Friday, November 28, 2008

Curiosity Killed the Cat

I bought the new album from the "reunited" rock band Asia today. The original line-up (discounting a couple of other "hybrids") came back together for the first time in 25 years to record an album. I was curious what these guys would sound like after 25 years apart . . . they should have stayed apart! The album is horrible.

What a disappointment!

I first heard Asia when I was in the 8th grade, on a youth mission trip to Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Up until that point in time, I was a big country music geek (since that was all my family listened to) . . . I didn't quite think that rock-n-roll was devil's music, but it wasn't for me. That is until that fateful day I heard "Don't Cry," from Asia's second album, "Alpha." I was hooked.

To this day, Asia's first two albums remain among my favorites. Their newest offering, "Phoenix," is a pale imitation.

Asia is not the first music band to try to recapture the magic of eons ago. It seems that every rock band of the past has put themselves onto the nostalgic trip (and some--the Rolling Stones!--have been been pursuing nostalgia non-stop for, what, the past 3 centuries!). Why do they bother? Why rest on the creativity and artistry of decades past? Why not push themselves to evolve, to discover new chords and rhythms, to create original music?

Think Johnny Cash. The music he produced in the years prior to his death was different in many ways from the music he created when he was in his 30s and before. There was a certain progression in his music. He experimented. He wasn't afraid to do something new. After all, in his later years, he recorded with the likes of Bono and U2 . . . this singer who came from the Mississippi Delta land of Arkansas!

Or, consider Ricky Skaggs. In the 80's he was the Brad Paisley and Garth Brooks of the day. But, now 20 years later, he is a bluegrass trailblazer . . . and even blending his bluegrass sound with the eclectic "jazz" of Bruce Hornsby.

And, Eric Clapton . . . from rock "god" to a prince of the blues (there is only one King . . . B. B., that is!) . . . and master of the acoustical set.

These men and other pushed themselves into different facets and genres of music and are still creating new and satisfying sounds. So, why, are Asia, Styx, Journey, Rush, and the like dressing up in leather pants at age 50 and 60 and putting out the same old stuff?

Now, don't get me wrong, I like the old stuff . . . the original old stuff . . . and I throw those tunes into my CD player all the time . . . but the tracks are (c) 1983 and not (c) 2008!