When I think of John Wetton, my thoughts hearken back to the early 80s Asia stadium anthem, Heat of the Moment. To call it a song, is to call Bach just “another classical composer” or the Beatles just “another rock band.” Rightly so, Wetton was 1/4th of that 80s supergroup which was equal parts Yes (Steve Howe on guitar), The Buggles (Geoff Downes on keyboards), Emerson Lake & Palmer (Carl Palmer on drums), and King Crimson (John Wetton on vocals and bass).
Part of the chemistry of that line-up was the superlative songwriting of Wetton and Downes. Much like Nirvana in the early 90s. Asia spoke to only a single generation before the various members went their separate ways. They were known for hits describing heartache and general teenage lust. Wetton’s trademark impassioned vocals took songs that would have sounded cliché being performed by lesser singers and gave them a heavy dose of credibility… then again Wetton’s passionate vocals could give the phone book credibility.
Fast Forward to 2002-- for the first time in over 10 years John Wetton once again found himself writing material with Geoffrey Downes… on the very same piano they used in their heyday in Asia. Wetton’s solo catalogue has produced albums worth of anthems which hearken back to his days in Asia, mixing hints of seventies prog-rock with deeply passionate, and more often than not autobiographical, lyrics.
Wetton’s latest, Rock of Faith, is no exception. With each listen I find myself growing more attached to this gem of a CD. The highlights of the CD are the two songs co-penned by former Asia bandmate, Geoffrey Downes, I’ve Come to Take You Home and I Lay Down but truly there are no weak spots on the album. The album is peppered with Eastern European influences, heavenly choirs, Supertramp-esque keyboards and saxophones, and even hints of Beach Boy, Brian Wilson’s multi-layered vocal harmonies. The instrumental tracks, Mondrago and Altro Mondo are lush and absolutely beautiful. All-in-all it’s a shame that this album goes largely undiscovered due to it’s Japanese/European only release—other than his work with Asia and King Crimson, Wetton’s solo work is known in the United States only by a handful of very devoted fans.