Asia - Aura

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Recognition Records
Catalog Number: CDREC501
Format: CD
Total Time: 62:28:00

Did video really kill the radio star? Will DVD kill video? Or is CD-R killing "legal" CD, whilst MTV is killing music in general?

I'm convinced even the most diehard Asia fan can't sum up Asia's complete discography. Over the years tons of live sets and unreleased songs have been unleashed, each time having us think that the true spirit of Asia was back on the rails. For those of you only counting the "legal" albums, this is the band's seventh studio album with the nucleus of the band now being keyboard player Geoff Downes and singer, bass player John Payne. Produced by Marillion producer Simon Hanhart, the collection of new material has been recorded with a fine selection of musicians such as Steve Howe (Yes), Ian Crichton (Saga), Tony Levin, Simon Philips (Toto) and Chris Slade (Manfred Mann's Earthband) to name but a few. With songs written together with Andrew Gold and Graham Gouldman (10 CC), needless to say the music gets close to cleancut AOR, emphasizing vocal harmonies and guitar duties rather than elaborate keyboard interventions.

Neatly packaged in a Roger Dean sleeve, Aura certainly deserves its place next to some of the band's earlier, legendary titles. ?Ready To Come Home? is a powerful ballad incorporating some ?War Of The World? synths and David Grant's Gospel Choir, the latter which sadly is mixed way too much in the background. The build up for ?The Last Time? gets very close to Saga, incorporating some very recognizable Steve Howe guitar playing. It's a song that could easily be sung by Bob Catley as well. I had expected a choir in ?King Of The Day? as well, yet the required "full" sound is achieved here by using some of Geoff's bank of synths. ?On The Coldest Day In Hell? is the kind of song I'd love to hear sung by Steve Perry (Journey), as it kind of requires a very high pitched voice which John Payne doesn't seem to reach anymore. A triumvirate of guitarists form the backbone for ?Free" when the united talents of Steve Howe, Ian Crichton and Pat Thrall rule, alternating between electric and acoustic outbursts.

The percussion of Louis Jardim overrules ?You're The Stranger,? adding a fair amount of Latino influences combined with a Saga approach. That same "Santana-on-acid" feel runs through the final and title track ?Aura." This splendid instrumental highlights the skills of guitarist Elliott Randall, whilst I would have loved to hear the shredding sounds of a roaring Hammond C3 instead of the toybox organ here. Nevertheless a different Asia sound which will please many lovers of honest rock music.

Aura certainly is Asia's best effort in a long time yet for my liking some of the songs are way too long. Writing more compact songs and adding one or two epics in which Geoff Downes can fully shine could be the solution to survive in the future. For the time being Aura is a good, solid, rock album.

Awake (6:08) / Wherever You Are (5:14) / Ready To Come Home (4:50) / The Last Time (4:56) / Forgive Me (5:26) / Kings Of The Day (6:51) / On The Coldest Day In Hell (6:25) / Free (8:51) / You're The Stranger (6:05) / The Longest Night (5:28) / Aura (4:14)

Geoff Downes - keyboards
John Payne - lead vocals, bass, guitar
Steve Howe - guitar
Elliott Randall - guitar
Pat Thrall - guitar
Ian Crichton - guitar
Guthrie Govan - guitar
Tony Levin - bass
Vinnie Colaiuta - drums
Simon Phillips - drums
Chris Slade - drums
Michael Sturgis - drums
Luis Jardim - percussion
Neil Lockwood - additional backing vocals
Gary Liederman - bass
David Grant's Gospel Choir

Alpha (1983)
Astra (1985)
Then & Now (1990)
Live in Moscow (1991)
Aqua (1992)
Aria (1994)
Arena (1996)
Archiva I (1996)
Archiva II (1996)
Live In Nottingham (1997)
Live In Osaka (1997)
Live in Köln (1997)
Asia Live In Philadelphia (1997)
Live At The Town & Country Club (1999)
Live Acoustic (1999)
Rare (1999)
Anthology (1999)
Axioms (1999)
Archives - The Best Of Asia 1988-1997 (2000)
Heat Of The Moment: The Very Best Of Asia 1982-1990 (2000)
The Collection (2000)
Aura (2000/2001)
Enso Kai (Live In Tokyo 1983) (2001)
Alive In Hallowed Halls (2001)
America - Live In The USA (2002)
Anthologia: 20th Anniversary Geffen Years Collection 1982-1990 (2002)
Dragon Attack (2003)
Live In Buffalo (2003)
Live In Hyogo (2003)
Live In Massachusetts '83 (2004)
Silent Nation (2004)
Gold (2005)
Definitive Collection (2006)
Live In Nottingham (2007)
Fantasia - Live In Tokyo (2007)
Extended Versions (2007)
Phoenix (2008)
Omega (2010)
Live Around The World (2010)
Resonance (The Omega Tour 2010) (2012)
XXX (2012)

Asia In Asia (VHS) (1984)
Classic Rock Legends (DVD) (2001)
Live In Moscow 1990 (DVD) (2003)
America: Live In The USA (DVD) (2003)
Fantasia - Live In Tokyo (2007)
Spirit Of The Night - The Phoenix Tour - Live In Cambridge 2009 (DVD) (2009)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: July 26th 2001
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 985
Language: english


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