Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Asia: A Retrospective, 1982-2014

A Retrospective: 1982-2014


A Brief History:

The rock group Asia formed in 1981 in England. The original members had impressive resumes. Keyboardist Geoff Downes had been with the Buggles and Yes. Guitarist Steve Howe was also from Yes. Carl Palmer was the drummer with Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Singer John Wetton had previously worked with King Crimson. Despite their prog-rock credentials, the supergroup created a polished, commercially successful brand of mainstream rock.

“However, the group received “venomous criticism from the so-called hip music press.” BA “Perhaps the formation seemed cooked up by dollar-blinded record-company brass and even the musicians themselves,” BA but the group “expertly combined stellar instrumental prowess with killer hooks and choruses – and, yeah, more than a little bombast.” BA

The original lineup only lasted through two albums and Asia appeared to be done after 1985’s Astra. However, after the 1990 compilation Then & Now, which featured four new cuts, Geoff Downes took up the mantle and soldiered on with an ever-changing lineup whose only other consistent member was vocalist John Payne. Then, in 2007, the original lineup reunited for a tour and released four studio albums from 2008 to 2014. Sadly, John Wetton passed away on January 31, 2017, but at least Asia fans got to see the original foursome back together over the last decade.

On the Web (Original Lineup):

On the Web (Asia Featuring John Payne):

The Players:
  • Ian Crichton (g – Saga, Asia: 98-99, 01)
  • Geoff Downes (k – Yes, Buggles, Asia: 81-present, Wetton/Downes: 05)
  • Guthrie Govan (g – Asia: 01-06, GPS: 06)
  • Steve Howe (g – Yes, Asia: 81-84, 92, 01, 2006-13; GTR: 86)
  • Aziz Ibrahim (g – Simply Red, Asia: 96-99)
  • Mandy Meyer (g – Krokus, Asia: 85-90)
  • Carl Palmer (d – ELP, Asia: 81-85, 90-92, 2006-present)
  • John Payne (v: 92-06, GPS: 06)
  • Al Pitrelli (g: 92-96)
  • Elliot Randall (g – Steely Dan, Randy Crawford, Asia: 96, 01)
  • Jay Schellen (d – Asia: 05-06, GPS: 06)
  • Billy Sherwood (b/v – Asia: 2017-present)
  • Chris Slade (d - Manfred Mann's Earth Band, The Firm, Uriah Heep, Gary Numan, AC/DC, Asia: 99-05)
  • Michael Sturgis (d – aha, Asia: 87, 91-01)
  • Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (v/g: 2019-present)
  • Pat Thrall (g: 90, 01)
  • John Wetton (v – King Crimson, UK, Asia: 81-90, 2006-17, Wetton/Downes: 2005). Died in 2017.
v = vocals; g = guitar; b = bass; k = keyboards; d = drums

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).


This page highlights the compilations below.

The Studio Albums:

This page offers snapshots of all the studio albums below, noting those songs which appear on compilations with the codes noted above. Appearing after song titles are the songwriters in italicized parentheses, running times in brackets, and when relevant, the date the song was released as a single and its peaks on various charts. Click for codes to singles charts.

Hover over an album cover to see its title and year of release. Click on the album to go to its dedicated DMDB page.

Asia (1982):

Regardless of what the critics thought, the record-buying public lapped up Asia’s 1982 self-titled debut, sending it to the top of the Billboard album chart for nine weeks in the U.S. It was “a strong collection of melodic, sweeping, muscular arena rock” TD which produced a top-five pop hit with Heat of the Moment) and a top-twenty follow-up Only Time Will Tell. Then & Now includes both of those songs as well as Wildest Dreams, a minor album rock hit from Asia, but inexplicably omits Sole Survivor, a top-ten album rock song.

  • Heat of the Moment (4/3/82, 4 US, 1 AR, 46 UK) TN, VB, DC, AN
  • Only Time Will Tell (5/1/82, 17 US, 8 AR, 54 UK) TN, VB, DC, AN
  • Sole Survivor (4/3/82, 10 AR) VB, DC
  • Wildest Dreams (4/10/82, 28 AR) TN, VB, DC
  • Here Comes the Feeling (7/3/82, 40 AR) VB, DC
  • Time Again (7/31/82, 43 AR) VB, AN

Alpha (1983):

Their sophomore album, Alpha, came a year later. The album was another top-ten, platinum seller led by top-ten hit Don’t Cry. That album also produced the top-40 hit The Smile Has Left Your Eyes. These are both on Then & Now, but a third album rock hit, the #5 The Heat Goes On, which “showed the original quartet still had some magic,” BA fails to make the cut.

