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Thoughts on the Payne era albums?

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  • Thoughts on the Payne era albums?

    I'm just giving Aria a listen, its decent AOR stuff, refreshing in a way, after listening to so much prog its alright actually, love Geoff's soundscapes of course!

    What do you guys feel about the various albums from 1992-2004?
    The Definitive YES Albums

    -The Yes Album-Fragile-Close to the Edge-Tales From Topographic Oceans-
    -Relayer-Going for the One-Drama-90125-Big Generator-Union-Talk-
    -The Ladder-Magnification-Fly From Here-The Quest-Mirror to the Sky-

  • #2
    I actually liked the Payne led version of Asia. I wish things hadn't ended the way they did between him and Geoff. When they had Guthrie Govan on guitar they were a force to be reckoned with.


    • #3
      I love the Payne Asia albums. Some of them are as good as or even better than some of the Wetton ones. I'm in the minority here, but I like Asia the way I like Yes: all albums, all lineups, all eras. I love my prog, but I don't want it all day long 24/7. Asia is good slightly prog-tinged melodic rockin' stuff, great for driving and goin' to the beach.

      As for the Payne-era Asia: about half of the Asia catalogue is with Payne. Airbrushed out of existence by Asia themselves it see. ms, but it happened, I collected them as they were coming out. I never really fell away from Asia. Underrated stuff to be sure. Lots of great songs. With Asia, when Wetton left they went the Marillion route and got in a singer that sounded nothing like John Wetton. At first I Thought he sounded too 'hair metal'. In 1992, the grunge era. But that was the only Asia we got in the 90's.So I went with them and found I really liked the songs. The albums:

      AQUA (1992) - released around the same time as ELP's Black Moon album. Yes, some of the material was between the two albums originated from the Lake/Downes Ride The Tiger project. Steve Howe is also guesting here with his own band in limited capacity, but he sounds great and adds some majesty to this first Payne Asia album. One of the songs on here even ended up on the soundtrack of a ridiculous animated movie about a frog that wanted to be a spy. I'm sure everybody involved has dropped this detail from their collective memory banks.

      ARIA (1994) - probably the most AOR of the Payne Asia albums which I didn't care for at first because at this point Downes was the only original member left. But it grew on me later and there are a lot of decent tracks on here like Desire, Military Man, Summer and Anytime.

      ARENA (1996) - a more organic, even semi-70's sound on this one. There are Santana and Deep Purple moments, and this album boasts their longest track (The Day Before The War) which is over 9 minutes. Asia considered this their Steely Dan phase I think they put it. A strange collection, you usually don't equate Asia with Latin percussion.

      ARCHIVE I & II (1996) - not content to put out just one new album that year, they also put out collection of unreleased leftovers. Some are worthy to have seen release and should have been on the albums, others are throwaways. A few tracks recall ELO, in fact they even cover Showdown. A couple of these tracks were also recorded with Max Bacon for GTR or other projects. Here you hear Payne doing them.

      RARE (1999) - a totally misleading title, this is NOT a rarities collection. This is only Downes & Payne and not even rock at all. This is the soundtrack to a David Attenborough film about salmon fish. A bit unremarkable film music, similar mood all the way through.

      AURA 2001) - this is my favorite Asia album with John Payne. Great summery vibe, music that just glows. Steve Howe guests again, and I really like him in the context of Asia with John Payne. A shame there was never a full album with Howe and Payne completely together in the same lineup. Kinda like Wakeman and Rabin together in Yes - a what-if that never was fulfilled. But this is a rather long album which is a couple seconds short of 80 minutes. Could have been a double album had they added the leftover tracks Never The Way and Innocence, You also get Guthrie Govan on here as well. Great Asia album with great vibes. Love Under The Gun, The Last Time and Free.

      SILENT NATION (2004) - their 'Insideout label'-type heavier modern prog album that actually was on Insideout. Not exactly prog metal, but heavier and angstier. It's a darker album with some somber tones on a few tracks. The cover even looks like some kind of Dream Theater album. This was the last album with Payne and Guthrie Govan. Still some decent stuff here, but the writing was on the wall. Billy Sherwood cowrites a couple of the more rocking tracks too.

