Asia: The John Payne years

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

  1. Jeremy Holiday

    Jeremy Holiday Member

    Location:
    New York
    He also did "Days Like These" in the reunion era, on the U.S. legs of the Omega tour. It was a lot of fun. Speaking of that tour, around 40-50% of the set was reunion-era material -- a couple from Phoenix and around 5-6 from Omega. It was a long, all Asia show (i.e. no Yes, ELP, etc. but with material from Astra and The. And Now) with intermission and it was phenomenal. The XXX tour had less reunion era material, but that tour was meant to celebrate the 30th anniversary so it makes sense that it would be less present-focused. Even so, they still played at least 5 reunion-era songs on the XXX tour.
     
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  2. Jeremy Holiday

    Jeremy Holiday Member

    Location:
    New York
    Back on topic, I agree with those who feel that Arena and Aura are excellent albums from the JP era and that all the other albums, while uneven, have some major winners (Who Will Stop the Rain, Love Under Fire, Anytime, The Higher You Climb, Tears, Long Way From Home, and Ghost in thr Mirror being some of my favorite from the non-Arena/Aura albums). As far as live albums, the 2 CD version of "America - Live in the USA" comes close to being an all JP era live album, with Wetton material significanly outweighed by Payne material. The DVD is less so - several Payne songs edited out on the DVD. Had either version included a live "The Day Before the War" or "Anytime," it would be near definitive.
     
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  3. zen

    zen Forum Resident

    Last year I got all the Payne era albums (except Silent Nation) cause they were dirt cheap. I was going into it with an open mind, and playing the albums in chronological order, but quickly discovered I couldn't get past the singing and hoped it would change (or improve) with later albums, but it didn't. Not that he's a bad singer at all, just sounded sort a generic to me. Also, reading the credits with each album, it was surprising how there was a lineup change with each album. It really was Downes/Payne project.
     
  4. JPagan

    JPagan Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Florida
    Actually, I would say the opposite. Payne's vocals did improve as he went along, and by the time of Arena he had found the right voice for the material. Though never as good as Wetton at his peak, he at least toned down the "hard rock wailing", which I found clashed with Asia's established style too much.
     
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  5. zen

    zen Forum Resident

    You're probably right. Bottom line, I'm not a fan of his vocal style and any improvement probably wouldn't matter.
     
  6. Endymion

    Endymion Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    I don't like Payne's vocal style either. I like the Payne albums DESPITE his vocals.

    Speaking of John Payne...does anybody of you guys the single "That's When The Crying Starts" that he released with a band called Stringer in 1983 I think? It sounds like a really cheesy Asia ballad, a bit like the weaker stuff on "Archiva". I liked the song when it came out (even bought the single) and I realized only a few years ago that John Payne of Asia was sining on it.
     
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  7. Runicen

    Runicen Forum Resident

    I've only heard "Silent World," but find it interesting that, for all the sort of "oh, it's so 80s!" disdain the original Asia lineup gets in the mainstream, the Payne years are almost ignored altogether.

    From what I've heard, they went in a pretty interesting direction without Wetton. Granted, in some respects, it's interchangeable with a lot of other late '80s acts that went for that synth-driven AOR power ballad thing, but they weren't bad at it. Seems to mostly be a question if that's your chosen poison or not.
     
  8. Musician95616

    Musician95616 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Davis, Ca
    I think that the Payne-era albums have some really great songs on it. Granted, there are also a lot of mediocre and blah songs (particularly by the time they got to Silent Nation), but each album has some really great stand-out tracks.

    And dare I say it (cause I am indeed a Wetton-era fan first), I think the standout tracks on the Payne-era albums are more memorable than the best songs on "Phoenix", "Omega", "XXX", and "Gravitas"..... (ducking for cover).
     
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  9. Endymion

    Endymion Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    I completely agree. Im an original Asia fan of the first hour. When Payne became the lead singer I did not feel that the music was as good as that of the Wetton era. But I've always had respect for the Payne-Asia because they were clearly doing their own thing and they were NOT just a rehash of past glories.
    Then the reunion of the original lineup happened and while I enjoyed the concerts I've been disappointed by all the reunion albums. Despite having a much better vocalist (or rather a vocalist whose style I find more pleasing) most songs were just pale copies of the Asia songs of 1982-1985.
    Somehow it made me appreciate the Payne albums even more then during the time of their original release.

    When I listen to "Arena" or "Aura" now I think that they are genuinely good albums. I would like them even if there was no Asia connection at all.
    It helps that the Payne albums were released pre-loudness-war while the reunion albums are true ear-bleeders.
     
  10. PTgraphics

    PTgraphics Forum Resident

    I agree with this and I am a big Wetton fan.

    Pat
     
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  11. Jeremy Holiday

    Jeremy Holiday Member

    Location:
    New York
    Can't agree with that personally...I rate "Phoenix" as their 2nd best album overall (after the debut), and "Omega" as their 3rd best album. But on a good day would rate "Aura" above "Alpha" and "Astra." The song "Wherever You Are" is a masterpiece.
     
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  12. Galley

    Galley Forum Resident

    My initial reaction to Aqua: "Who the hell is this guy singing? He sucks!"

    Me two weeks later: "Woah, this dude is awesome!"
     
