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Articles Home » 1994 Articles » Asia - 1994 Aria
Asia - 1994 Aria

LABEL: Bulletproof
YEAR: 1994
CD REISSUE: 2005, InsideOut, IOMCD 218


LINEUP: Geoff Downes - keyboards * John Payne - vocals, bass * Al Pitrelli - guitars * Mike Sturgis - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Anytime * 02 Are You Big Enough * 03 Desire * 04 Summer * 05 Sad Situation * 06 Don't Cut The Wire * 07 Feels Like Love * 08 Remembrance Day * 09 Enough's Enough * 10 Military Man * 11 Aria


1994 saw yet another chapter in the book written by Geoff Downes and Asia. The sole survivor of the original band, Geoff had previously acquired ex C.C.C.P singer and bassist John Payne on Asia's previous album 'Aqua'. Payne's Greg Lake and Bob Catley styled vocals (and bass playing abilities) became a perfect partnership. Also joining the band were New York guitarist Al Pitrelli (previously with Hot Shot and Alice Cooper) and transplanted Miami native to London - drummer Michael Sturgis (ex A-Ha and 21 Guns). 'Aria' is the result, and it is, next to 1985's 'Astra', their most hardest rocking album of all their discography. I love what they achieved on this platter, such a big sounding album, and some of the songs make for essential listening!

The Songs
For me, it doesn't get better than the opening track 'Anytime'. A near-perfect melodic rock track that continues to get regular airplay from this listener at least - to this day. 'Are You Big Enough' is a hangover from those over-produced eighties glory days, the nifty Trevor Rabin like guitar parts from Al Pitrelli giving this one a Yes like feel from their 'Big Generator' era. Pitrelli also gets to shine on the dark sounding heavy-hitter 'Desire', but conversely is introvert on the light and breezy 'Summer', where acoustic guitars rule the roost. Those ever-present synth layers from Downes sets the scene for 'Sad Situation', the strutting guitars and staggered vocal lines makes this track compulsory listening. Payne is the 'go-to man' on 'Don't Cut The Wire', his vocals taking on an urgent sounding delivery. However he comes into his own on the staggeringly good 'Feels Like Love', the albums 'piece-de-resistance'. Get lost in the ambience of this track, it really is good. Cowboys, Indians, and a war theme is the tale told on ' Remembrance Day', a pretty good hard rocker nonetheless with some very cool bass lines from Payne. 'Enough's Enough' is more atmospheric AOR with a rich chorus though the happy-sounding handclaps are.. errm.. interesting. As you would expect with a song title such as 'Military Man', the tone is all about war and its circumstances, the music powerful and dramatic. The album ends with an orchestral ballad, the title track 'Aria'.. just for something different.

In Summary
Some very good songs here, the album appealing more to hard rock fans than prog I suspect. Unfortunately this superb line-up did not last the distance. Sturgis moved on to Psycho Motel and Wishbone Ash. Pitrelli hooked up with Savatage while Downes and Payne changed the sound of the band for the next album 'Arena', and in the process making it less interesting for many, myself included. Not to diss the band, because they left this hard rock/pomp masterpiece behind. One of the better albums from 1994.

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#1 | trillion1999 on October 25 2011 13:39:10
Though I love the voice of John Wetton.I love the song Two Sides Of The Moon from Arena.Would you say Aria followed by Aqua might serve as the ideal introduction for appreciating the John Payne-Asia?I would like to give everything by Asia a chance.
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