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Yes - Magnification CD (album) cover

MAGNIFICATION

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

3.75 | 1013 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars "Magnification" is the followup to the mildly successible "The Ladder" with a lineup consisting of Jon Anderson on lead vocals, acoustic & MIDI guitars, Steve Howe on pedal steel, acoustic & electric guitars, mandolin, Chris Squire on bass, Alan White on drums, percussion, and on keyboards we have... NOBODY! This is the only Yes album without a keyboardist. Heck, even Alan White has a go on piano at one point but can a Yes album survive without a Wakeman or Downes on the keys? Yes it can. The most striking thing about this album is it boasts an absolutely beautiful symphonic orchestra conducted by the likes of Larry Groupé, Bruce Donnelly and Frank Macchia. The result is a cinematic soundscape that opens the music of Yes into grand territories. Yes also have returned to their progressive sound and there are a few tracks that are absolute masterpieces such as In The Presence Of.

The album cover is another misfire sadly as Roger Dean made their other albums look so attractive. I ended up getting this on cassette after avoiding it for many years. I was absolutely delighted that it is an excellent album throughout. I first heard tracks from this on the live "Tsongas" DVD as they were touring it at the time. Magnification opens proceedings with a grandiose prog filled track. Infectious hooks and powerful singing are accompanied by sweeping orchestration and a wonderful outro that segued straight into Spirit Of Survival. This second track has a funky bassline and very cinematic orchestrations. I am absolutely loving the orchestra intonationas and the lead guitar of Howe is phenomenal as always. This is a very dramatic song and lifts the spirit with lyrics filled with hope. Don't Go is a catchy thing with Anderson imploring us not to be cruel or dark and not to go as we were supposed to be together forever, but them's the breaks. It is a more commercial feel compared to the opening tracks but the orchestra and Howe's quirky guitar licks keeps it interesting. Give Love Each Day opens with somber orchestra sweeps like a movie soundtrack, glorious it its composition. The bass chimes in and Anderson has some reflection in his lyrics; "Standing here on sacred ground, Some days it's a mad world let it be, Words of promise fill the air, empty voices, How long have we waited? And every time I hold your hand, You bring to me this promised land, I live for you this promised land." It may remind some of Queensryche who had an album about the Promised Land. I like the harmonies Squire provides too, and his bass is exemplary. The outro is a Beatles soundalike passage that works perfectly like Penny Lane or Strawberry Fields revisited. Can You Imagine is a short track compared to the rest at 2:58, and works as a beautiful tribute to Chris Squire who sings on this along with Anderson some potent lyrics "can you imagine what it is like seeing life from the other side". Again the orchestra is simply stunning on this track. We Agree is Yes in a quiet mood with a lot of sweeping orchestrations and a strong theme of believing in the days we will talk about, an optimistic lyrical content throughout "we will perpetuate this song of love".

Soft As A Dove is a lovely song with gorgeous flute and acoustic over violin strings. Anderson has a very good vocal and the lyrics are heartfelt.

Dreamtime is an epic 10:45 track and has a progressive structure beginning with an intro of off kilter musicianship, the after a lovely verse, very upbeat percussion and bass pluck out a very intense rhythm. The orchestra is at its most dramatic and augments the very strong bassline. Howe's guitar finesse is hitting a peak here, and I adore the melody and Anderson gives this everything he has in the tank. This is a hiddden gem in the Yes catalogue undoubtedly ready to unearth for those willing to dig it up. The orchestra at te end is as good as any movie soundtrack and is a powerful addition that really grabs me on every listen. This is a brilliant track, dammit, why couldn't they do this on their previous albums during the 90s?

In the Presence of is the 10:24 epic that appeared on a few compilations and live concerts. It was the only song I owned from the "In A Word" box set and I played it often. Arguably it is the best way for the band to farewell their studio recording days and indeed it was the last for this lineup and Anderson was replaced 10 years later by David Benoit. The song opens with a beautiful Anderson vocal, and is that Alan White on piano? Squire comes in soon and then that orchestra makes the soundscape soar into the heavens. This is a great track, the live performances never disappoint and of course it is the most well known track on this album as a result of the live approach.

The last track though is a short thing called Time Is Time. Perhaps this is Yes saying Goodbye, the lyrics may suggest this. I saw this track live online with Wakeman at the keys and its better than this version as a result, but still its a way to go out on a very good album that stands the test of time.

The complexity, inspired originality and downright bombastic approach of Yes returns on "Magnification" and were'nt the prog community pleased? The orchestra is an embellishment in a similar way to the live Symphonic Yes that is a masterpeice DVD so get hold of that if you can. Those who come to this album may be disappointed if they expect it to be in the vein of the prog giants of yesteryear, but the members still generate that Yes sound that has made them legends of prog. Hopefully this album will lead newcomers to their past masterpieces, namely their albums "The Yes Album" right up to "Relayer", where they really transformed the face of prog rock.

Goodbye Yes.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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