Song of the Day, February 9: Only Time Will Tell by Asia

ASIAOnlyTimeToday’s song is Only Time Will Tell by Asia, a supergroup often excoriated as an example of corporate rock excess. The original quartet comprised musicians from a variety of British progressive and art rock bands from the 70s. In 1981, John Wetton (bassist and vocalist of  King Crimson, Family, Roxy Music, Uriah Heep, UK, and Wishbone Ash), Steve Howe (longtime guitarist for Yes), Geoff Downes (keyboardist of Yes and the Buggles) and Carl Palmer (drummer of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, and Atomic Rooster) joined forces as Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer were dissolving. With Mike Stone producing, they pooled and polished their talents.

Asia was a monster hit. Far more AOR than prog or art rock, it rankled many fans of the source bands but struck an early-80s chord with fans of Journey, Styx, Boston, and the like. The lead single, Heat of the Moment, blasted up the charts and the album logged nine weeks at number one, becoming the biggest seller of 1982.

The disc’s finest moment, however, was the second single. With an anthemic keyboard riff from Downes and powerful but not over-the-top delivery from Wetton, it’s a sort of art-rock power ballad. Believe it or not, that worked. An angry, enthusiastic kiss-off of a song, the amped up delivery serves the message well. On this track Asia sounds like a real band presenting a great song rather than an exercise in padding wallets. It’s fun, bombastic in all the right ways, and a nice showcase for the assembled talents.

Enjoy this often overlooked 80s gem today.


About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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