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  13. Musician95616

    Musician95616 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Davis, Ca
    Asia's best album is hands-down the first one. I don't think anyone would disagree with that.

    Wetton seems to personally like "Astra" a lot. I think I read somewhere that he thinks that Astra is their best album, or a close second to the debut.

    I'm not sure what I'd rank next after the debut. Of the reunion-era albums, "Phoenix" is my least-favorite of the first three. I guess "Omega" or "XXX" might be a strong contender.
     
  14. progmog

    progmog Forum Resident

    Location:
    United Kingdom
    I actually liked the John Payne era. I preferred their rockier sound (although for some, I guess this was too generic); however, there were still enough prog elements to keep things interesting. The post-reunion albums are coma-inducing (in my humble opinion, of course :D).
     
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  15. Musician95616

    Musician95616 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Davis, Ca
    There are a few cool moments on the post-reunion albums, but I kindof agree with you on the "coma-inducing" moments. : /
     
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  16. zen

    zen Forum Resident

    Here's the cool moments for me...

    Never Again
    Heroine
    Alibis
    Shadow of a Doubt
    Wish I'd Known All Along
    Over and Over
    An Extraordinary Life
    Finger on the Trigger
    Through My Veins
    Holy War
    End of the World
    Light the Way
    There Was a Time
    I Believe
    Tomorrow the World
    Bury Me in Willow
    No Religion
    Face on the Bridge
    Al Gatto Nero
    Judas
    Ghost of a Chance
    Valkyrie
    Gravitas
     
  17. altaeria

    altaeria Forum Resident

    It's a shame that some of the best Payne-era songs
    weren't included on standard-issue proper albums:

    Different Worlds (Best of Asia 1982-1997)
    Never the Way (Armada 1)
    Hands of Time (Aura - Japanese release)
    Come Make My Day (Aura - Japanese release)
    Under The Gun (Aura - Japanese release)
     
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  18. JPagan

    JPagan Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Florida
    I think most editions of Aura contain those last three songs, including the US digipak release.

    They are excellent, and all feature the great Ian Chrichton (Saga) on guitar.
     
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  19. RangerXT

    RangerXT Active Member

    Location:
    United States
    Wow, i'm surprised anyone even knows about the Armada 1 release. It's nearly impossible to even find any information on that release. Only recently has someone uploaded it on youtube for me to even hear it.
     
  20. FVDnz

    FVDnz Forum Resident

    Silent Nation gets bonus points from me, thanks to some brilliant soloing by Mister Guthrie Govan! :)

    That said, I still haven't gotten round to listening to the remaining Payne era material.
     
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  21. RangerXT

    RangerXT Active Member

    Location:
    United States
    You should really check out Aura and Arena in that order.
     
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  22. RangerXT

    RangerXT Active Member

    Location:
    United States
    After listening to the song "Free" I find it rather easy to rate Aura right up there with the first 2 albums.
     
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  23. Endymion

    Endymion Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    "Asia feat. John Payne" have changed their name to "Dukes of the Orient" out of respect for John Wetton and the Downes' led Asia.
    The new album will be released in february and besides Payne and keyboarder Erik Norlander it will feature former Asia and Aristocrats guitarist Guthrie Govan and Yes drummer Jay Schellen.

    " The album was mixed on a traditional analog console to preserve and enhance the natural depth, clarity and soul of the tracks with great care taken to avoid over-compression, extreme equalization and distortion. "

    No, I'm mot making this up:
    Dukes of the Orient
     
  24. Endymion

    Endymion Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    Slight correction, it seems Asia feat. John Payne will continue to tour under that name but the "Dukes of the Orient" album will present the material that Asia feat. John Payne have recorded and that was originally supposed to be released as an Asia album with the title "Americana".

    It's all somewhat confusing but what do you expect?

    Erik Norlander: "Hi folks - I am really excited about our forthcoming album release on February 23, 2018. This work has been a long time coming. John and I started writing this music back around this time in 2007. It was originally intended for AFJP, but as John Lennon said, "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans." So now behold the Dukes! We have spent 2017 finishing the recordings, even re-tracking some older keyboard, guitar and vocal parts for more analog goodness, and the full analog mix sounds absolutely beautiful. I can't wait for you all to hear it. Happy Holidays to all! Cheers, Erik (keyboarder)"

    "This is indeed the album that was at one time going to be called "Americana." This year John and I did a lot more work on it as I mentioned and perhaps ultimately took it in a slightly different direction as a result. I left AFJP in 2014, but John continues to play live dates with his current version of the AFJP band, and I believe they have some shows booked for 2018. I'm not a part of that, but of course I wish them well. The Dukes are a totally separate band. Cheers, Erik (keyboarder)"
     
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  25. RangerXT

    RangerXT Active Member

    Location:
    United States
    It's about time! I like how the cover sort of recalls the "Arena" cover art from 1996, which makes sense seeing as Rodney Matthews is the artist.

    A Tracklisting can also be found here: DUKES OF THE ORIENT - Dukes Of The Orient - CD Jewelcase

    Tracklisting:
    1. Brother In Arms
    2. Strange Days
    3. Amor Vincit Omnia
    4. Time Waits For No One
    5. A Sorrow’s Crown
    6. Fourth Of July
    7. Seasons Will Change
    8. Give Another Reason
     
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