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Asia - The Collection CD (album) cover




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3.15 | 4 ratings

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3 stars The Collection is a really nice collection. One of the fews that is worth to buy for an old-time fan who knows all the albums of a band. This compilation consist of songs from the first three Payne-era albums...besides two old classics resung by the new singer and six tracks only released on the two Archivas before! The chosen Aqua, Aria and Arena tracks are for the most part smart, there may be only one or two which shouldn't be there.

Fortunately, the little booklet explains a bit about most of the firstly available songs, which I'm going to share with the readers.

Let's have an overlook.

The opener Only Time Will Tell '97 is one of the past hits. Payne had the opportunity to follow his predecessor and he did a good job without copying Wetton. This one definitely fits his voice much better than Heat of the Moment, the another re-recorded 1982 hit.

From Arena 4 songs were chosen, they were arranged into two pairs: Into the Arena and Arena, the instrumental and the truly great title track belonged together and followed each other even on the studio album, both are impregnated by the common Latin feeling. Bella Nova is a synth-based, short instrumental song which is comfortable to listen to, but doesn't offer anything special. Unlike U Bring Me Down which was a big surprise among the other Arena songs, since Aziz Ibrahim's cooperation effected a song filled with Arabic elements including his guitar solo. Its pace is quite slow lead by the monotonous drums but the whole thing is very surrounding and interesting, especially the outro where lots of sound layers (for example a new guitar solo and a repeated verse).

Strange, but only 3-3 songs represent Aqua and Aria, which are both a lot better than their follow-up. Aria's three are the great and hard Military Man, its most complex song, Don't Cut the Wire and the awesome and lyric closer, Aria. They may not be the best choices to introduce the album, but they're morea representative than the 3 which should have displayed Aqua...

...though, Someday is one of the highlights there, the catchy Lay Down Your Arms and the hard rock song, Back in Town are two of the weakest efforts of the band around 1992. However, they can't really ruin the compilation as their style is somewhat different from every other song of The Collection: they help creating a wide perspective of the early Payne-era.

And finally, we've arrived to the unknown songs.

A.L.O. (from 1989!) is John's tribute to ELO - this is the worst Asia song I've heard in my life! In parts it reminds me a bit of old school rock and roll, which I can't really stand, so this one is not very appealing for me. In top of that all, the closing chord is incredibly false - it might be a joke, but a very bad one. Ginger, recorded back in 1996 is a Steve Howe solo song, and the old master rarely makes a mistake, this beautiful guitar piece is not an exception. According to the booklet it "was a potentional opening track for Arena".

Boys from Diamond City is the best of the six outtakes. Payne's voice is resounding all over the song, the chorus is simply awesome, all in one, that's a very strong track. It's copyright data refers to 1994, that foreshadows it could have been left off Aria. Unfortunately nothing more is uncovered about it. The instrumental The Smoke That Thunders (1995) features drum sampling from Palmer, it's opener drums is similar to the famous When the Levee Breaks-intro by Led Zeppelin's John Bonham. The melody instrument are the synths which are also responsible for the fine the main riff.

Don't Come to Me is from 1995, and that fact said pretty much everything: a typical Arena- like track, but better than the average, more low-key and clear-out than Words, Never or Falling - all of them could have been easily replaced by this. Finally, Armenia (1990) is an almost ambient song with very electric soundings here and there which was originally composed for an album which was made in order to help that country (eventually, it was not included due to a lack of space). A bit boring and repetitive for my tastes.

My father was about trading this album some time ago - now I'm happy he didn't sold The Collection.

Diaby | 3/5 |


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