Aura (Asia album)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Aura
Asia - Aura (2000) front cover.jpg
Studio album by
Released31 January 2001 (Japan)
Recorded2000
StudioLoco, Monmouthshire, Wales
GenreProgressive rock
Length63:12
LabelRecognition
Producer
  • Simon Hanhart
  • Asia
Asia chronology
The Very Best of Asia: Heat of the Moment (1982-1990)
(2000)
Aura
(2001)
Silent Nation
(2004)
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
The Daily VaultC+[1]

Aura is the eighth studio album by British progressive rock band Asia. As a result of the diverse array of guest musicians, Aura had a wide mix of sounds with some songs trying to replicate Asia's earlier style, while others retained the more acoustic Latin production started by Arena five years prior.

Production[edit]

Aura began recording in 1999 at Loco Studios located in the village of Llanhennock in Monmouthshire, Wales. The group had gotten reduced to the duo of singer-songwriter John Payne and musician Geoff Downes by this time, and they were determined to create a new sort of supergroup around Aura by bringing in multiple guest artists to collaborate with them. Examples include Tony Levin, Elliott Randall, and Chris Slade. Original member Steve Howe even featured on the songs "The Last Time" and "Free". It was produced by the band itself alongside Simon Hanhart,[2] an audio engineer who had previously produced work by groups such as Babylon A.D., Saxon, and Whitecross.[3] A stable line-up would eventually be established from this, with guitarist Guthrie Govan and drummer Chris Slade becoming mainstays until 2006.

The lyrics for "Awake" were adapted from "The Rubaiyat" of Omar Khayyam. The lyrics for "The Longest Night" were inspired by Wilfred Owen's poem of 1918. "Ready to Go Home" was written by Andrew Gold and Graham Gouldman of 10cc and appeared on Mirror Mirror (1995).

Geoff Downes had mixed feelings about the album's production. He stated "It was good to start with, but I think because of the duration of the album - at the end of it we felt it had gone in a slightly different direction than we wanted it to. In hindsight, sometimes these things happen."[4]

The cover artwork was designed by Roger Dean, who had collaborated with Asia since their inception.

Release[edit]

Aura was originally meant to release in August 2000, but scheduling conflicts with Recognition Records pushed it back to January 31, 2001, initially available in Japan before coming to the UK on February 12.[4] The album had numerous editions, including the standard jewel case CD issue, a limited Digipak CD edition with three bonus tracks, and a limited vinyl release. In the United States, the album was issued by Windstorm Records, a division of Blue Storm Music, and also included the three bonus tracks. In 2007, Aura was re-issued by Acadia, a label of Evangeline Records. This added a bonus CD which featured an acoustic performance by Steve Howe, recorded live at the Chestnut Cabaret in Philadelphia on 21 November 1992. "Wherever You Are" was released as a promotional single, backed with "Under the Gun", which both received some airplay. Two songs originally written for the album, "Never the Way" and "Innocence" were included on Armada 1, the band's first fan club exclusive EP released in 2002.[5]

Reception[edit]

Although the sound of Aura can be described as radio-friendly, it did not perform well in charts and remains one of the least sold studio recording in the group's catalog. This may have been partly due to Recognition Records, which went bankrupt within a year after the album was released.[6]

Critically, Aura received generally positive reviews. Dave Ling wrote in his review for Classic Rock magazine: "Among the standouts is Ready to Go Home, a beautifully restrained track written by Andrew Gold and 10cc's Graham Gouldman. But consistency is the album's key, and Awake, You're the Stranger, The Last Time, and the yearning The Longest Night are all songs from the very top drawer. Musically, Downes and Payne have chosen their contributors well. They seem to have an intuitive awareness of which players would fit certain songs."[4] Conversely, the magazine Wonderous Stories wrote "From the excellent opener Awake, where Geoff and John are joined by Michael Sturgis again on drums, through the concluding title track, the album is full of strengths and no weaknesses in sight."[4] Christopher Thelen of The Daily Vault was more ambivalent towards the album. While noting that the amount of guest musicians made the album lack cohesion, he cited the tracks "Forgive Me" and "Free" as highlights.[7]

Track listing[edit]

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Awake"Geoff Downes, John Payne6:01
2."Wherever You Are"Andrew Gold, Graham Gouldman, Downes, Payne4:48
3."Ready to Go Home"Gold, Gouldman4:48
4."The Last Time"Downes, Payne4:58
5."Forgive Me"Jimmy Santis, Richard Tancredi, Downes, Payne5:24
6."Kings of the Day"Downes, Payne6:42
7."On the Coldest Day in Hell"Downes, Payne, Ben Woolfenden6:26
8."Free"Downes, Payne8:13
9."You're the Stranger"Downes, Payne5:47
10."The Longest Night"Downes, Payne, Woolfenden5:21
11."Aura"Downes, Payne, Elliott Randall4:45
Total length:63:12
Bonus tracks
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
12."Under the Gun"Downes, Payne4:50
13."Come Make My Day"Downes, Payne, Ian Crichton5:02
14."Hands of Time"Downes, Payne6:31
Total length:79:35

Personnel[edit]

Asia[edit]

Additional musicians[edit]

  • Neil Lockwood – backing vocals
  • Gary Liederman – bass

Technical personnel[edit]

  • Simon Hanhart – producer, engineer, mixing engineer
  • Ray Staff – mastering engineer (at Whitfield Studios, London)
  • Roger Dean – painting, lettering
  • Martyn Dean – booklet design

References[edit]

  1. ^ Thelen, Christopher (6 May 2017). "Review: Aura". The Daily Vault. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  2. ^ Aura at AllMusic
  3. ^ Simon Hanhart at AllMusic
  4. ^ a b c d Gallant, David (1999). Asia, the heat goes on : a complete and authorised biography. Bordon: Northdown. ISBN 1-900711-11-7. OCLC 41257220.
  5. ^ "Armada 1". www.relayer35.com. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  6. ^ Randall, David (2003). "Asia – Aura (2001)". Get Ready to ROCK!. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  7. ^ "Asia: | Daily Vault". www.dailyvault.com. Retrieved 10 June 2021.