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Asia - Astra CD (album) cover




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2.57 | 220 ratings

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Symphonic Team
2 stars Hardly a rock 'n' roll dream!

This is Asia's third album and the first one that departed from the original line up. The change is that the great Steve Howe was replaced by Mandy Mayer. Howe's shoes were very hard to fill, and even if I miss Howe here I must say that, surprisingly, the loss of Howe did not disrupt the Asia sound too much. Most of their trademarks were in place here; once again the sound is heavily anchored in the 80's (perhaps even more so than on previous albums), once again the lyrics are cheesy and often clichéd (again, perhaps even more so than on previous albums), once again there is a nice fantasy tinged cover art picture by the great Roger Dean (hardly his best, but an intriguing one) and once again the album title begins and ends with the letter A (Asia, Alpha, Astra, etc.)

As an effect of Howe's absence, the keyboards of Geoff Downes would take a somewhat larger part in the sound and would perhaps be the first sign of what was to come in the 90's when Downes would become the leader of the band as the only remaining founding member. However, they keyboard sounds are, apart from piano, rather electronic sounding. The bass guitar is very timid and can rarely be heard!

Go is in my opinion a stronger opening number than Heat Of The Moment or Don't Cry from the previous two albums and thus opens the album on a high note. Voice Of America has nice melody but features another cringe worthy chorus line that goes 'Voice Of America, Oh! Oh! Oh! America' I wish that they would have come up with some better lyrics for this. And must I mention that there is nothing progressive about most of these songs?

With the slight progressive tendencies and the very high cheese factor evenly spread over the album, it is hard to pick out favourite songs. But the better songs, apart from Go, come towards the middle and end of the album. The closer, After The War, probably takes the price as the best song with some tasteful acoustic guitar licks and finally some more reflective lyrics.

If you can get passed the cheesy lyrics and the flat, distinctly 80's production, there are some enjoyable sounds here for sure. However, this is not an album I would play loudly unless I was home alone and I was sure that the neighbours were away! You might say that this is a so-called guilty pleasure!

If you are a fan of Asia, you should definitely get this one too. If you are not a fan, however, Astra should not be one of your priorities as the band has made several better albums both before and after this one.

For fans and collectors primarily!

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |


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