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Asia Aura album cover
3.28 | 184 ratings | 18 reviews | 27% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2000

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Awake (6:08)
2. Wherever You Are (5:14)
3. Ready To Go Home (4:50)
4. The Last Time (4:56)
5. Forgive Me (5:26)
6. Kings Of The Day (6:51)
7. On The Coldest Day In Hell (6:25)
8. Free (8:51)
9. You're The Stranger (6:05)
10. The Longest Night (5:28)
11. Aura (4:14)

Total time 64:28

Bonus Tracks on 2000 SE:
12. Under The Gun (4:48)
13. Come Make My Day (5:01)
14. Hands Of Time (5:23)

Line-up / Musicians

- Guthrie Govan / guitar (1-3,5-7,9,10)
- Geoffrey Downes / keyboards
- John Payne / bass, guitars, lead & backing vocals
- Chris Slade / drums (2,12-14)

- Ian Crichton / guitar (4,8,12-14)
- Steve Howe / guitar (4,8)
- Pat Thrall / guitar (8)
- Elliott Randall / guitar (9,11)
- Tony Levin / bass (3)
- Gary Liederman / bass (?)
- Michael Sturgis / drums (1,5,7,9,11)
- Vinnie Colaiuta / drums (3,4,10)
- Simon Phillips / drums (6,8)
- Luis Jardim / percussion
- Neil Lockwood / backing vocals
- David Grant's Gospel Choir / chorus vocals (1,3)

Releases information

Artwork: Roger Dean

LP Recognition ‎- LPREC501 (2000, Europe)

CD Recognition Records ‎- CDREC501 (2000, Europe)
CD Universal ‎- CDRECX501 (2000, Europe) Limited edition with 3 bonus tracks

Thanks to Lucas for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ASIA Aura ratings distribution

(184 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(27%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(30%)
Good, but non-essential (26%)
Collectors/fans only (10%)
Poor. Only for completionists (8%)

ASIA Aura 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
4 stars Asia go for Gold

Quite a soft album for the Asia brand, well away from the work of the early super-group, and even from more recent albums such as "Aria". "Aura "is though, a fine album with much to recommend it.

The first three tracks are probably the best, kicking off with "Awake". There's an uplifting, spiritual feel to this track, complete with choral vocals. The following 2 tracks, plus several others are written by Graham Gouldman (ex 10CC) and Andrew Gold who record together in their own right as "Wax". "Wherever you are" is a good pop/soft rock song (prog it ain't!). "Ready to go home" is a power ballad, and for me the best track on the album. It has an almost hymnal feel, the lyrics being reflective, but positive. The line which goes "When time has run its course for me and I'm ready to go home" puts a lump in my throat every time. Strange as it may seem to say, this song would be perfect for a prog funeral.

There are other worthy tracks, especially "Free", the longest and most progressive song on the album. The only relatively weak moment is the instrumental title track, which is a basic guitar jazz-rock piece.

The digipak release has 3 bonus tracks not included on the standard version, which are well up to the standard of the rest of the album.

Review by Fishy
3 stars In 2000 there seem to be a rumor there would be a reunion of the original members of Asia. The reunion didn't suceed, in 2001 Asia re-appeared as a duo with the original member Geoff Downes on the keyboards and John Payne on the vocals along with a lot of session musicians like Ian Crichton from Saga, Elliott Randal, Tony Levin and original guitarist Steve Howe amongst many others. Cover artist Roger Dean did a fine job in creating another masterpiece which refers to Alpha, the second Asia record. On Aura the band sounds more FM-orientated as ever. No more heavy Aor riffs here, but a bunch of tasteful melodic (soft)pop songs. Strange enough this album has 2 covers of 10 CC in the tracklisting : "whenever you are" and "ready to go home". Is the well of inspiration is getting dry ? If you don't know the original versions you couldn't tell the difference between these songs and the rest of the tracks. This album is surely enjoyable but don't expect a real progressive rock album. Aura sounds as an album from Mike + the mecanics with much more keyboards. But also the guitars are doing a fine job here which isn't a surprise as you know that Asia uses the skills of 5 guitarist of world fame. Fans of progressive rock will like "Free" the only epic on this album. The instrumental title track is also fine and reminds me of the first solo effort of Downes. The real surprise of this album are the extra tracks which were originally intended to get a new record deal. "Come make my day" and "Hands of time" may lack the excellent sound quality of the Aura-tracks but they sound as Asia used to sound in the eighties, great songs ! Most of the other music of the album is sounding to easy and soft for progressive rock fans.
Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars I don't understand the average rating of this album, but anyway, I also don't understand Quantum Physics (and both, I guess I never will.)