      Gems scattered all throughout the catalogue. Worth mentioning is GPS (Govan, Jay Schellen and Payne), which continued the Silent Nation sound with Ryo Okumoto from Spock's Beard on keys while Downes reformed the original Asia. And more recently Dukes Of The Orient, two albums from 2018 and 2020 respectively, both fine. I am a fan of the Payne era Asia. Wonderful music.
      Last edited by Soundwaveseeker; 07-11-2023, 12:06 PM.


      • #4
        I enjoyed the first album and tour. I enjoyed Steve as a special guest as well. I , sadly kind of fell off the Asia-train. Not a big fan of the hat, and Payne’s voice to be honest. Much more of a classic guy when it comes to most bands. And while I like and attended all kinds of shows from symphonies to pop, I was, and an a huge 80s metal head with Priest, Maiden , and Heaven and Hell, and of course Michael Schenker.

        Now, what have a been listening mostly in my phone when I’’m not in my car? My forever favorite singer since I first heard her on the radio back in 71, when I was seven. Olivia Newton-John. Some gems I have not heard before until recently. What an Uber talented vocalist and beautiful woman she was . The girl next door personality, and an unselfish warrior fir so many good causes, The longest crush I have ever had in any woman for over fifty-one years. But it is that voice that makes me feel like the very first time I heard her sing, every time I hear her. No one will ever have anything over Olivia with at voice, those songs, and recordings.


        • #5
          I also think that some of the Payne era Asia material is better than the Wetton fronted line up- If I had to describe the differences- apart from the obvious lead vocals- I thought Asia with John Payne was edgier- a little heavier and had a bit more spark- certainly the lineup with Guthrie was impressive- the best guitarist Asia ever had!


          • #6
            Originally posted by The sage
            I also think that some of the Payne era Asia material is better than the Wetton fronted line up- If I had to describe the differences- apart from the obvious lead vocals- I thought Asia with John Payne was edgier- a little heavier and had a bit more spark- certainly the lineup with Guthrie was impressive- the best guitarist Asia ever had!
            I'm not sure about the best guitarist they ever had - that can only be the original and unique sound of Mr. Howe. But I would definitely take Guthrie as a second choice for Asia guitarist, with Mandy Meyer from Astra as a close third. Govan has some sick guitar skills and these days people know him from The Aristocrats and things like that, but he was the Asia guitarist and was still there in AFJP and GPS for a while after Downes left. I'd take him back in Asia for sure. I'd love a new Asia lineup and album with Downes/Payne/Govan and Palmer, but that's certainly unlikely. But the quality of such a resulting album would be acceptable to me.

            Asia with Payne didn't try to sound like the MTV Asia of 1983, they had their own set of idiosyncrasies. But the powerful vocal harmonies and the symphonic/electronic keyboards were very much still intact. The guitar may have been a little more edgier/harder rock, but then again they had that sound with Wetton still there on Astra and with Pat Thrall and much later with Gravitas. Without Howe, that is the default Asia guitar sound, though I had no problem with it.


            • #7
              Time for another deep dive. Beginnin' with Silent Nation.



              • #8
                Originally posted by soundchaser09

                What do you guys feel about the various albums from 1992-2004?
                The 2004 album Silent Nation is just another example of the long tentacles of Yesdom. Both Billy Sherwood and Jay Schellen play on the album, with Sherwood also getting co-writing credit on two songs.

                Ghost In The Mirror and I Will Be There For You were written by Payne, Downes, and Sherwood.


                • #9
                  Arena was the only Payne era album that I really liked. It evokes memories of a certain transitional time of my life. And that was when Yes was in hiatus after Rabin left.
                  Jeff Tiberius Grey Wolf
                  My hovercraft is full of eels


                  • #10
                    There is also the lost GPS album
                    "We all gotta climb mountains!" - Jon Anderson 2003