Asia: The John Payne years

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Musician95616, Jun 2, 2016.

  1. Musician95616

    Musician95616 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Davis, CA
    Not sure how much discussion this might generate (thinking there aren't many Asia fans in the first place). At any rate, any opinions on the John Payne years? Seems like this second incarnation of Asia has been pushed into the background, but actually made some pretty solid albums.

    1. Aqua
    2. Aria
    3. Arena
    4. Aura
    5. Silent Nation

    Been revisiting "Aqua" in particular and thinking that it stands on its own as a solid AOR/Prog-Rock album. "Who Will Stop The Rain", "Lay Down Your Arms", "Heaven On Earth", "Someday", "Crime Of The Heart".... all solid songs.

    Definitely less of a band and more of a Geoff Downes and John Payne project over the albums, but Carl Palmer guests on "Aqua" and Steve Howe pops up on both "Aqua" and "Aura".
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  2. JPagan

    JPagan Forum Resident

    South Florida
    Arena and Aura are both excellent throughout.

    and Aria not so much; though there's a few nice songs in each.
  3. SoporJoe

    SoporJoe Top 5 Reviewer

    British Columbia
    Arena's OK, but most of the Payne version of Asia is kind of same-y.
    MikeInFla likes this.
  4. Thoughtships

    Thoughtships Forum Resident

    Devon, UK
    I like the Asia albums with Payne, but I LOVE the Wetton stuff. I think the problem is that the two vocalists are so wildly different in style. Whereas Wetton is very English and very "prog" in his delivery, Payne sounds much more like a generic, American blues-rock singer. I vastly prefer the former, with the latter being a bit too generic for my tastes. Arena and Aura stand out, with the rest sort of middling. The biggest turn off for me has always been JP's vocals...
  5. Musician95616

    Musician95616 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Davis, CA
    I think the John Payne area has some nice moments, but as the above post points out, John Payne and John Wetton are extremely different in their vocal delivery and style. Payne is definitely more "theatrical" and guilty of over-emoting in that hair-metal sort of way (particularly on parts of "Aqua" and "Aria"). I too prefer the Wetton lineup, as that is "true Asia" to all parties concerned.

    I wonder if a new band name would have been better for the John Payne era.
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  6. PTgraphics

    PTgraphics Forum Resident

    I really like the Payne era of Asia. Silent Nation is the only one, as a whole, I was not too crazy about. Aria is a great listen. Don't forget about the two "Archiva" volumes that were put out with some of the stuff that would later make it onto the reissues. IMO, some really good stuff on those 2 CD's. I bought the original versions upon release.

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  7. Musician95616

    Musician95616 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Davis, CA
    Heart Of Gold, Tears, The Higher You Climb.....great songs on the Archiva releases.
  8. Endymion

    Endymion Forum Resident

    I agree. "Aura" and "Arena" are very good albums. Love the latin flavour on "Arena".

    "Aria" and "Silent Nation" are decent but there's too much generic AOR/hard rock on those albums. "Aqua" is a mixed bag of songs created in the course of many years by a dozen different people. It has many clunkers and is my least favourite Payne era album but it also contains one of their best songs, "Who Will Stop The Rain".

    I also recommend the only album by GPS which is a Payne-Asia album in all but name. It's their most progressive release.

    It's good to read a thread about the Payne era because I prefer these albums to the "reunion era" albums. Asia was still a living and active band with Payne, always putting their new music first in concerts whereas the reunion Asia became mostly a nostalgia act.
    RangerXT, altaeria and Musician95616 like this.
  9. Endymion

    Endymion Forum Resident

    Yes, those are the three standout tracks that would have improved "Aqua" had they used them for that album.
    Musician95616 likes this.
  10. BwanaBob

    BwanaBob Forum Resident

    Maryland, USA
    I saw the Aqua tour in a small venue. Although it had Steve Howe as a guest guitarist, there was something lacking, especially when they did JW era tracks. I will agree with others that Who Will Stop the Rain was magnificent, it was the best of the JP tracks they did live.
    RangerXT likes this.
  11. Musician95616

    Musician95616 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Davis, CA
    Okay, let's try this: favorite songs off of each Payne-era album.

    1. Who Will Stop The Rain
    2. Lay Down Your Arms
    3. Heaven On Earth
    4. Someday
    5. A Crime Of The Heart
    6. A Far Cry
    7. Love Under Fire

    1. Anytime
    2. Sad Situation
    3. Feels Like Love
    4. Military Man
    5. Summer

    1. Arena
    2. Heaven
    3. Two Sides Of The Moon
    4. The Day Before The War (a little Dream Theater-ish?)
    5. Never
    6. Turn It Around

    1. Awake
    2. Wherever You Are
    3. Ready To Go Home
    4. The Last Time

    1.What About Love
    2. Long Way From Home
    3. Ghost In The Mirror

    Looking at this list of my favorite songs, AQUA still has the better songs overall, for my tastes. I agree with an earlier post that there were some definite clunkers in there (Back In Town, Voice Of Reason).
    Jeremy Holiday likes this.
  12. Galley

    Galley Forum Resident

    It's ALL good!
  13. P-Floyd-Fan

    P-Floyd-Fan New Member

    San Diego, CA USA
    Been a fan of both incarnations of Asia. Seen Wetton's ASIA live twice. The Payne years have some great songs spread out over albums. I played the album Aria endlessly in the mid 90's. Couldn't understand why this album wasn't a hit. Got the chance to see John Payne's ASIA FEATURING JOHN PAYNE show in San Diego about 10 years ago. They were the openers. Followed by THE SWEET and DOKKEN and GREAT WHITE. Very strange pairing. Asia only played about 10 songs. Most were Wetton Era songs. Really wished I could have seen a trus Payne era show.