I'll be honest, I don't own any other ASIA albums but this one (and I guess I never will); I haven't even heard any other music by ASIA but the one on this album (and I guess I never will), so my opinion will be absolutely, 100% based on this, my first-ever ASIA album (and I guess my last, too.)

At last I will fulfill my promise of writing my shortest review ever. I've started reviews with that sentence more than a couple of times, never actually having done it. But there's no way I could go past three or four paragraphs with AURA, the lone ASIA album in my collection (and I guess it will always be the lone one).

This music is just completely uninspired, completely mundane, completely repetitive, completely un-prog to be even considered for a song-by-song review. I just can't think of any real standout track on the whole album (and I guess I never will.)

The music? Pop-rock with just hints, read HINTS of prog. And by hints I mean: elements so few, so far between, so SECRET, that it's very easy to even ignore they are actually there. In fact, if I hadn't known which was the band playing the music when I heard it, I wouldn't have thought they were part of the Archives (and I guess I never will.)

Don't get me wrong: there's some instrumental talent in these band members: we know Vinnie Colaiuta is a great drummer (though from hearing this album I guess you'd never think so), Steve Howe played in Yes (though just from what we heard on this album, I guess you would never believe it); in general, all are talented musicians, but the kind of music they chose to play is so...mediocre. Yes, that's the word. Average. Mediocre. Nothing. I can't remember any single moment in the album where I found myself saying "there's some interesting music right here!". I couldn't find one (and I guess I never will.)

So, I'll be a little politically-incorrect and call Asia's AURA from what I think it is: ELEVATOR- PROG-MUSIC. Nothing else, nothing less.

And that's an elevator I don't think I'll ever want to rclimb on (and I guess, to my surprise, i never will).

Not Recommended for: fans of progressive-rock music that actually want some "prog" in their music without having to hire the services of a FBI investigator and a Egyptian-Tombs archeologist to find any hint of it.

Recommended for: well, fans of Good Old Elevator-Music played by former prog- musicians...

...Maybe their other albums are fantastic. Right now I don't want to find out.... (and I guess.. you know the drill.)

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
1 stars The end of an aura

Aura continues on the path started with the previous album, Arena, towards a more lightweight and much less hard edged sound. By the time of the release of this album, Asia was reduced to a Geoff Downes and John Payne project with all other roles played by session musicians. Admittedly it is an impressive list of session players, but the band feeling that was present on albums like Aria and the classic debut is completely left behind here. This results in a serious lack of punch. If you listen to Aria, Silent Nation, or the track The Day Before The War from the Arena album, and compare that with the music of Aura, you will understand what I think is missing on this album.

I will not deny that the songs are well written and that the album is well recorded and, indeed, that everything is very well executed here from vocals to production. But this is somehow too perfect, the result is far too "glossy" and commercial for my tastes. In terms of Prog content, this is close to empty. This is nothing but a very well crafted, Pop album, plain and simple. The Rock edge of earlier efforts is gone.

One major problem lies in the rhythm section. The drums are rather boring and sterile. Thankfully, they don't use drum machines here, but sometimes you wonder whether it is human being or a robot sitting behind the drum kit! I also think that the keyboards are too stale and comes off as sterile. This framework does not leave room for the more organic and dynamic band sound that I like about (progressive) rock music. The sound of Aura therefore becomes somewhat artificial, I think.

The lead guitar work is great when it is present, but there is not a lot of it here and when it finally arrives it somehow feels out of place among all the Pop sensibilities. Steve Howe plays on the album, but his presence can be felt only very slightly, his distinctive guitar sound is there only on a few tracks and when it arrives it is quenched by the restrictive framework of the music leaving him and the other guitarists no room to breathe. Don't expect anything like Howe's contribution to previous Asia albums. Even on Aqua, where Howe also is merely a guest, his presence was stronger than it is here.

