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Articles Home » 1985 Articles » Asia - 1985 Astra
Asia - 1985 Astra

ALBUM: Astra
LABEL: Geffen
SERIAL: 924 072-1
YEAR: 1985
CD REISSUE: 1990, Geffen, GED24072


LINEUP: John Wetton - vocals, bass * Geoff Downes - keyboards * Carl Palmer - drums * Armand 'Mandy' Meyer - guitars

TRACK LISTING: 01 Go * 02 Voice Of America * 03 Hard On Me * 04 Wishing * 05 Rock And Roll Dream * 06 Countdown To Zero * 07 Love Now Till Eternity * 08 Too Late * 09 Suspicion * 10 After The War


It still puzzles me why this album did not embed itself into the hearts and minds of melodic rock fans back in 1985. And also the apparent failure of this album to do well in the charts, following on from their boom albums 'Asia' and 'Alpha' a few years earlier. 'Astra' is technically and sonically brilliant. Way ahead of those two aforementioned albums, and an album that John Wetton himself declared as the best thing he's ever done. I agree wholeheartedly. Wetton rejoined the band after his departure during 1983 in which Greg Lake temporarily took over. Steve Howe shot through and was in the throes of putting GTR together with Steve Hackett. Therefore Mandy Meyer got the callup from the defunct US band Cobra and 'Astra' was born.

The Songs
Production wise this album is so overblown it's a pompsters fantasy! Of course, just the sheer fact that Mike Stone is involved is enough to whet the appetite. Just take a listen to epics such as 'Rock And Roll Dream', 'Countdown To Zero' and 'After The War' and you very soon get the picture. For me personally I can't get enough of songs like the AOR radio friendly 'Too Late', 'Go', 'Voice Of America' or the softer 'Wishing' and 'Suspicion', all deserving of quality air-time on your home stereo! Though Meyer's involvement was less from a solo perspective, I would suggest that if he'd been given more reign, this album probably would've been rated a 10 out of 10.

In Summary
Along with Bryan Adams and 'Reckless' and Michael Bolton's 'Everybodys Crazy', this is where AOR was at in 1985, but obviously the listening public wanted to listen to something completely different: either Duran Duran or Def Leppard! Oh well, these albums are things of legend. Let time tell the story and let this be remembered and treasured, as usually all excellent and legendary AOR albums sink like a stone! (don't they??)

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#1 | Eric on April 20 2007 22:31:13
The last great-all-the-way-through Asia album and definitly one of the top 10 records of that year. An improvement over 'Alpha' which leaned a little too much towards pop and filler. I only wish they had kept up the quality on further releases, but it was not to be...
#2 | jeffduran on March 16 2008 19:09:40
Couldn't agree more! This is an excellent release and one of my favorites of the band! 'Go' and 'Voice Of America' are killer cuts.
#3 | LALOROCK on May 01 2010 20:37:48
Great album,Too Late, what a song! melodic hooks and those drums..., a wet dream for any melodic rock fan,all the songs are amazing.
#4 | trillion1999 on October 18 2011 21:18:04
I love love
#5 | code4 on October 23 2015 13:47:07
A nice return to a decent sound quality after Alpha. Well, i know many of us can appreciate a flat 80's production but i was disappointed about the production of Alpha for the reason that i felt that the songs and performances were amazing (particularly Geoff Downes' keyboards) yet almost completely buried by the production. With that, Astra becomes my favourite. Was a bit worried at the start the first time i heard it when that decidedly metal like guitar scurried in as that type of metal playing is not really my cup of tea as of yet in my musical journey, but it never returns and instead Astra is an album that fans of the previous records should enjoy and perhaps particularly dedicated AOR fans. Nearly all songs on this are excellent. My least favourite would be 'Countdown to zero' (don't really like the chorus)- even if i do enjoy the spoken word break which is both super cheesy and cool at the same time, and 'Suspicion' which seems to lack much in the way of a chorus. Still i wouldn't call them actual filler.

Unfortunately, i didn't do my homework and had to buy this cd twice as the currently in print version is not a reprint of the original geffen cd but instead alters the track order, has no lyrics like the geffen cd versions do and also (though this is being super trivial relating to no doubt OCD connected collector traits) has ASIA - ASTRA / ASTRA / ASTRA written on the spine (vs the geffen cd which just says ASIA - ASTRA more agreeably). Why write it three times? especially when they seem to be trying to save on ink by not printing lyrics
#6 | super80boy on July 16 2016 14:08:47
The band definitely keeps some of their trademarks intact, like the sweeping arena-like melodies heard on opener 'Go' and 'Love Now Till Eternity'. Also, the progressive touches are on display in the standout 'Countdown To Zero'. 'Too Late' and 'Hard On Me' are great, I believe the latter was written to be an album single but never achieved such status. Even with the member changes, ASIA was still hitting on all cylinders.
#7 | melodiapositiva on February 02 2017 18:23:46
Astra should be in any AOR collection, it's a must have. Geoff Downes is impressive as always, listen to the last part of Rock And Roll Dream or the intro of Love Now Till Eternity, just amazing! and he doesn't need long solos to show his virtuosity. His keyboards are always in the background creating beautiful atmospheres. Mandy Meyer does the same good work as Sam Coulson does on Gravity, but nothing spectacular .
Of course John sings as good as always and also Carl with his drums.
It's sad that AOR nowadays hasn't anything in common with albums like this. Each song has something different and special. Today all sound the same, the magic is lost. Long live the 80's Shock
#8 | rostoned on February 13 2017 19:46:32
In Europe and UK (only?) there was a 12 inch release of a remix version of Go, done by Geoff Downes, which lasted around 8 minutes. The single featured also an instrumental version of it which to this day remains unreleased on CD, while the main remix appeared for the first and only time so far on CD on the 2006 Geffen release "The Definitive Collection".
#9 | jeffrey343 on March 21 2018 16:38:51
I honestly cannot remember whether I actually bought this album back in 1985. It would have been November or December, when I was a sophomore in college. I know I heard it - quite possibly a friend recorded it onto a cassette. Like Alpha, it didn't blow me away. I had a few other albums that were impressing me more. But I've been playing this and Alpha a lot the past two weeks, and it is very good. Sometimes I don't know what my late teenage self was thinking...
#10 | englandashes on March 21 2018 18:42:40
My favourite Asia album, I remember catching the bus with my mum, and going to Bedford and buying from Woolworths of all places......
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