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Yes - Magnification CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.73 | 1099 ratings

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3 stars I can see why this is likely the last ever studio album from YES. Not because it is poor - far from it - but because if such a sterling effort wasn't financially viable, what return do the band get for all their hard work? Yes, you would buy a new YES album, and so would I, but the fan makes up a tiny portion of a product's market.

Let's deal with the myth first: no, 'Magnification' doesn't sound like classic YES. The YES of 1970-1972, at their peak, had a distinctive sound generated by their rhythm section, with SQUIRE playing bass as a lead instrument and BRUFORD drumming his peerless jazzy rhythms. We don't get BRUFORD here, and SQUIRE just plays as a bassist - albeit a very good one - and not as a transcendental god of light, as he did when his sound was at the heart of YES's sunrise. So, not like classic YES in sound, but a few of the compositions are very special. From the title track, with its outstanding chorus and momentum that builds to an excellent finish, through to the two substantial tracks at the far end of the hour, this is at worst solid and at best - well, magnificent.

There are still vestiges of 80s-90s YES, but on this album the band have abandoned any attempt to write something AOR or that sounds like it could have been on an ASIA album. Instead, they come up with some memorable music. Unfortunately, though, the album is front-loaded: the best two tracks come first, and much of the rest of the album can be tedious to listen to. The title track is simply splendid, and is equal to all the hype one reads about it. Aside from the lack of keyboards - the orchestra simply doesn't have the balls of a spitting, grinding Hammond - 'Magnification' has everything. It is followed by 'Spirit of Survival', a song made by the rumbling bass line reminiscent of an ART OF NOISE number. Of the rest, the short 'Can You Imagine' is excellent, and the two longer tracks manage to hold the attention without rising into the stratosphere that YES once commanded.

The orchestra is largely pointless, especially when given its head, such as at the beginning of 'Give Love Each Day'. Once again we are reminded how very difficult it is to mesh an orchestra with rock instruments: one or the other is usually left sounding insipid. Here it's the orchestra.

Very nearly a four-star album, but still a worthwhile listen. Another YES album that contributes to a five-hour YES playlist, while seldom being played in its entirety.

russellk | 3/5 |


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