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Asia - Astra CD (album) cover




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2.57 | 221 ratings

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2 stars It's 1985, and the wheels had well and truly begun to fall off of the mighty commercial bandwagon that was the supergroup, Asia. Steve Howe had left in a huff, only returning for guest spots when Wetton had gone into the sunset, until the much vaunted recent reunion. He was replaced by a bloke called Mandy Meyer, of whom it could be politely said that not many people outside of his immediate family had truly heard of at the time. My research for this review uncovered the ultimately uninspiring fact that he also recorded an album later with Krokus. To state that he was not much of a replacement for a genius is putting it somewhat mildly.

This album is a mess, and that is being rather kind, and a long term future of ever more bland, commercially unsuccessful, releases, twinned with a massive catalogue of completely unnecessary live releases, beckoned.

There are perhaps three tracks on this album which come a little bit close to recreating the glories that were evident in spades on the debut, and sporadically on the second. These are the anthemic openers Go and Voice of America, whilst Rock And Roll Dream is also a good pomp rock track.

There seemed to be a great deal of confusion as to where the band wanted to take themselves, which is surprising given the ego fuelled rows that saw Howe leave under a cloud, disillusioned with a lack of songwriting input. On Countdown To Zero, we even have a hilariously bad attempt at cod Gary Numan type monotones by the once great Wetton.

The remainder of tracks are instantly forgettable pap, and the other feature of this album is just how poor the production is. At times, the band really struggle to make themselves heard coherently, which is a shame, because certainly Geoff Downes' keyboards are really rather good amongst the dross recorded. These are highlighted to best effect on the closer, After The War, which is, I am afraid, no more than a poor man's Wildest Dreams.

This album marked my personal disillusionment with Asia, a phase that was to last until the reunion album Phoenix. It is very forgettable and one wonders at just how three superior, vastly talented, people such as Wetton, Downes, and Palmer could allow themselves to be so let down by a finished product.

Two stars. One that is most definitely for completionists only, and I am being a little bit generous in my rating.

lazland | 2/5 |


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