Record Guide

These capsule reviews of a few currently available releases are designed to help readers decide which records to buy. Inclusion does not indicate Monitor endorsement. Further reviews in the rock/pop category - as well as in other categories, such as classical and jazz - are published from time to time. ROCK/POP

Asia: ''Asia.'' GHS 2008. Asia goes down smoother than melted ice cream. It's sugary and sweet, and sung with competence by John Wetton. This group's first album is an ideal middle ground between hard rock and pop. There were a lot of poor reviews for this album, probably for its perfect reading of what will get it radio play. Yet the sound that's created is actually quite pleasing, perhaps ever so slightly innovative, and well written. Asia is made up of rock veterans Steve Howe, who played lead guitar for Yes (which in its heyday was considerably more inventive than Asia is); Carl Palmer, a founding member of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer; Wetton, who has performed with groups ranging from ''Roxy Music'' to ''U.K.''; and Geoff Downes. ''Heat of the Moment'' and ''Sole Survivor'' are two of the songs that have been particularly well received in singledom. ''Wildest Dreams'' and several other tunes on this album demonstrate that Asia can maintain its carefully crafted (for pop acceptance) work throughout an LP.

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