Astra (1985)

1. Go 2. Voice of America 3. Hard On Me 4. Wishing 5. Rock and Roll Dream 6. Countdown to Zero 7. Love Now 'til Enternity 8. Too Late 9. Suspicious 10.After the War


Alas, the experiment known as Asia did not really last that long. Truth be told, it did last. It lasted a long time, but the core lineup that was really the only thing that resembled any sort of talent would not. It seems tensions were already rife of 1983's Alpha between John Wetton and Steve Howe. Wetton was wanting more commercially sounding material, whereas Howe wanted to steer the group more towards "art". It seemed Howe might have been the victor when a heavily publicized concert on MTV (the first ever for the fledgling network) titled "Asia in Asia" had Wetton gone, temporarily replaced by Greg Lake. Well, once the recording started for their third record, Wetton was back in, and Howe was out. His replacement? A guy that used to play in Krokus named Mandy Meyer (That's what I said - Who??)

This record definitely sounds like Asia. Hollow, thick production, with John Wetton's vocals thundering over majestic sounding music. The problem here is that the band, musically, seems to have lost their identity. They seem to have devolved from a "Classic Art Rock Band" to an amusement park spectacle. Yes, some songs do sound appealing, but many of them are too kitschy, and the novelty wears thin after only a few listens. Songs like Rock and Roll Dream, Love Now 'Til Eternity and Voice of America sound like "showy" pieces from an event put on by your local high school down at the American Legion Hall.

There are also a couple of anti-war riffs that really don't go anywhere, and are actually "bad", if not borderline "awful". These would be After the War and Countdown to Zero. For what it's worth, the guys do manage to put out one respectable song - the leadoff track and first single Go. It sounds just as good as anything else from their first two albums. Sadly, one great song an album does not make, and this record fizzled off the charts barely after scraping on. Even the catchy video to the lead off single went nowhere, leading most to conclude that the public had really gotten tired of Asia. It was a shame. It seemed they could have done much more.

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