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Yes - Magnification CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.73 | 1093 ratings

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3 stars When Magnification was released, I was surprised at how enthusiastically some members of the Yes community embraced it. Sure, it's got the consistant Yes sound that we haven't heard too often since 1980. Sure, the novelty of replacing the keyboards with an orchestra generally works throughout the album. Sure. the mood and the lyrics and the level of technical skill displayed on the album harkens back to Yes's glory days of the mid-'70's without sounding tired or retro. All of those are the things that make this a pretty good album. But there is nothing on here (with the possible exception of In the Presence of, which we may one day look back on as the last classic song Yes ever released) that lifts it above the level of being a pretty good album.

Let's break it down a bit.

Magnification: This is one of those songs where Yes takes a couple of very disparate themes and welds them into a slick (almost overproduced) production. Fortunately they didn't go qute as far overboard as they did on, say, Open Your Eyes off the album of the same name, which this reminds me of. Magnification is a good song and a strong opening to this album.

Spirit of Survival: Arena rock that harkens back to the ABWH/Union days. An ok song with a nice, energetic bass line. Not bad, but not what I buy a Yes album for, either.

Don't Go: Well, how to describe this one? This is basically a humorous Anderson novelty song, I guess, but it's not nearly as bad as it sounds. It's got the best backing vocals on any Yes album since Talk and Howe's little riffs on this one are truly awesome. It's offbeat, but it's worth listening to.

Give Love Each Day: Groupe (the orchestral arranger) gets to show off his stuff in the introduction to this progressive ballad. The rest of the song is one of those inspiring anthems that Jon can belt out when he's got the rest of Yes there to keep him from getting too syrupy.

Can You Imagine: Yet another experiment on this most experimental of albums as Chris Squire briefly takes over the job as lead vocalist. This a rather restrained and thoughtful song falls into the category of ok but not great.

We Agree: You could take the same adjectives from the last review (restrained, thoughtful, ok, not great) and apply it to this song too. The difference is that "not great" is a bit misleading, because this song really knows where it is going, building from a very simple beginning to an expansive ending both musically and lyrically.

Soft as a Dove: This is a song that I have a hard time evaluating, mostly because of the way the orchestral instruments interweave piecemeal between Jon and Steve's parts. Some days I think that it's a pretty nifty gimmick, some days I think it just doesn't quite work. Anyhow, categorize this one as another novelty piece like Don't Go.

Dreamtime: This is one of the two epic tracks on the CD. It's pretty good, even though it has to compete with the In the Presence of. Lots of energy, lots of spirit, lots of good taste throughout.

In the Presence of: The must hear song on the album. The best track over 10 minutes that Yes has released in quite some time. I think you could go all the way back to Awaken before you found another epic of better quality. (Yeah, this beats Mind Drive, That that is, and Endlesss Dream.)

Time is time: A cute, sappy closing song in the spirit of Nine Voices off The Ladder.

To sum this album up, there are really four things that you get out of it when you listen to it.

1. You get an album that is pretty close to the sound and spirit of all of those other Yes albums that you love.

2. You get to hear an experiment in replacing the keyboards with an orchestra which is largely successful.

3. You get to hear a future Yes classic in In the Presence of.

4. You get to hear some of Steve Howe's best guitar work with Yes in a very, very long time.

ghost_of_morphy | 3/5 |


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