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Asia Aria album cover
2.92 | 170 ratings | 14 reviews | 14% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1994

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Anytime (4:57)
2. Are You Big Enough? (4:07)
3. Desire (5:20)
4. Summer (4:06)
5. Sad Situation (3:59)
6. Don't Cut The Wire (Brother) (5:19)
7. Feels Like Love (4:49)
8. Remembrance Day (4:18)
9. Enough's Enough (4:37)
10. Military Man (4:10)
11. Aria (2:26)

Total Time: 48:08

Bonus tracks on 2005 remaster:
12. Reality (4:27)
13. Military Man (Live Acoustic *) (4:24)
14. Anytime - Multimedia Video

* Recorded on July 21st, 2003 at the XFM Radio Studios in Washington, DC.

Line-up / Musicians

- Al Pitrelli / guitar
- Geoffrey Downes / keyboards, co-producer
- John Payne / bass, guitar, lead & backing vocals, co-producer
- Michael Sturgis / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Roger Dean

LP Bullet Proof Records ‎- VEST 8 (1994, UK)

CD Bullet Proof Records ‎- CDVEST 8 (1994, UK)
CD Inside Out ‎- SPV 085-48312 CD-E (2005, Germany) Remastered with 2 bonus tracks and a Video

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ASIA Aria ratings distribution

(170 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(24%)
Good, but non-essential (34%)
Collectors/fans only (19%)
Poor. Only for completionists (9%)

ASIA Aria reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars No pussyfooting!

There's real power in this album from start to finish, it is undoubtedly Asia's heaviest work. Geoff Downes and John Payne effectively were Asia by this time and take both the song-writing, and production credits through out.

There are numerous stand out tracks, including "Desire", briefly reprised in a quasi operatic way for the excellent final (title) track. "Feels like love" is superbly constructed, the band teasing the listener with building tension which is released by thunderous choruses.

"Sad Situation" recreates the type of song with which the original Asia found so much success. "Military Man" and "Remembrance day" continue the high energy power rock, but for me "Enough's enough" is the best track on the album. There is a Downes keyboard break on the track which has a passing resemblance to Europe's "Final countdown", the song climaxing with real he-man "la-la's".

If you like your rock strong but melodic, this is the Asia album to go for. A five star album for me, but admittedly not a masterpiece of prog.

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
2 stars Aria was Asia's fifth studio album and the second album with John Payne behind the vocals. Carl Palmer had left during the recording of Aqua to join an ELP reunion and Steve Howe had left during the Aqua tour. Lead guitarist Al Pitrelli who joined the band for the Aqua album continues as the sole guitarist for Asia. Replacing Carl Palmer was drummer Michael Sturgis.

Aria really surprised me. Back in 1994 I had already accepted Asia as just an AOR band and was expecting more of the same as Aqua. In some ways they delivered, but this time it was more polished, better composed, much better produced, more tighter and cohesive, and ultimately rivaled Asia's famous debut album. True, it didn't sell at all and the Aria tour was hardly noticeable on the radar at the time, but what a delightful recording Aria was. Payne's vocal delivery was exceptionally well done for AOR music, even exceeding Wetton's skills (I still think Wetton was clearly better as a prog singer back with King Crimson).

Now in terms of progressiveness... Well, that's a far stretch like most of the Asia catalogue. Aria really isn't any different from any prior Asia album. It's straight-ahead AOR music, with just the barest hint of anything progressive going on. Still, it's enjoyable AOR music, much better than most in this area. Lyrically it is more diverse than the Wetton era.

Aria is clearly recommended for Asia fans and AOR enthusiasts. I think it may be the best album Asia ever did, even though their next album (Arena) would actually show signs of actual progressive rock. If this were Rock Archives, I would seriously consider it a four-star affair. Here on Prog Archives, two stars seems appropriate for its level of progressiveness.

Review by The Crow
3 stars Pretty decent second Asia album from the John Payne's era...

If you like the first Asia's works, with the classic line-up, I think you'll also like this album... Despite the musicians are not the same except for Geoffrey Downes. Nevertheless, his keyboards have enough personality to give this album a reconnaissable sound. You only have to hear the beginning of Military Man to notice it... I think he is a really talented keyboardist, specially in creating ambiences and giving deepness to the songs.

