“Asia was always a bland, derivative excuse for a dinosaur rock band, but when their debut album came out in 1982…they seemed like a repudiation of the new wave movement, the pop music equivalent of the Reagan revolution in politics. Like Ronnie, however, Asia ran out of gas around mid-decade” (Ruhlmann).
“Steve Howe…left sometime before the Astra sessions due to tensions with [singer John] Wetton” (Wikipedia.org). “According to Howe, he was approached to play on the album by the record company before its release, but declined once he heard the material” (Wikipedia.org). Vocalist John “Wetton and [keyboardist] Geoff Downes forged ahead with this effort” (Wikipedia.org). They’d been the primary songwriters for the last two albums, but replacing a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist with Mandy Meyer, who’d previously wielded his axe for hard rock band Krokus, had to be considered a major step down.
“With less lyrics about love, Astra was a bit different from its predecessors” (Wikipedia.org), but the band was “still constructing keyboard-dominated, heroic-voiced arena pop” (Ruhlmann). Unfortunately, “nobody cared anymore, or at least not enough customers to vault them into the Top Ten, and for this kind of band, it’s platinum or don't bother” (Ruhlmann). “Wetton left Asia soon after the record’s release. Meyer would never play with Asia again. The band itself, after cancelling the Astra tour, was basically finished until 1990” (Wikipedia.org), when a live album and a greatest-hits collection would gain some attention. The slight return to the public consciousness relaunched the band, but only as a pale version of its former self. Until a 2008 reunion of the original four members, Downes and credential-free singer John Payne led the band, with only occasional appearances from Howe and original drummer Carl Palmer.