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Raised In Captivity
John Wetton told me that being in California certainly influenced the making of his 2011 solo CD Raised In Captivity. Produced by multi-instrumentalist Billy Sherwood, this is the sixth solo release from the lead singer of Asia. There is not only great songwriting on this disc; there’s also several special guests, many associates from Wetton’s illustrious past. As for the vocals, post-triple bypass, the 60-plus year old singer is doing things on this record with his voice I am not sure I have ever heard him do before.
It begins with “Lost For Words,” a blistering opener with Deep Purple’s Steve Morse on guitar. On “Goodbye Elsinore”, a slightly folky semi-sea shanty-like tune, Wetton’s fantastic pipes shine with harmonies that would put the Beach Boys to shame, plus guitar work from former Genesis ax-man Steve Hackett that is simply sublime.
There are big slashing guitar chords, a straight-ahead beat and a catchy chorus on “We Stay Together.”The amazing guitarist Alex Machacek shows some funk of “The Last Night Of My Life,” wailing throughout. Wetton told me he originally wanted his old UK band-ate Allan Holdsworth to play on this one, but scheduling conflicts intervened. However, Eddie Jobson, another UK alumnus, shows up, playing his pulsating violin on “The Devil And The Opera House.”
Asia (and presently Yes) keyboardist Geoff Downes plays on the melodic, acoustic-based “Steffi’s Ring.” This one is truly rich vocally with tight storyline to the lyric and accents from Downes, including a flute-like solo. Original Yes keyboardist (currently with Yoso) Tony Kaye provides some truly stunning piano on “Don't Misunderstand Me” with a spectacular Wetton vocal and lyric that comes close to bringing tears to your eyes.
The best song on Raised In Captivity may be the last. “Mighty Rivers,” a lilting, orchestrated piece features vocalist Anneke Van Giersbergen, whom Wetton has sang with four times, but, as he told me, has yet to meet. With swirling spirited horns and strings, both vocalists sound fantastic, complimenting one another, while simultaneously pushing each other. Raised In Captivity does not see Wetton in captivity at all — he is soaring higher than ever, as a songwriter, player and singer.
~ Ralph Greco, Jr.