“Alpha is sorely disappointing, especially coming on the heels of a promising debut” (Demalon). It was “a platinum-selling Top Ten hit” (Demalon), but a “disappointment to some fans” (Wikipedia.org) compared to 1982’s Asia, which had sold 10 million copies worldwide and spent nine weeks atop the U.S. Billboard charts.
“Where Asia managed to make old sounds fresh, Alpha fails miserably. Nothing on Alpha packs the sheer sonic force of the band’s debut” (Demalon), although lead single Don’t Cry did give the band their second top 10 U.S. pop hit. “Instead, much of the record is lightweight both lyrically and musically, leaning heavier on keyboard-laden ballads like The Smile Has Left Your Eyes, which managed to scrape into the Top 40, and My Own Time (I’ll Do What I Want). The only real meat on the record comes during the last cut, Open Your Eyes (and only at the end of the song)” (Demalon).
“Alpha was the product of Geoff Downes’ and John Wetton’s song-writing. Steve Howe was mostly left out of the writing process, causing tensions within the band. Recorded in Morin Heights, Canada, Alpha is Asia's…last album with Steve Howe as full-time guitarist until 2008’s Phoenix” (Wikipedia.org). In the 25-year interim, Howe would go on to form the one-album-only supergroup GTR with former Genesis’ guitarist Steve Hackett, which released one self-titled album in 1986. Howe also frequently worked with former band Yes and occasionally turned in a guest spot on an Asia album.
Howe wasn’t the only one who jumped ship. Wetton bailed “before the year was out” (Demalon), replaced briefly by Emerson, Lake, & Palmer vocalist Greg Lake on tour. Wetton, however, would return by 1985’s Astra.
The “rumored creative differences, the album’s lukewarm reception, and flagging ticket sales for the ensuing tour” (Demalon) effectively ended the band’s momentum. The Asia brand name would soldier on with numerous personnel changes; it would be 25 years before the original four would record together again on 2008’s Phoenix.