Picks and Pans Review: Astra

updated 01/06/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/06/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST


The third album from this British group is a lot like its nation's cuisine: boring and doughy. Asia was formed in 1981 by four former members of a variety of progressive rock groups. The group's output has seriously deteriorated since its debut. Bassist and singer John Wetton, keyboardist Geoff Downes, drummer Carl Palmer and guitarist Armand Meyer (who replaced Steve Howe) are all proven musicians. But that is a moot point, given the homogenized, pseudo-operatic style of Astra. The songs by Wetton and Downes are stuffy, and the lyrics contain sentiments antithetical to the usual preening premises of rock 'n' roll. Having the blues is okay, but too many apologies are wearisome. Many songs on this LP, such as Wishing, reflect a fear of being abandoned: "Your right to disown me/Will always be so clear." On Go, Wetton soggily sings, "I don't wanna die before I get old." Hey guys, you're rock stars; you do the heartbreaking around here. (Geffen)

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