If there are any stand out tracks on Aura at all it will have to be the ballad Ready To Go Home. The longest track, Free, is slightly progressive, and a decent song. For the band's hard core fans, this album will still be worth seeking out, I guess. But if you are a fan of progressive Rock in general and want to look into the Payne-era of Asia, I would certainly not recommend you to start with this album. Indeed, for me this is the least good Asia album, period!

Aura was also the last Asia album to have a title beginning and ending with the letter A and also the last Payne-era album to have a cover art picture by the great Roger Dean. In those two respects this constituted the end of en era, or should I perhaps say an end of an aura? However, there would be one further Payne-fronted Asia album in Silent Nation, which is a much better album than Aura.

Review by Gooner
3 stars First and foremost, I consider myself a fan of Asia(all line-ups). Yes, I have taken into context that this is not the Asia of the first 3 albums(having more line-up changes than Deep Purple and Uriah Heep combined). It says a lot about a band when the best tracks on "Aura" are due to outside help from some prog.rock heavies like Ian Crichton of Saga, Steve Howe of Yes, Simon Phillips and Tony Levin. Graham Gouldman of 10cc helps out in the writing department as well. I wouldn't necessarily consider this an Asia album, but more of a collaboration between prog.rock stars in the "pop prog." genre. Consider this a super supergroup. :-) The first 3 tracks are melodic soft rock AOR that might even sound good on a regular rotation if this were the year 1987, although "Awake" is a real keeper with back-up choir near the conclusion. A fine start. "The Last Time"(which is the 4th track) is the best track here; where you can tell Howe and Crichton are present on guitar. "Free" is the most progressive track with some great keyboard work from Geoff Downes and the outside prog.rock "heavies" I had mentioned. The instrumental "Aura" has a sound not unlike Santana(more like the band Malo...Carlos Santana's brother "Jorge"'s band). Other than that, nothing else is a stand out. 1 of 3 bonus tracks on the Windstorm Records label re-issue called "Hands Of Time" is a real keeper. Sounds like a cross between modern Uriah Heep and the harmony vocals a la Spock's Beard). Good album and the best of the Payne-era. The album gets better with repeated listens as it reveals many subtleties. If you're a fan of the last 2 albums by Canadian band MYSTERY and dare I say BIG BIG TRAIN from the U.K.; Asia's "Aura" would appeal to you.
Review by Tarcisio Moura
2 stars Well, I was a little skeptical about this one from the very start: when I saw on the booklet that the band was now reduced to Geoff Downes and John Payne I knew I should not expect much. Besides, the number of guests musicians was stunning (13!). And that included former members Steve Howe, Eliott Randall and Pat Thrall, terrific prog musicians like Simon Phillips, Tony Levin and even Ian Crichton (Saga). All to no avail, since they are merely session players here and their styles rarely surfaces on this album (except of course for Howe´s guitar licks, but even then, very few times).

This is Asia on name only. It sounds like a John Payne solo album featuring Geoff Downes, or vice-versa. There is no team work here that you hear so well on albums like Silent Nation, Aria and Aqua (even if the latter was recorded with several musicians, it did sound like a band work). Arena was the beginning of the fall, I see now, and Aura is definitly their lowest. Not that is totally bad: it has some nice tracks, but the music here is pure pop, totally devoided of any edge. The rock element is missing much of the time and the prog aspect is almost nonexistent. the 8 minute long Free is probably the most interesting song on the album, followed by the first three tracks. And yet they are all below what we should expect from such seasoned and talented musicians.

Production is, of course, very good and clean, but the songs are not as strong as before. I´m really amazed that the three extra tracks are even more popier than the original album (thank god they were scrapped before they recorded another album). And it is even more incredible to think that the follow up of this weak album was one of their best, Silent Nation. Maybe the lesson was learned.

Conclusion: a real disappointment. Not totally bad, expecially if you like well played but simple pop songs. But probably Asia´s weakest efford ever. this one is surely for hardcore fans, collectors and completionists. NOT a good album to start if you´re a newsbie (this was the case of one reviewer here. Hey, The T, give them another chance!). 2 stars.

Review by progaeopteryx
2 stars Progressive Rock? Hah! Prog Related? Ummm... even that's a far stretch with Asia's Aura. The only thing prog related about this album is that Geoff Downes once played on Yes' Drama album and Steve Howe guests on a couple of tracks (althought I can barely even tell).

