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Yes Magnification album cover
3.73 | 1296 ratings | 98 reviews | 17% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2001

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Magnification (7:15)
2. Spirit of Survival (6:02)
3. Don't Go (4:27)
4. Give Love Each Day (7:44)
5. Can You Imagine (2:58)
6. We Agree (6:30)
7. Soft as a Dove (2:18)
8. Dreamtime (10:45)
9. In the Presence Of (10:24) :
- i) Deeper
- ii) Death of Ego
- iii) True Beginner
- iv) Turn Around and Remember
10. Time Is Time (2:09)

Total Time 60:32

Bonus tracks from 2001 Rhino DVD:
11. In the Presence Of (live)
12. Magnification (live video, from "Yes Symphonic" DVD)

Bonus disc from 2001 Eagle Rec. limited edition :
1. Deeper (In the Presence Of) (live) (11:18)
2. Gates of Delirium (live) (23:47)
3. Magnification (live) (7:44)
4. CD-Rom Track:
- a) Jon Anderson Interview
- b) Don't Go (single video)
- c) Gates of Delirium (live video, from "Yes Symphonic" DVD)

Bonus disc from 2004 Eagle Rec. release:
1. Close to the Edge (live) (20:06)
2. Long Distance Runaround (live) (3:45)
3. Gates of Delirium / Soon (live) (22:41)

Total Time 46:32

Line-up / Musicians

- Jon Anderson / lead vocals, acoustic & MIDI guitars
- Steve Howe / pedal steel, acoustic & electric guitars, mandolin, backing vocals
- Chris Squire / bass, lead (5) & backing vocals
- Alan White / drums & percussion, piano, backing vocals

- Larry Groupé / orchestrations, arrangements & orchestra conductor
- Bruce Donnelly / orchestrations
- Frank Macchia / orchestrations

Releases information

Artwork: Bob Cesca with Roger Dean (logo)

CD Eagle Records - EAGCD 189 (2001, Germany)
CD Beyond ‎- 398 578 205-2 (2001, US)
2CD Eagle Records ‎- EDGLT189 (2001, Europe) Limited edition w/ 1 bonus disc
2CD Eagle Records ‎- ER 20062-2 (2004, US) Bonus disc w/ 3 Live tracks

DVD Rhino - 78250 (2001, US) Surround 5.1 mix & Adv. Resol. Stereo w/ 1 bonus track + 1 video

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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YES Magnification ratings distribution

(1296 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

YES Magnification reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Greger
3 stars The Yes album "Magnification" from 2001 is a proof that experience and more than 30 years in the music business can be a quality guarantee. Yes have never released a really bad album. Some albums are of course low-marks in their career, but compared to the music business overall, all of their albums are above average. I'm a conservative fan who think they were at their peak in the 70's with their lengthy complex songs, but their more melodic 80's releases and forward are really good too. "Magnification" contains a whole symphony orchestra, which makes the music very pompous and beautiful.

Yes is a band that you use to describe other bands with. They created their own unmistakable sound back in the 70's, and they're still in the forefront of progressive rock. They haven't lost their finger-skills through the years and they're still brilliant musicians. If I would compare this album with all the progressive rock, prog metal etc. that's released nowadays I would give it 10 out of 10, but compared to other Yes albums I give it 7 out of 10. Which is still very good!

Review by Zitro
4 stars Wow, Yes has indeed revived with this album. While not a masterpiece, it is better than most neo prog of these times. They have used an orchestra like many other bands, but here their arrangements are made in a magnificent way so that the orchestra seems to serve the purpose of the lost keyboardist.

Magnification 7/10 : this is a little overrated in my opinion, and sounds nothing more than a nicely arranged symphonic pop song that ends with noise. The bass guitar line is very good.

Spirit Of Survival 7.5/10 : sounding like a spy flick soundtrack melded with hard rock, this is a very powerful track with the standout lyrics 'in this world the gods have lost their ways' which is something I never expected jon to sing. Steve Howe is the standout of this track.

Don't Go 3/10 : I always skip this track. This is as bad as the stuff from Big generator. The only good thing is the catchy chorus and the intro. It also feels long.

Give Love Each Day 9/10 : WOW, this is symphonic beauty. I never thought the words 'give love each day' could have such an imcat in the song's climax. It is a slow beautiful song like And You and I.

Can You Imagine 8/10 : A VERY catchy pop song of Chris Squire that should have been on the radio. Squire sings lead vocals, and jon sings beautiful backing vocals. The orchestra little riff is very memorable.

We Agree 6/10 : Very pretty guitar intro, but the song is a mixed bag, and it has a disappointing ending after all the emotion there was in the song.

Soft As a Dove 6/10 : very short pretty song that has a nice acoustic guitar break, but it is very short, and the song is not very memorable.

