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Asia Featuring John Payne: Military Man (EP)

Call me a traitor I absolutely adored the first Asia album back in 1982 but I prefer the band's output during the John Payne era over that of the John Wetton era. As proof, I submit to you Asia's disappointing 2008 disc, Phoenix, featuring all four original members.

When Geoff Downes unceremoniously dumped Payne and the rest of the band that helped him keep Asia alive for 14 years way longer than the original Asia ever could have lasted he was at least kind enough to allow Payne to carry on with the name. The verdict is still out on whether having Asia and Asia Featuring John Payne on the road and recording music is a great idea, but here we have the first fruits of the latter project's efforts.

This five-song, 24-minute EP features new versions and radio edits of "Military Man" and "Long Way From Home" (two prime cuts from the Payne era), recorded with Payne on bass and vocals, Erik Norlander (Rocket Scientists) on keys, Jay Schellen (Hurricane) on drums and Guthrie Govan (Payne-era Asia) on guitars. And an updated version of Norlander's keyboard workout "Neurosaur," which originally appeared on his 1999 solo album Threshold, now sounds like something that could have come off the Astra or Aqua albums.

It's a shame this disc couldn't have included more songs and greater variety. As is, it's difficult to determine the musical direction this offshoot will take. But both Payne and Norlander are quality songwriters, and an eagerly anticipated album of original new material is reportedly on the way. Military Man, however, proves Payne and his cohorts are off to a solid start.

Track Listing:
1) Military Man (2009 Version)
2) Long Way From Home (2009 Version)
3) Neurosaur (2009 Version)
4) Military Man (Radio Edit)
5) Long Way From Home (Radio Edit)

Added: January 6th 2010
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Asia Featuring John Payne Web Site
Hits: 3552
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Asia Featuring John Payne: Military Man (EP)
Posted by on 2011-02-22 18:05:48
My Score:

I grew up as a fan of the original band, and took John Payne's entry into the band in stride, as the work he did - Aqua, Aria, Arena, Aura, Silent Nation - was superb. Live, especially in the 2000's with Govan and Slade, Asia were a strong versatile unit. Not to take away from the original members, but Asia with Payne really did evolve and move forward. This is seen especially by the reunited original band's output, Phoenix and Omega- which while having some strong moments, could have easily appeared in the early 80's. Further, the live shows (I've seen a few) and the live recordings (especially Fantasia) show the band to be tired and flat live.

But whatever, right? We have 2 Asia bands, and twice the music. Like it or not Payne put in more time and more albums than Wetton, and indeed deserves the right to use the name, which he was given legally.

Asia Featuring John Payne: Military Man (EP)
Posted by john asson on 2010-02-25 09:44:07
My Score:

i disagree with the previous assertions of asia fans as to john payne over john wetton. john payne does not have the vocal range that john wetton does. also asia without wetton, steve howe or geoff downes is not asia!

Asia Featuring John Payne: Military Man (EP)
Posted by on 2010-01-07 10:40:30
My Score:

I too coulnd not agree more that the Payne era of Asia was far superior to Wetton's version. While many of the "original 4 members" songs seem to me to have a sort of "sameness" to them, to the point of being nearly interchangable, the Payne era band had far more musical variety and versitility on their albums, and there was creative growth from one album to the next . They were at times very proggy, but could also do excellent ballads, hard rockers, instumental pieces, etc. Payne is also the far better lead singer for Asia. I've always found Wetton's voice to be a bit one-dimentional - whether he's singing a biting anti-war lyric like "Wildest Dreams" or a mellow love song like "Smile Has Left..", his voice never changes in tone or expression. Payne's voice to me is far more soulful and expressive, and he can adapt his singing to the harder or softer edged stuff masterfully. To pick one album, "Aura", check out how differently Payne uses his voice of the songs "Ready to Go Home" and "Free" - one is soulful and sweet, the other gruff and abrasive, and both fitting the lyric and mood of the song. Wetton by comparison has always sounded like a one trick pony to me - at least vocally. Can't wait to see where Payne takes his version of Asia from here!

Asia Featuring John Payne: Military Man (EP)
Posted by Arthur Ludwig on 2010-01-07 01:24:14
My Score:

Absolutely agree about the Payne era being preferable to the Wetton era. In addition, John Payne is a great guy who respects his bandmates and his fans, whereas...

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