I really had high hopes for this album. After all, on their Arena album Asia actually took a stab at making some prog numbers: the neo prog numbers The Day Before the War and U Bring Me Down. Don't let the longer than usual times of the songs on Aura deceive you. These are basically AOR/pop rock songs with a few ballads thrown in giving this album a mediocre "sameness" almost throughout the whole thing. The longer times are a result of extending many of the songs longer than they needed to be (i.e., choruses that go on forever, etc.).

The only exception is the 8+ minute long song Free. It's one of the better tracks Asia has done, but it's really nothing to get excited about. There isn't really anything complicated about it at all and sounds much like a generic neo prog song that a typical neo prog band would use as filler.

For fans only. Others should seriously avoid.

Latest members reviews

3 stars This is a very good MELODIC ROCK album that gets a bit dragged down by its existing track order. In its original form, the album seems to suffer from too many similar mid-to-slow tempo songs one after another. However, if you re-sequence the tracks to create some ups and downs in the overall d ... (read more)

Report this review (#1165153) | Posted by altaeria | Friday, April 25, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Another fairly great Asia album, two in a row! Though most of the musicians from the debut are gone, Geoff Downes pulls it together with tons of session musicians and John Payne, who has stayed with the band since the 1992 release Aqua. This album is in the same vein as Asia's 1996 album, Ar ... (read more)

Report this review (#308647) | Posted by Jazzywoman | Saturday, November 6, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The best album from Asia? Unless for me it is, and the ratings on this great site seem to follow the same idea. Aura has the best and more progressive track that Asia was ever did: the track FREE. An almost 9 minutes epic which a modern prog rock feel, in the vein of Genesis post Abacab long p ... (read more)

Report this review (#300271) | Posted by genbanks | Thursday, September 23, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I find "Aura" to be a pleasing if not particularly "progressive" rock album. The thing I appreciate most about it is John Payne's voice. When "Aqua" debuted I found his singing over the top, representative of the heavy metal milieu. By the time of "Aura" Mr. Payne had learned restraint and many o ... (read more)

Report this review (#288049) | Posted by bdenim | Thursday, June 24, 2010 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Aura is the only album of Asia that I own, and it really makes me wonder how bad their other albums must be if this is rated highest here. I saw this album being in a bargain bin and knew Asia by name, that it had Wetton, Palmer, Howe and Downes. Then when I looked at the back cover I saw to my d ... (read more)

Report this review (#230306) | Posted by nikow | Friday, August 7, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Aura is perhaps ASIA's best album. I own many albums from this band and I must say this is the most beloved and played in my house. I can't say I'm a fan of Wetton's era or a fan of Payne's era. I enjoy both vocalists. This is, certainly, the best album with John Payne. Au ... (read more)

Report this review (#170168) | Posted by Sachis | Wednesday, May 7, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars yeah, this album is excellent. there's a really nice feeling and atmosphere throughout the album, which was probably helped by the collaboration between so many musicians. the art work goes really well with it too, and overrall, it's an excellent album. well worth buying, even if you didn't li ... (read more)

Report this review (#93585) | Posted by onslo | Friday, October 6, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars AURA is one of the best Asia's albums. Don't try to compare this album with Wetton's era. They are really different. This is for Payne's fans like me. You can find great songs, well composed by the Genious Payne and Downes. AURA is the first album with the great guitarrrist Govan. I think ... (read more)

Report this review (#78725) | Posted by gweyne | Friday, May 19, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Definitely the best Asia album of the Payne era... and probably the best Asia album ever. The sound is much softer here, with a clear taste for ballads and soft rock, but this time with no cheesy track at all. Highlights on this album would be the Ten CC cover "Ready To Go Home" (remixed with ... (read more)

Report this review (#71277) | Posted by zaxx | Monday, March 6, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is IT! It's got it all: atmosphere by the truckload, melody, rhythm, passion and that unmistakable ASIA-style. I liked it when I heard it first and the CD only grew on me after that. Two songs which stand out even more than the rest are 'Kings Of the Day' and 'The Last Time': they blew me ... (read more)

Report this review (#26843) | Posted by petervh | Sunday, July 11, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This has to be ASIA at its very best.I think its very different from other ASIA albums of the past, its got everything you could ask for from mellow haunting traks like Ready to go home to all out damn good heavy rock like FREE, which is my favourite track. I honestly believe that if the darkness ca ... (read more)

Report this review (#26840) | Posted by | Sunday, February 29, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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