Aria [Special Edition]

by: Asia

Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, and Carl Palmer surprised everyone when they re-formed Asia in 1992, with a new singer (John Payne) and a second guitarist (Al Pitrelli). Even more surprising was the fact that Aria -- the album no one had been expecting -- was quite impressive, arguably superior to its three predecessors. What could easily have been an isolated one-shot experience turned into a continuing success story when Downes returned to the studio two years later, but without Howe and Palmer. The latter was replaced by drummer Michael Sturgis. Howe, of course, could not be "replaced" (that would have been an insult to his talent) -- so Pitrelli thus became the sole guitarist of the band. Asia, then a quartet, nonetheless managed to release yet another amazing album. This is in most part due to Payne's vocals and Downes' creative mind. The album does start off with a few weaknesses, but as the music flows and you move deeper into the tracks, melodies become richer and more intricate, and the lyrics more interesting. The fourth track, "Summer," is a great song; "Sad Situation" is a marvel; and "Don't Cut the Wire" is a work of art. The second half of the record is near-perfect, from the romantic "Feels Like Love" to the symphonic "Aria," which makes for a great finale. The weakest part is the chorus of "Enough's Enough." A great investment, if you like this type of music. [This version of the album contains bonus material.] ~ Alex S. Garcia

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