  • Don’t Cry (7/30/83, 10 US, 1 AR, 33 UK) TN, VB, DC, AN
  • Daylight (7/30/83, 24 AR, B-side of “Don’t Cry”) VB, DC
  • The Heat Goes On (8/20/83, 5 AR) VB, DC, AN
  • The Smile Has Left Your Eyes (10/15/83, 34 US, 25 AR) TN, VB, DC
  • Never in a Million Years VB
  • Open Your Eyes VB, DC

Astra (1985):

After that, the band sort of derailed. Steve Howe left and the group put out 1985’s Astra with Mandy Meyer on guitar. His biggest claim to fame was with the band Krokus, which hardly put him in the same ballpark as future Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Steve Howe. Still, the album was “unjustly ignored.” BA It offered up another top-ten song, the “explosive rocker Go,” BA on the album rock chart, but the song stalled short of the top 40 on the pop charts. The album also featured the minor album rock hit Too Late (#30). Neither song is featured on Then & Now, but album cut Voice of America is.

  • Go (11/9/85, 46 US, 7 AR) VB, DC, AN
  • Too Late (1/11/86, 30 AR) VB, DC
  • Voice of America TN, VB, DC
  • Wishing DC

Then & Now


Released: August 14, 1990

Recorded: 1981-1990

Peak: 114 US, -- UK, 82 CN, -- AU

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US

Genre: classic rock

Tracks: (1) Only Time Will Tell (2) Heat of the Moment (3) Wildest Dreams (4) Don’t Cry (5) The Smile Has Left Your Eyes (6) Days Like These (7) Prayin’ 4 a Miracle (8) Am I in Love? (9) Summer Can’t Last Too Long (10) Voice of America

Total Running Time: 42:29


3.090 out of 5.00 (average of 12 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About Then & Now:

Another five years went by before this collection emerged. With four new songs, it was certainly a test to see if Asia fans still existed. Most of the newer material is “flaccid musically and insipid lyrically.” TD The exception is “the anthemic Days Like These, which nearly matches the band’s strong debut material” TD and features Toto guitarist Steve Lukather. The song did revive interest in the group at album rock radio, where the song reached #2, but the pop world had largely abandoned Asia at this point; “Days” peaked at #64 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In the end, Then & Now is a “poorly conceived compilation.” BA Considering the few hits Asia had, it would seem to be an easy task to gather them together in one package, but Then & Now largely misses the boat. Sure, it gathers the most obvious songs with “Heat of the Moment,” “Only Time Will Tell,” “Don’t Cry,” and “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes,” but the collection is flawed because of the absence of top-ten album rock songs “Sole Survivor,” “The Heat Goes On,” and “Go.” Also, how did the band miss the obvious and not title this collection Anthology given their predilection for giving their previous albums titles all starting with “A”?

Tracks Not on Previously Noted Albums:

  • Days Like These (8/17/90, 64 US, 2 AR, 31 CN) TN, VB, DC
  • Prayin’ 4 a Miracle TN
  • Am I in Love? TN
  • Summer Can’t Last Too Long TN

Heat of the Moment: The Very Best of


Released: June 6, 2000

Recorded: 1981-1990

Peak: -- US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US and UK)

Genre: classic rock

Tracks: (1) Heat of the Moment (2) Only Time Will Tell (3) Sole Survivor (4) Time Again (5) Wildest Dreams (6) Here Comes the Feeling (7) Don’t Cry (8) Daylight (9) The Smile Has Left Your Eyes (10) Lying to Yourself (11) The Heat Goes On (12) Never in a Million Years (13) Open Your Eyes (14) Go (15) Voice of America (16) Too Late (17) Days Like These (18) Ride Easy

Total Running Time: 77:00


3.791 out of 5.00 (average of 10 ratings)

About Heat of the Moment – The Very Best of:

The flaws with Then & Now were corrected with this collection. The three unnecessary new songs from Then & Now were eschewed in favor of the three aforementioned top-ten album rock songs, although “Sole Survivor” and “Here Comes the Feeling” are “the choppily edited single versions.” BA The collection also added the B-sides “Ride Easy,” “Daylight,” and “Lying to Yourself.” However, the set is bloated with six songs each from the first two albums, meaning a few unnecessary album cuts creep in.

Tracks Not on Previously Noted Albums:

  • Ride Easy (B-side of “Heat of the Moment”) VB
  • Lying to Yourself (B-side of “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes”) VB

The Definitive Collection


Released: September 12, 2006

Recorded: 1981-1990

Peak: 183 US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU

Sales (in millions): --

Genre: classic rock

Tracks: (1) Heat of the Moment (2) Only Time Will Tell (3) Sole Survivor (4) Wildest Dreams (5) Here Comes the Feeling (6) Don’t Cry (7) The Smile Has Left Your Eyes (8) The Heat Goes On (9) Open Your Eyes (10) Daylight (11) Go (12) Voice of America (13) Too Late (14) Wishing (15) Days Like These (16) Go (extended version)


3.900 out of 5.00 (average of 10 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About The Definitive Collection:

This set weeded out some of the forgettable album cuts which clogged up The Very Best of, including the three B-sides which, while interesting to Asia’s faithful followers, are not vital songs. In the end, this ends up being the most focused of the three collections covering 1981 to 1990. I’d prefer to see “Rock and Roll Dream” and “Countdown to Zero” from Astra instead of “Open Your Eyes” and “Wishing,” but that’s just a personal choice.

