ARENA, Special Edition (E)

Artiest / Band: 
ASIA (2010)

Arena is again a remastered special edition from the back catalogue of Asia. The album features two bonustracks: the acousticTwo Sides Of The Moon and That Season which is also available on Archives II. The latter song is well-worth of being put on this album since it's in the same laidback and mellow style. As could be expected, the sound quality is superb. The line-up for this album was somewhat exceptional because there were three guys playing the guitar: Aziz Ibrahim, Elliott Randall and Hotei Tomayasu. Furthermore Luis Jardim played percussion and the core of the band at the time was Geoff Downes (keyboards, background vocals), John Payne (bass, vocals) and Michael Sturgis behind the drumkit. I’d say this album has slightly more jazzy influences than its predecessors and is mellower as a whole. Evidently there are influences of Pink Floyd in Heaven and the sound tends more towards The Buggles than in all of Asia’s history. A beautiful orchestral overture to The Day before The War is only one of the highlights. A little bit of Supertramp in Falling followed by the symphonic peace Words. No more heavy guitar riffs, only very delicate sounds, for example in the oriental beginning of U Bring Me Down, swiftly moving on towards a poppier kind of Deep Purple song, because of the Hammond that Geoff uses.

Although many of the melodies have similarities to me, I still like Asia a lot but I doubt if many people who all ready have this CD are willing to buy this remaster. If you do not possess Arena then go and get it, it’s well-worth your money!