    Favorite Payne song: Military Man
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  14. Galley

    Galley Forum Resident

    Am I the only one who wants an Asia Featuring John Payne live album without Wetton-era tracks?
  15. SJP

    SJP Forum Resident

    That's funny because a reunion which produces four new studio albums is hardly a nostalgia act. Plenty of new music is in their sets but as their catalogue grows, you can only include so much.
  16. Endymion

    Endymion Forum Resident

    I have seen the reunion Asia a couple of times and each time they played maybe two or three songs from their latest album and maybe one other song from the reunion era. Most of their setlist consisted of songs from the first two albums, not to mention old ELP, King Crimson and Buggles tunes (on the Phoenix tour). On some concerts they played the complete debut album!
    In the Payne years they usually played most of the songs of their most recent album, a selection of older Payne era tunes and just a handful of songs from the first three albums. Especially in later years they played fewer and fewer Wetton era songs. (I'm not talking about the Asia feat. John Payne Las Vegas shows, just about the regular tours here in Europe.)
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  17. Endymion

    Endymion Forum Resident

    That would be cool. They could tour as GPS, play only GPS songs and Payne-Asia songs and record a live album but then almost nobody would attend the shows.
  18. zen

    zen Forum Resident

    As you may or may not know....Asia with John Wetton was very popular (for awhile at least), whereas the John Payne era were never popular with a #1 album. So, there's a freedom for John Payne because he's not a slave to a hit album that most fans want to hear. Playing the hit songs is the up and down side of popularity, for some fans (or bands).
    From my experience (with any band/artist) is that most fans want the "nostalgia," whereas, the hard core fans want less and no hit songs in the set list.

    As for most of the Wetton Asia set list containing old ELP, King Crimson and Buggles tunes.....that was dropped after the Phoenix tour of 2008.
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  19. Endymion

    Endymion Forum Resident

    Yeah, I know all of that and I agree with it. It does not contradict what I wrote earlier. During the Payne era tours the priorities in creating the setlist were:
    1. Promote the new album
    2. Play a selection of earlier Payne-era songs
    3. Play "Heat Of The Moment", "Only Time Will Tell" and maybe two other classic Asia songs.

    The priorities for reunion Asia were:
    1. Play as many songs from the first two albums as possible.
    2. Play two or three new songs
    3. If Steve is in a REALLY good mood play something from "Astra"

    That's why reunion Asia feels like a nostalgia act to me, like Yes and Styx are today.
    In the Payne era Asia was still a living and breathing band. You were curious what they would come up with. They also continuously changed their style from album to album. With the reunion Asia I often can't even remember on which album a certain song was. The albums all sound very similar to me.
  20. zen

    zen Forum Resident

    ^ I know where you're coming from.

    4. (Omega, XXX, Gravitas tours) Play a few tracks from the other reunion albums (ie: Never Again, Extraordinary Life, Finger On The Trigger, Holy War, etc).
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  21. bRETT

    bRETT Forum Resident

    Boston MA
    "Go" at least was done fairly regularly, even in the Payne tour that Steve guested on.
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  22. Musician95616

    Musician95616 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Davis, CA
    Steve Howe never seemed happy playing other people's songs for QUITE some time. In Yes, it always looked like he begrudgingly played Trevor Rabin-era tunes such as "Rhythm Of Love" and "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" all throughout the late 90s and early 2000s. That attitude only RECENTLY seems to have gone away, and he's even thrown some harmonizer on the solo for "Owner" to better approximate the sound of the original solo.

    I think that in Asia, Steve seemed more willing to play "Go" and "Voice of America" on tour. I want to say that "Rock 'n Roll Dream" was played live as well during his second stint? I think he had less of an issue with the Asia stuff he wasn't involved in as opposed to the Yes stuff.
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  23. bRETT

    bRETT Forum Resident

    Boston MA
    Though it's worth noting that he's been friendlier to Peter Banks era songs-- "Time & a Word" has been played often, and "Astral Traveller" was dug up for the first B. David tour.
  24. Musician95616

    Musician95616 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Davis, CA
    Yes - I think that Trevor just bugs the crap out of Steve!!! Maybe it's because at one point Trevor was brought in to be a part of Asia. Steve gets rid of him then, and then to his horror finds Trevor to be the boy wonder behind Yes's return....without Steve!
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  25. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    He really got around, I mean he played with Glenn Miller in the Big Band era as well. glenn-miller-sonja-henie-john-payne-sun-valley-serenade-1941-BP9TN8.jpg
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