Dreamtime 9.5/10 : Oh My ... this song should be consirered a yes Classic! It has my favoruite intro in any yes songs beacuse of how the guitar melds with the orchestra. Then the song is full of strange 'rushed/tense' vocal melodies, nice instrumentation, great use of the orchestra, and on moments my favourite Squire riff of all times : descending bass notes crashing with the orchestra ... amazing! it eventually ends with an unecessary orchestra solo that hurts the score of this song.

In the presence of 8/10 : The intro is terrible, it is so much based around that uninspired melody and contains cheesy lyrics. It then intensifies and gets more interesting, like the ' what when I touch you there, you feel the words roll over you' melody over the midi guitar. The highlights of this song are the slide guitar solos, and the dark section with an ascending slow bass, and some choirs. This should have been the end of the album.

Time is Time 4.5/10 : a song about being old I think, and it sounds beatlesque and mediocre. I think they shouldn't have put this song in the album, since it is a weak closer of the album.

My Grade : B

Review by Bob Greece
5 stars This really is a prog rock masterpiece. Yes certainly have progressed with this album. They replaced the excellent keyboard playing of Rick Wakeman with an orchestra and this orchestra is really where this album stands out from their others. The orchestration is amazing. The songs are really good as well. There are a couple of bad tracks (Soft as a Dove and Time is Time). However, these are short and do not detract from the overall excellence of this album. It's hard for Yes to surpass themselves but they've really managed it this time.
Review by ghost_of_morphy
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.

Review by Australian
4 stars People underestimate old bands that have new, bright sparks, particularly Yes as everyone only ever thinks of the 70's Yes era. There is another 30 or so years of Yes music out there, during this time unappreciated albums such as 'The Ladder' and 'Keystudios' have been released, all of which can rival any "classic" prog album. They may not be the same in terms of sound, but creativity is defiantly there as the band continues, over thirty years after their debut to challenge standing styles of music, this time incorporating an entire orchestra which, in a way defies their own musical styles. What's the point of being a symphonic band who synthesizes the orchestral sound and using an actual orchestra? For me, this means that Yes doesn't care too much about their standings, now, as their careers are drawing to an end they are just making music that can be enjoyed, nothing dark or too meaningful, just music. I like this idea, the band has nothing to aspire to and have not pressure to write any chart-toping hits which gives them great freedom in the composing department.

Indeed, the compositions on "Magnification" are very different from the 70's, but who cares? Different though they may be they are of no less intrigue. Different styles and moods are provoked by the backing orchestra, and songs like "Spirit of Survival" use this large array of instrumentalists well. The orchestra gives a backing like no other, just listen to "Give Love Each Day", better than any melltron, hu? Another point to make it that there is no Rick Wakeman, just like on 'The Ladder', he is not needed, but he did do a good job on Keystudios. Coincidently there is little keyboard work and the orchestra more than makes up for this vacancy. Alan White plays piano during "Magnification" when needed.

"Magnification" really deserves more than 3.5 stars, with songs like "Magnification", "Spirit of Survival" and others it's worth at least four. I don't see anything wrong with this album and I see many people say, to support their ratings "not as good as classic Yes albums", as The Eagles would say "get over it." You can't give a rating solely comparing to another album, it's criminal and unfair. Steve Howe is the stand out on "Magnification" and he actually makes the banjo blend in with the music towards the end of "Magnification." Generally his guitar work is fantastic.

1. Magnification (5/5) 2. Spirit Of Survival (5/5) 3. Don't Go (3.5/5) 4. Give Love Each Day (3.5/5) 5. Can You Imagine (3.5/5) 6. We Agree (4/5) 7. Soft As A Dove (3/5) 8. Dreamtime (4/5) 9. In the Presence of (4/5) 10. Time Is Time (3.5/5) Total = 39 divided by 10 (number of songs) = 3.9 = 4 stars Excellent addition to any prog music collection

"Magnification" requires several listens before one grows accustomed to this different style of Yes music. I wish more people would realize that all great yes music isn't from the 70's. I'd recommend "Magnification" to anyone, the only advice I'd give you is to give it a chance.

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars Sadly this may be the last real studio album of new music Yes fans are likely to see. And that’s actually kind of too bad, since the band managed to reincarnate themselves to a certain extent in the 1990s and early in this century. Beginning around 1994’s Talk, Yes slowly re-emerged as a viable symphonic band, culminating with the flurry of fabulous activity surrounding the Keys to Ascension² (and related Keystudio) releases.