The rest of the musicians make his work pretty good... John Payne have a strong and really personal voice. He provides power and feeling to every song. His bass is also correct, like the slapping he makes in Don't Cut the Wire... And what to say about Al Pitrelli? His work here is far from his guitar hero work in Savatage, because it's not necessary. On the contrary, he makes a really detailed and precious guitar work. His solos are not protagonist, but in songs like Don't Cut the Wire, Sad Situation or Feels Like Love (my favourite guitar solo in this album...) he really shines on this aspect. If you appreciate the delicate guitar work of people like Steve Lukather, you'll surely enjoy with the Al Pitrelli's work in Aria!

The style of the album is not really far from the typical Asia's standards... Maybe more hard rock oriented, and so AOR as always. I'd not say this is progressive, or symphonic... Like the rest of Asia's efforts, it has its symphonic moments, and some complex structures. But it's not progressive... Just a very melodic hard rock with an strong 80's AOR feeling, despite this album was made in 1994.

Best songs: Anytime (good opening... Paynes signs in your face, introducing the album's sound and direction), Summer (precious acoustic Pitrelli's guitar work... For a mellow and talented track), Enough's Enough (I really like the verses... And I also like the epic instrumental interlude, wich remembers mi to the german band Europe!), Military Men (another epic track... With a great Payne's singing, and a great Pitrelli's guitar melodies).

Conclusion: I think this a very good melodic hard rock album... With a lot of enjoyable songs, with catchy choruses and a brilliant musicianship. But not really progressive or symphonic... So although I think this album is very good, I have to low the rating down. Nevertheless, I strongly recommend Aria to every 80's AOR lover, and to all the Asia's fan, both the Wetton or Payne's ones!

My rating: ***

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars Are you big enough for another one?

While the previous Aqua could be seen as something of a transitional album from the classic 80's Asia to the 90's Geoff Downes-led Asia, Aria was really the first album on which Downes and Payne would feel comfortable in leading the band. On Aqua three of the four original members of the band were still involved with Carl Palmer drumming and Steve Howe appearing as a guest on several tracks. Here only Downes remains from the original line up. The late 80's/early 90's were very turbulent times for Asia with members coming and going all the time. From this point on the line up would be relatively stable.

Aria is possibly the best representative of the Payne-era and one of the most consistent albums Asia produced after the original line up split. The strong point of Aria is that it sounds like it was made by a full band instead of merely as a project run by Downes and Payne (which was the case for many other Asia albums of the 90's and 00's). The sound is fuller and the album is very well produced. Vocally, I think that Payne does a great job here, with his passionate vocal performance being another strong point of the album. Aria is therefore a suite album title continuing the long tradition of album titles beginning and ending with the letter A (Asia, Alpha, Astra, Aqua, Aria, etc.) Roger Dean is once again on board here with a nice cover art picture (though, very far from his better works).

The music of Aria rocks harder than most other Asia albums and the guitar work is better than on any other post- Steve Howe Asia album. This is yet another strong point here. There is really no need to comment on individual songs, since they fit nicely into a formula. But one nice thing is that the melody from Desire is repeated at the end of the last track, giving the album the feel of being a complete whole.

However, it takes some effort to get over the ultra-cheesy Anytime where the clichéd chorus line 'Anytime that you want me, anytime that you need me' followed by a cheesy trumpet-like fanfare played on keyboards! It is not something that I would play loud while having friends in the house! Overall, the lyrics is the weakest point of this album as with most Asia albums.

By no means an essential release, but good enough and very good by Asia's standards!

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Why it feels like being devil's advocate to give this high rating ? There's one big problem. These Asia album's sounds very similar one to another, it's quite hard to rate them. What is this saying, like "egg to egg" ? On the other hand, this helps a little bit. You can start from average rating and add (+) or (-) for these remarkable/shame songs. But with one problem solved, another arise instantly. Is this average 2, or 3 ? I think that 2.5, so then it's up to reviewer to give this better, or worse.

