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Yes - Magnification CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.73 | 1094 ratings

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4 stars It's hard to believe that this, the last studio LP made by what is probably the most popular band on this site, is now eight years old. If it is, indeed, to be their swansong, it is certainly a fine way to go out.

Howe had got his way by having Sherwood kicked out, and certainly unlamented by this reviewer, Khurushev had left, and Wakeman was still having one of his, by now, regular stints of not talking to the band, so they were left without a keyboardist and decided to take symphonic prog to its natural level by replacing keyboards with a full blown symphonic orchestra. The results are very pleasing.

The title track kicks things off, and is really a natural follow on from the excellent commercial stuff done on The Ladder.

Spirit of Survival features a magnificent Squire bass line, whilst Don't Go actually features Anderson using a megaphone. I'm not sure why, but it is not unpleasant.

Give Love Each Day starts off as pure classical music, and it is fantastic, with a lovely brass piece accompanying strings to the backdrop of a simple Squire bass. The main Yes piece features a fantastic Anderson vocal. Certainly, The Ladder and this LP resurrected my faith in my favourite vocalist - he once again sings with passion, and this whole piece really is fantastic as he and Squire hold together a great harmony, with all band members playing at the top of their game.

Can You Imagine is a great surprise for me. This is a left over from the brief songwriting project Squire & White undertook with Jimmy Page, XYZ, and you just marvel at the incredible tone of Squire's vocals. The orchestra accompanies very well, with a nice piano backdrop to the song. An incredible performance, with Anderson very nicely playing the background vocal harmony for once.

We Agree starts off with a nice acoustic guitar, with a pulsating bass line and orchestra accompanying Anderson. The track then becomes more expansive before ending more thoughtfully again - I like this track a great deal.

Soft as a Dove is the shortest track on the LP, and is basically a pleasant quiet Anderson & Howe collaboration. It harks back to the days of yore, with Anderson reflecting upon his own personal journey, rather than bigging up LA gangs as on the Keystudio tracks.

Dreamtime is the first of the ten minute plus epics, and has many different moods and tempos, but never feels like anything less than a coherent whole piece of music. White especially comes up with some fantastic percussion, and the orchestra, especially strings & brass, make you wonder why we ever had keyboards in the first place.

In The Presence of is the second epic, and I think it is excellent, and was even better live. It starts off with Anderson solely accompanied by a piano, before Squire plays the most exquisite bass line. We are once again worshipping the Sun - oh happy days! It really is literally like going back in time to the '70's. Howe and Squire combine superbly. Again, the track consists of many pieces melded into a whole, the trick they frst learned to such great effect on The Yes Album. The Standing on Sacred Ground section is simply awesome. The only word I can think of to describe this track is majestic. Guitar, strings, voice, slide guitar combine to create an incredible piece of music.

Time is Time ends proceedings, and if this really is to be the last ever studio track we hear from Yes, it is a fantastic way to finish. The acoustic live version on Tsongas is also superb.

There are, I know, a great many people who gave up on Yes after the '80s or '90s. I would urge them to return to the fold and get this LP, most certainly the most effective traditional Yes LP since Going for the One, even if it doesn't feature Wakeman. In fact, the orchestra really do make up for his absence, and Howe, most certainly, was being truthful when he declared that this was the music that Yes absolutely had to make.

Four stars - an excellent addition to any Yes or prog collection.

lazland | 4/5 |


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