Aqua (1992):

Asia’s superstar lineup from 1982 didn’t last long. After two albums, Steve Howe left the group. After 1985’s Astra, the group went on hiatus, returning for 1990’s Then & Now, which featured only four new songs. Then, in 1992, Geoff Downes and Carl Palmer reunited but now John Payne was on vocals and bass instead of John Wetton and Al Pitrelli was on guitar instead of Steve Howe, although Howe did guest on the album. Downes and Payne would become the core of the band for the next 15 years, but had nothing close to the success of the first three albums.

  • Who Will Stop the Rain? (8/92, --) AN
  • Aqua, Pt. 1 AN
  • Someday AN

Aria (1994):

Yet another original member bolted. Carl Palmer was replaced on drums by Michael Sturgis. Only keyboardist Geoff Downes from the original group remained.

  • Anytime (5/94, --) AN
  • Feels Like Love (1994, --) AN
  • Military Man (1994, --) AN
  • Reality (bonus track added to later editions) AN

Arena (1996):

This was the third album featuring John Payne on vocals. Sturgis, who stepped in on 1994’s Arena, returns here, but guitarist Al Pitrelli is gone, replaced by Elliott Randall and Aziz Ibrahim.

    Arena AN Two Sides of the Moon AN Different World AN



Released: 1997

Recorded: 1992-1997

Peak: --

Sales (in millions): --

Genre: veteran classic rock

Tracks: (1) The Hunter (2) Only Time Will Tell (3) Arena (4) Anytime (5) Don’t Cry (6) Aqua Part One (7) Who Will Stop the Rain? (8) The Heat Goes On (9) Two Sides of the Moon (10) Reality (11) Go (12) Feels Like Love (13) Someday (14) Heat of the Moment (15) Military Man (16) Different World (17) Time Again (acoustic)

Total Running Time: 74:07


3.317 out of 5.00 (average of 9 ratings)

About Anthology:

Despite the presence of classic-era Asia (1981-1990) songs, these are actually all recordings from 1992 on. John Wetton filed a lawsuit when the originals of “Heat of the Moment,” “Only Time Will Tell,” “Time Again,” “Don’t Cry,” “The Heat Goes On,” and “Go” were used on the original Japanese release so the band re-recorded them with John Payne on vocals. This collection also includes a cover of “The Hunter,” originally recorded by Steve Howe’s band GTR.

Tracks Not on Previously Noted Albums:

  • The Hunter AN

Aura (2001):

After a five-year layoff, the Downes-Payne lineup of Asia returned. A slew of guitarists appeared on the album, including original member Steve Howe. Michael Sturgis was also back on drums, a role also filled out by Chris Slade.

  • Wherever You Are (2001, --)
  • Ready to Go Home (2001, --)

Silent Nation (2004):

This was the last Asia album to feature John Payne, who’d stepped into the roll of singer and bassist with 1992’s Aqua. Chris Slade and Guthrie Govan, who’d both appeared on the last album, now filled the roles of drummer and guitarist respectively. Payne and Govan recorded the album Window to the Soul with drummer Jay Schellen as GPS in 2006.

  • What About Love? (2004, --)
  • Long Way form Home (2004, --)

Phoenix (2008):

John Wetton and Geoff Downes released a pair of albums in 2005 (Icon) and 2006 (Rubicon). In 2007, they reunited with Steve Howe and Carl Palmer for a tour in celebration of the 25th anniversary of their debut album. Then, to the delight of Asia fans, they went back into the studio to record together for the first time since 1983’s Alpha.

  • Never Again (2008, --)
  • An Extraordinary Life (2008, --)

Omega (2010):

The original four were back again with another studio album which featured a reworking of “Finger on the Trigger,” a song Wetton and Downes originally recorded for their 2006 album.

XXX (2012):

Here they are, back again! This would be the last album to feature the original Wetton-Howe-Palmer-Downes lineup.

  • Face on the Bridge (5/14/12, --)

Gravitas (2014):

Steve Howe flew the coop again, replaced by Sam Coulson on guitar. This would be the last album to feature John Wetton, who died in 2017.

  • Valkyrie (2014, --)

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 9/10/2020; last updated 8/9/2021.

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