It's hard to imagine someone giving this 5 stars, don't you think ? But speaking of which (good things) "Desire" sounds good to me. Not perfect, but much better than gray, average rest. Indeed, it sounds better than other albums, but would it be so bad to call it "just another Asia album" ? Probably would, because another track, "Don't Cut the Wire" has nice ending guitar solo. "Feels Like Love" on the other hand can catch you with beautiful intro. I would laugh if this shouldn't be a serious business.

Someone wise once said that it's easy to rate albums you like, because you're overwhelmed with feelings and also those you hate, because you will find every mistake made here. But average ones are difficult task to do. 3 stars and I leave in confusion.

Review by JLocke
3 stars After the year-long Aqua tour was over with, the true beginning of the John Payne era had begun for Asia. Where as the previous release had been more-or-less a collection of left-overs from already existing material, Geoff Downes was determined to make an album in which everybody from the current line-up of the band had equal input. The result was Aria, and actually, it wasn't all that bad.

By this point in Asia's history, Steve Howe and Carl Palmer had split ''for good'' (at least until they realized they could cash in by rejoining the group several years later). So the only founding member of the band to still be a part of things during this era was Geoff Downes. He's on top of his game as always on this record, and regardless of who is or isn't present on these recordings, this is still some of the best Pop music you're likely to hear from the 90s. There is still a lot of that 80s-style, echoing production, but you can tell the Asia sound is moving into more modern territory. Never ones to really repeat themselves, I commend the band for carrying on like this. It's very similar to the situation Yes found themselves in when Howe left town to form this very band. Now that he was on the move yet again, two terrific bands were left in his wake. Both of them decided to carry on without him, and both of them continued their success for a fair amount of years after that.

The composition is simple and subdued quite a bit, here, like Asia always has been, really. So if you're not into this style of music (thundering, slightly cheesy pop music), I don't think the line-up different during this era is going to make much of a difference. The music itself is enjoyable to me, but purely Prog Rock it is not. However, the experimental, symphonic influences remain to a certain extent. In a way, it's sort of a crazy hybrid between the pop hits of the time and the more unusual compositions of the band's forefathers. Quite nice, really.

I think if you enjoyed Asia's music prior to these Palmer-less years, you're still going to enjoy what the band has to offer. It's clear on this recording that all of the people involved were dedicated to producing some truly interesting, majestic music. I was actually quite surprised at how much I enjoyed the music inside despite the loss of all but one of the original members. Downes deserves a lot of credit here for keeping this moving forward, and the end result of his efforts will please most fans of the band's early days, I believe. This isn't like Genesis' radical change of direction after Gabriel and Hackett left. For the most part, the quality seems to have not suffered as a result of the departure of key players-- at least not on this one. I have yet to dive in to all of the band's catalogue, so i can only comment on what i have already heard. Aria is an interesting, beautiful, above-par Pop album that will bring a smile to your face and a groove in your stride, if you allow it to. Change in lineup be damned; this is a worthy addition to your Asia collection.

Happy listening.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars Second CD of Asia with John Payne on vocals, with a now stable line up (in comes Michael Sturgis, replacing Carl Palmer). This album did not quite pleased me as much as its precedor Aqua. The production is very dated: its fat sound reminding me too much of the 80´s. It´s my only complaint, though, since the album has the usual excellent songwriting standards and the brilliant perfomances of all involved. it´s certainly heavier than before, while totally in the AOR/melodic rock mode. The combination of power playing (enhanced by Al Pitrelli´s obvious tendency for metal and the hard hitting Sturgis), absolutely excellent keyboards (Downes in fine form here!) and very nice melodies make songs like Summer, Remembrance Day and Enough´s Enough quite memorable and captivating. The ballad Feels Like Love is also helped by the new, thunderous sound.

Payne´s voice may a bit too much of the kind, but so what? The guy does know how to do the job right. And if you´re and AOR fan, you just can´t miss this one. Geoff Downes makes all the different in the style, and he is responsible for the best and most progressive touches in the CD, with very tasteful interventions.

Once again I must not give this CD more than 3 stars here since the album has little progressiveness in it. But be warned: quality wise, for a melodic rock album, this is a 4 or even 5 stars affair. Quite addictive, in fact.

