostalgic for the day when MTV was cool. (* * * *) out of five stars.