Astra (album)

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Asia - Astra (1985) front cover.jpg
Studio album by Asia
Released November 1985
Recorded 1984–85 at Westside Studios, The Town House Studios and Sarm West Studios, London
Genre Progressive rock, hard rock
Length 45:05
Label Geffen
Producer Mike Stone, Geoff Downes
Asia chronology
Then & Now
(1990)Then & Now1990
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars[1]
Sounds 1/5 stars[2]

Astra is the third studio album by British rock band Asia, released in November 1985. It was the final studio album (excluding half studio/half compilation album Then & Now) to feature original member John Wetton until 2008's reunion album Phoenix.

History and recording[edit]

Started in 1984, it marked the return of lead singer John Wetton to the band's line-up, after his departure in September 1983. Wetton had been replaced by Greg Lake, temporarily, for their Tokyo concerts at the Budokan in December 1983. The first night of these shows was advertised as Asia in Asia, and was broadcast over MTV and on Westwood One. Wetton had come back, but made it a condition to his return that Steve Howe depart the band. For some time the band considered continuing as a three-piece with various guitarists - Jeff Beck and David Gilmour were under consideration - guesting on the album.[3] By the time sessions for Astra began, Howe had been replaced by Swiss guitarist Mandy Meyer, formerly of the bands Cobra and Krokus. This change in the band's line-up marked a shift in musical direction for Asia to a more edgy, slightly hard rock sound.

Wetton and Downes wrote 25 songs for the album, of which 10 were retained (one of the unused songs, "We Move as One", was recorded by former ABBA vocalist Agnetha Fältskog). Two of them, "Voice Of America" and "Wishing", were started by Wetton during his time away from the band, initially towards a solo album. "Hard On Me" was written towards the end of the sessions when Geffen complained about the lack of a potential hit single.[4] The recording of the album took place at several studios in London during 1984–85. Astra was originally intended to be named Arcadia, but was changed prior to release to avoid confusion when it was learned that a side project of the same name of Duran Duran was being recorded at the same time.[5] The cover artwork was created by Roger Dean, who had designed Asia's previous records.


The chart performance of Astra was disappointing, in comparison to the two previous albums. It reached #67 in the US on the Billboard 200 chart.[6] and #68 in the UK Albums Chart.[7] Strangely, although Astra itself didn't make the top 50, two songs charted well on the US Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, receiving radio airplay in various markets: "Go" (#7) and "Too Late" (#30),[6] and the video of "Go" (based on the futuristic heroine on the album cover) received airplay on MTV. Despite the album selling over 500,000 copies, the planned tour was cancelled.

Sounds reviewer Sandy Robertson gave the album one star out of five.[2] Allmusic critic Matt Collar gave Astra a three-star rating in a review full of praise. He called the album "a solid prog rock outing", "a truly underrated '80s rock album and a must-hear for fans".[1]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by John Wetton and Geoff Downes except "Hard on Me" and "Too Late" by Wetton, Downes, and Carl Palmer.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Go" 4:07
2. "Voice of America" 4:27
3. "Hard on Me" 3:34
4. "Wishing" 4:15
5. "Rock and Roll Dream" 6:50
Side two
No. Title Length
6. "Countdown to Zero" 4:14
7. "Love Now till Eternity" 4:11
8. "Too Late" 4:11
9. "Suspicion" 3:45
10. "After the War" 5:08
Total length: 45:05
  • On the 1995 MCA Records CD edition, "Rock and Roll Dream" is placed between the tracks "Suspicion" and "After the War".[8]