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Asia - Archiva 2 CD (album) cover




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1.88 | 41 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars A plethora of ballads

This is the second of two collections of outtakes and advanced demos which did not make it onto the bands official releases. As such, this album is very much for fans/collectors only. The period covered by both this collection and Archiva 1 is the late 80's and early 90's when the band recorded the first three albums ( "Aqua", "Aria" and "Arena") of the Payne era. As with "Volume 1", the quality of the music here is understandably variable.

While a few of the tracks are near to the standard of those which appeared on the three albums, it can be pretty clear at times why others were left off. "Archiva 1" is notably the better collection, the tracks on "Archiva 2" being generally dull and run of the mill.

Among the more notable tracks is "Showdown", a rare cover version by the band of a Jeff Lynne track which was a hit single for the Eclectic Light Orchestra. Payne had been involved in the post Lynne ELO Part 2 project, and he and Downes felt the track would be appropriate for the "Arena" album. Due to "musical differences within the band" however, the track was dropped. The version here is certainly inferior to the ELO originals (there is an early ELO variant called "All over the world").

"The Smoke That Thunders" was the first demo recorded for the "Arena" album. It was originally intended that Carl Palmer drum on the track, but as he was unavailable, samples were taken from the "Aqua" album, and "overdubbed in Palmer's style". He is thus credited as being the drummer on this track! It was also intended originally that a vocal be added, but this was never done, the track remaining an instrumental. It has close similarities to the "Sorcerer" track by the Eagles on "One of these nights", which was used as the theme to the "Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy" TV series.

"Armenia" is probably the best of this bunch. It is a pleasant instrumental of drifting guitar featuring Steve Howe. It was written for, but not used on, the Armenian earthquake charity album. "That season" is another strong piece, being a delicate, melodic track, which almost made it onto the "Arena" album.

A couple of the tracks here, "Moon Under The Water" and "Satellite blues" ended up appearing on Downes solo album, "Vox Humana", but both are dull and unadventurous. Many of the remaining songs are average pop rock, or pop rock ballads. The band's comment about the track "The right to cry" says that it was a contender for the Arena album, but was omitted as it was too similar to other ballads already included. The evidence of this is clear on "Archiva 2", which is rather over-laden with such tracks.

Those who enjoy the music of the early Payne era Asia, will find a few tracks here which are worthy of their attention. In general though, this is a sub-standard collection of songs which were rightly omitted from Asia's official releases.

The packaging includes brief but informative sleeve notes for each track, together with details of who performs on them. A budget double CD collection is now available which brings together the two "Archiva" albums in a single package.

Easy Livin | 2/5 |


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