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Astra Original recording reissued

4.1 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording reissued, February 14, 1995
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 14, 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued
  • Label: Universal Special Products
  • ASIN: B000002QMB
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,692 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By A Customer on August 18, 1999
Format: Audio CD
When John Wetton was unexpectedly replaced by Greg Lake, I expected Asia's 3rd album to include him. Not only was the '83 live show not released as an album (only a video) but when their 3rd studio album materialized, Wetton had suddenly returned-- while Steve Howe had gone! Roger Dean's stark mechanoid cover painting accurately reflects the album's contents; guitarist Mandy Meyer brings a harsh, hard sound to replace Howe's warmth.
As with ALPHA, the first half of ASTRA are all among my favorite Asia tunes. The powerful "Go", the melodic "Voice Of America", the highly-charged "Hard On Me", the emotional "Wishing" and the epic "Rock And Roll Dreams". But Side 2 was a serious nosedive. Perhaps "Countdown To Zero" was a reflection of a band falling apart-- and "After The War" appropriately ends with the musical equivalent of a A-bomb being dropped. The rest is too downbeat, and oddly enough ASTRA reflects almost exactly ELO's final album, BALANCE OF POWER, released about the same time. But I guess half an album worth of greatness is more than most bands deliver, and that still makes this worth buying.
But what FOOL screwed up the track running order on the CD? (You have to "program" it if you want to play the 10 songs in the original order!)
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Format: Audio CD
I never bought this album when it first came out in 1985. I was foolish enough to listen to what I heard "on the streets", as it were. Everything I heard was negative, it was bland, boring, bad, etc. So, even though I loved the first two albums, I gave this one a pass (hey, give me a break, I was still in high school at the time). That was the end of my association with Asia for a long time.
Flash forward to June, 2001. I had recently "discovered" the 90s Asia, and decided to go ahead and pick up Astra to complete the set. Oh man, was I misinformed! Astra is an excellent album, if not quite as good as Asia and Alpha (but then, what is?) Go, Countdown to Zero, Voice of America, Hard on Me, Too Late, After the War - Quintessential Asia songs all! I should have disregarded the reviews and picked it up back in '85 - I lost 15 years of appreciation for this gem. It's a little different sounding from Alpha, mainly because of the loss of Steve Howe and the acquisition (regrettably short-lived) of Mandy Meyer. I guess my only complaint about the CD is similar to what others have said - the recording quality leaves something to be desired. This album is crying out for a remaster. But, don't let that stop you from buying it! Yes, Go, Voice of America, and Too Late are all present (and much better sounding) on the 2000 Very Best of Asia release. But, there are other great songs on here worth a listen. Don't make the same mistake I did - pick it up!
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Format: Audio CD
Asia's debut was a landmark event in music history, not because of the music's excellence alone, but because it was the closest a true masterpiece came to receiving an proportional number of album sales. The follow-up, Alpha (which was still great, albeit comparatively light and repetitive), also fared well commercially. And then, well, one of the most unappreciated albums ever. . . Astra. . .
Asia's third album contains the same basic sound as had its predecessors, with a level of songwriting that ought to meet, quite possibly to exceed, expectations. (The recording quality, however, is not as good as it could be.) From the majestic keyboard opening of "Go" to the climactic ending of "After the War," this album is pure, quintessential Asia. Layers of symphonic instrumentation mesh with Wetton's pleasant, melodic vocals in a surge of euphony and harmony, energizing and elating the listener. Somehow, the music's eudaemonic tone prevails even through the resentfully mournful "After the War" and "Countdown to Zero," which nearly succeeds in its attempt at melancholy and acerbity. That diacritical Asia sound (see musically-ignorant pythia's vague definition) saturates every song, yet without the songs' sounding like facsimiles of one another. Despite the almost orchestral feel of the music, it is erroneous to apply the progressive rock label to Astra--the album being poppy and straightforward relative to the genre's typical associations. Even the longest track, "Rock and Roll Dream" (a fitting title), remains engaging throughout, never lapsing into pretentious nothingness. Astra (indeed, the Wetton-era Asia triptych as a whole) is best categorized as AOR in its most elevated form.
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Format: Audio CD
Asia's third album in 1985 by prog masters is one of their finest achievements so far. Although it produced only top 50 hit GO, the album has full of excellent tracks that could not only represent John Wetton's excellent songwriting but rival some of the 80's melodic rock masterpieces such as Vital Signs (Survivor), Escape (Journey) and Isolation (Toto). GO is the typical Asia's pop hard rock anthem and Hard On Me, Rock And Roll Dream and After the War show their trademark dynamism deriving from their progressive rock background. Also excellent power ballads such as Suspicion and Wishing would satisfy Journey or Foreigner appreciators. Asia nearly disintegrated with John Wetton leaving the band and yet to regain the status during 80s. But since then they held on with huge support by Japanese and European melodic pop rock fans.
Recommended for 80's pop rock fans and particularly Survivor, Journey and John Wetton fans would enjoy.
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