1992’s ‘Aqua’ would have to be Asia’s most underrated work. An album which just seemed to slip by, considering it was a mini-comeback of sorts.
Written by: gdmonline
LABEL: Great Pyramid Records
SERIAL: 7 3333 35819-2
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: John Payne – vocals, bass * Geoff Downes – keyboards, vocals * Al Pitrelli, Steve Howe – guitars * Carl Palmer – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Aqua * 02 Who Will Stop The Rain * 03 Lay Down Your Arms * 04 Heaven On Earth * 05 Someday * 06 Crime Of The Heart * 07 A Far Cry * 08 Back In Town * 09 Don’t Call Me * 10 Love Under Fire * 11 The Voice Of Reason * 12 Aqua II
WEBLINKS: Site Link
1992’s ‘Aqua’ would have to be Asia’s most underrated work. An album which just seemed to slip by, considering it was a mini-comeback of sorts. A lush affair, it was also the introduction of John Payne to the band. He took over the role from John Wetton as the bass playing lead singer.
Also joining (and rejoining) the band were guitarists Al Pitrelli, a New York six-string slinger better known for his time with HM oriented bands, plus veteran Steve Howe of course. Asia wouldn’t be Asia without keyboard maestro Geoff Downes, the master of the ‘ultimate keyboard layer’. As with the cover and title, one gets the impression that an ecological theme is being presented here, or maybe thats my active imagination working overtime!
The lushness is evident on the very first track, the instrumental ‘Aqua I’, reaching into the 70’s back catalog of the Alan Parsons Project. Beautiful stuff indeed, pity they couldn’t make a whole album like this! I It leads into the lightweight pomp of ‘Who Will Stop The Rain’, the powerful vocals of Payne standing out a mile.
The commercial strains of Asia’s past material is revived with ‘Lay Down Your Arms’, where Downes is heavy on the piano, synth layers, and parping brass through the solo section. The atmospherics are laid like a heavy pomp blanket a la Magnum, on the sensational ‘Heaven On Earth’. Meanwhile Al Pitrelli gets to let a few six-string salvos loose on ‘Someday’, a track which combines subtle keyboard arrangements with Pitrelli’s guitar power.
Asia take a leaf out of the Harlan Cage book, with their attempt at harder edged pomp on ‘Far Cry’, meanwhile ‘Don’t Call Me’ dabbles in all sorts of 80’s high-tech hi-jinks, courtesy of Downes. His album closer ‘Aqua II’ is pretty exquisite too, a two minute instrumental fit for a sci-fi movie soundtrack.
As I said, this album sort of slipped by quietly, but it’s definitely worth having a spot-listen to. They followed it up with the equally impressive ‘Aria’, which featured just about the same lineup as above plus Michael Sturgis on drums. That one is definitely worth a listen too.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)