Review by stefro
1 stars The second of Asia's early 1990s comeback albums and their fifth overall, 'Aria' finds the once-successful British outfit producing another slickly-produced set of earnestly-manifested pop-rock tunes for their quickly diminishing following, albeit by now the group weren't even close to the mainstream. With the international focus firmly on Nirvana, Seattle and Grunge, the music of Asia wasn't really needed in the world 1995, yet produce an album they did, under the guise of final original member Geoff Downes and recent additions John Payne(bass, vocals), Al Pitrelli(guitar) and Michael Sturgis(drums). However, despite those various changes in personel, 'Aria' sticks resolutely to the sound conjured up on 1982's hugely-successful 'Asia', the group's popular debut album that dominated North American rock radio during that summer, and the musically-similar yet commercially-disappointing sequels 'Alpha' and 'Astra' that followed in it's early-eighties wake. As a result, distinguishing between Asia records has always been a difficult task for non-aficianado's, though in spite of the group's many unattractive qualities there are at least two strong reasons why 1982's debut is a better album than this mid-nineties affair. Firstly, 'Asia' was issued during arguably the peak of North America's 'soft-rock years'(dominated by the likes of Journey, Air Supply and Foreigner) thus fitting them nicely in to the current trend; secondly, the Asia line-up of 1982 featured some of the cream of the 1970's progressive rock crop, with Downes augmented by Yes guitarist Steve Howe, ELP-drummer Carl Palmer and former King Crimson and Family bassist-and-vocalist John Wetton. That apart however, the difference between Asia albums - whether they be produced during the eighties, the nineties or even now during the 13th year of the 21st century - is pretty negligible. 'Aria', just like 'Astra' or 'Aqua' or any other of there A-word titled albums, features precious music that would interest proper, dedicated progressive rock listeners. Briefly, Asia made a bit of cash for its hard-working participants, sold a few albums and enjoyed a few months in the sun. The actual music though - which is best summed up by the hit 1982 single 'Heat Of The Moment' - has absolutely nothing in common with the sounds of Yes, ELP and King Crimson. Asia were, simply put, a progressive charade dressed up in classy Roger Dean artwork. Outside of their immediate fanbase, there won't be many who enjoy their brand of anthemic-yet-empty pop-rock. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2013

Latest members reviews

2 stars One of the most awkward sounding releases I have heard from the band. The tracks sound really disjointed at times and the album as a whole does not work very well. The only real thing that saves the album is the high quality of the poppy tracks, which is fairly clean when listening to this a ... (read more)

Report this review (#308629) | Posted by Jazzywoman | Saturday, November 6, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars "Aria" is unfortunately not one of the best albumd'Asia, its score of 3 stars is probably high on account of the first title of the album "Anytime" is a perfect success of Pop Progressive Rock Fm. "Are You Big Enough" is already a title that is not up. Geoff Downes is featured here in a group wit ... (read more)

Report this review (#235519) | Posted by Discographia | Friday, August 28, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The second album in the Payne-era has maybe the heaviest Asia-sound ever. Although the songs are mostly very simple, the album works great as a whole, because all of the tracks are based around a feeling and the children motif is to be found on the first and last track as well. 1. Anytime: Fa ... (read more)

Report this review (#202176) | Posted by Diaby | Monday, February 9, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This is where Asia kinda loses me... Yes, THIS is where they kinda lose me... Hey, Don't make that smirky face at me! I realize that Asia stopped breaking (any semblance of) new ground after their debut-- but at least I still felt that their studio albums continued to be fairly entertaining ... (read more)

Report this review (#123172) | Posted by altaeria | Wednesday, May 23, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars After "Aqua" I was expecting more melodic pop/rock, but this time the band changed its style of music again and delivers a good hard rock album. Not a great album, but still a good album. Highlights on this album include "Summer", "Feels Like Love", "Military Man" and the beautiful closing tr ... (read more)

Report this review (#71095) | Posted by zaxx | Saturday, March 4, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Completely different from the other stuff of the band, Aria is a more metal prog album than classical AOR. Nevrtheless, it's for me the first time since the eponymous album that Asia is trying something new and success in. It's a powerful album with great guitars thanx to Al Pitrelli (ex-Alice ... (read more)

Report this review (#26820) | Posted by | Tuesday, March 8, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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