In the eighties Wetton shifted his focus slightly to what could best be described as prog-pop or possibly "Arena-Prog" with the early eighties MTV arena rock supergroup juggernaut, Asia.
With 1995's Battle Lines Wetton shifted even further into the pop realm with his brief foray into the realm of adult contemporary music in an attempt to attract some new listeners and perhaps make himself a bit more accessible.
While not as adventurous or as interesting as Wetton's more progressive material, Battle Lines is certainly more accessible. The material is still uminstakably John Wetton but it lacks a bit of the adventurousness of his earlier career.
As a prog-pop album, Battle Lines, is a bit of a disappointment. As an adult-contemporary album, on the other hand, Battle Lines, is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. The only "throwaway" or "filler" track to be found is Jane which would not have sounded out of place in the eighties-- somewhat troubling consideirng that Battle Lines was released well into the nineties.
Other than the lone hiccup, Wetton's voice is thoroughly enjoyable as always. While he may not be the best singer, what he lacks in vocal quality he far more than makes up for in the overall passion of his vocal delivery. His vocals particularly stand out on the title track, Battle Lines, and on the utterly heart-wrenching, tear-jerking Hold Me Now.
There are far too numerous songs about unrequited love to even begin to count, but what sets Hold Me Now apart from the rest of the sizable pack is not just Wetton's impassioned delivery but also the subject matter. This isn't a song of romantic love, but of love between a child and his mother. The pain in Wetton's voice is downright palpable as he implores;
Mama, just hold me now
You don't have to be pretend
Smash the chains and throw them to the floor
Hold me now and let me believe that a kiss is the way it should be
'cause it means the world to me
Hold Me Now makes Battle Lines well worth the purchase price on its own, let alone the rest of material on the album.
With subsequent releases Wetton would start to return to his more progressive roots much to the delight of his fans. But this album shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. Taken in the right context this album is as thoroughly enjoyable as anything else Wetton has ever recorded. And some credit must be given for Wetton to at least try his hand at a genre he was not known for performing.
John Wetton Interview (1994)
John Wetton & Steve Hackett (ex-Genesis) performing Battle Lines
John Wetton (official site)
John Wetton (wikipedia)
Voice Mail / Battle Lines (wikipedia)