GHS 24072 Astra
Produced by Mike Stone and Geoff Downes
Released on November 1985
UK CHART POSITION #68 . . . US CHART POSITION #67
Find it at GEMM
GHS 24072 cover  

I ’m actually more disappointed in Roger Dean for illustrating this album than Asia for making it, since no one really had high expectations after Alpha. But there was that album cover, and with a Pavlovian response born of countless Yes purchases I found myself leaving the store with Astra. It is a better record than Alpha, perhaps because the band had more time to write new material. The loss of guitarist Steve Howe isn’t the crushing blow it would seem, largely because replacement Mandy Meyer (of Krokus of course) is buried in the mix much as Howe was on their last record. Like Alpha, the songs are written almost exclusively by Geoff Downes and John Wetton (Carl Palmer gets a couple of cowriting credits) and go only so far as Wetton’s voice and Downes’ keyboards can carry them. No longer obsessed with failed romance, Wetton returns to his old topical haunts for aggressive numbers like “Go,” “After the War” and “Countdown to Zero.” There are still some wimpy ballads to watch out for - “Wishing” and “Hard on Me” in particular - but not all of the slow numbers are bad. “Love Now Till Eternity” is one of their best ballads, and “Voice of America” is wistful in a “Video Killed the Radio Star” way. Astra turned out to be the last album from Asia for a while, the band re-forming in 1990 with guitarist Pat Thrall replacing Meyer. A handful of tracks from here have since found their way into the band’s concert repertoire, including “Rock and Roll Dream,” which would seem to take a hard but honest appraisal of the band’s rock star status. Astra isn’t the precipitous drop in product that Alpha was, but it still finds the band stumped for a fitting follow-up to their debut.

GHS 24072 back cover GHS 24072 lyric sleeve
GHS 24072 back cover GHS 24072 lyric sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. GO    (John Wetton/Geoff Downes)    4:06
  2. VOICE OF AMERICA    (John Wetton/Geoff Downes)    4:26
  3. HARD ON ME    (John Wetton/Geoff Downes/Carl Palmer)    3:35
  4. WISHING    (John Wetton/Geoff Downes)    4:15
  5. ROCK AND ROLL DREAM    (John Wetton/Geoff Downes)    6:51
  6. COUNTDOWN TO ZERO    (John Wetton/Geoff Downes)    4:14
  7. LOVE NOW TILL ETERNITY    (John Wetton/Geoff Downes)    4:10
  8. TOO LATE    (John Wetton/Geoff Downes/Carl Palmer)    4:11
  9. SUSPICION    (John Wetton/Geoff Downes)    3:46
  10. AFTER THE WAR    (John Wetton/Geoff Downes)    5:09

CREDITS

GEOFF DOWNES -- keyboards
MANDY MEYER -- guitar
CARL PALMER -- drums
JOHN WETTON -- vocals and bass guitar
Louis Clark -- arrangement, orchestration, conductor (5)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra -- orchestra (5)
Asia -- mixing
Alan Douglas -- engineer, mixing
John David Kalodner -- executive producer
Greg Ladanyi -- mixing
Mike Stone -- engineer, mixing
Roger Dean -- artwork

return to ASIA discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK/NET November 1985 Geffen LP/CD/CS GEF/GED 26413 lyric sleeve
US November 1985 Geffen LP/CD/CS GHS 24072 lyric sleeve
ARG 1985? CBS LPPRO 20725 promotional release
US 1995 MCA CD MCAD-20851  
JPN   Geffen CDLE UICY-9125 limited edition, digitally remastered

 

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