True, Keystudio, Open Your Eyes, the Ladder and this album are a bit more subdued than the band’s grandiose early gems. But the music shows a definite maturity, a sense of purpose, and a real appreciation for the art of making music. Magnification is probably closest to Keystudio in tempo, although there are no keyboards per se (unless you count Jon Anderson’s MIDI guitar). But there’s a whole orchestra backing the band up, which is very cool and in some ways makes this a more adventurous project than much of what the band had produced in the decade or so prior to its release.

The opening track pretty much sets the tone with understated orchestral strings, mellow acoustic and some electric guitar, and a subtle beat. Anderson’s voice is finally starting to show just the slightest hint of wear, certainly understandable considering the man’s age and number of years he’s been at this game.

“Spirit of Survival” is a bit more driving, with Alan White thwacking away behind Steve Howe’s undulating guitar licks. Chris Squire lays down a kind of Dragnet-soundtrack bass line that has to be heard to be appreciated, and the orchestral strings fill in the gaps quite nicely. The distinctly Golden Earring-esque backing vocals could have been dispensed with, but this is a minor point.

Anderson kicks up his MIDI player on the intro to “Don’t Go” and pairs that with some bantering vocals alongside Squire. This is probably the most bland track on the album, and was perhaps intended to be a single – who knows. Fortunately it’s not a long song.

The orchestra on this album was conducted by film composer Larry Groupé, and it shows on “Give Love Each Day”, which opens with a long string section that sounds like the opening soundtrack to a rainy French chick flick. Beyond that Howe’s guitar work is intricate, slowly building along with the strings into a rather majestic and melodic composition. This is a perfect example of the more accessible, mature sound Yes have evolved to over the last decade.

“Can You Imagine” was actually an XYZ composition, the ill-fated project Squire and White formed with Jimmy Page shortly after the Drama breakup. The opening is almost operatic, and a bit more brooding with White’s somber drums and Squire taking the lead on vocals. This one eventually picks up just the slightest bit of steam, before ending rather abruptly. I would have thought the band could have easily developed this into a much longer and more interesting work.

Anderson’s vocals are quite solemn on “We Agree”, and are made even more so backed with the string section and acoustic guitar. I guess this one is about a breakup – “we agreed to turn our backs, we agreed to turn our face away”. This is actually quite beautiful, even with Anderson’s goofy MIDI sequences worked into the lulls. This song sounds nothing like Genesis’ Wind & Wuthering, but reminds me of it nonetheless. I guess it’s the pallid mood the orchestration and guitars set.

Howe’s acoustics accompany the string section on the short and peaceful “Soft as a Dove”, a short bit of filler that is pleasant enough. There’s a bit of flute here as well that’s quite nice.

The album closes with two rather long (ten minutes or so each) works that combine some featured violin over the top of a subdued string section with a rhythmic acoustic/ bass combination that kind of sounds like a Godspeed You! Black Emperor song without the angst or solemnity. And of course with Anderson’s vocals, but that’s a given. “Dreamtime” is the stronger of the two with some strong vocal interplay and a few promising but ultimately shallow crescendos, and culminating (so to speak) in a Peter- and-the-Wolf kind of lethargic ending.

“In the Presence of…” is a four-part story-song of Anderson’s that takes us off into that fantasy place that only he really fully comprehends. This is a rather majestic work, full of lush strings and swirling guitar sounds, although the fadeout at the end is quite disappointing. “Time is Time” is a short little vocal treatment that serves to cap the album off at least.

Like Keystudio and even the Ladder, this is the work of a group of supremely talented and aging musicians who can probably put out higher quality music in their sleep than most artists can at the tops of their games. It’s much more understated than the band’s top early works, but is quite symphonic and listenable, especially considering the orchestra. I hope this isn’t the last of the band’s long studio career but if it is, they ended on a decent enough note. This is not a masterpiece, but all things considered is a quite decent work. 3.4 stars.


Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Do you read FORTUNE magazine? If not, it's okay, don't buy that magazine with respect to a review of YES "Magnification" album because it's not there at all. I just want to make a point with regards to The Excellence Issue of Fortune no. 19, November 6, 2006 where there is an article on "What It Takes To Be Great" about Robert Trujillo, Metallica's bassist. "While the lead guitar may get all the glory, the bass player, along with the drummer, is the foundation of a band, providing the backbone and the pulse of the music." "The bass is also the connective tissue between the beat and the melody line. It's really the engine of any band ." [quoted from the magazine, written by its reporter Andy Serwer]. Well, even though I'm not a big fan of Metallica, I was very happy to see rock musician being featured in this business magazine. I know couple of years ago the magazine put Rolling Stones as cover story as well.

So what is the relationship between Metallica and Yes? Nothing is really connected. But on bass issue, I really buy the idea written with respect to Andy Serwer write-up about the role of bass player (Robert Trujillo) for Metallica. My point is pretty clear: the bass player is very important to any composition of a band. Specific to this Magnification album by Yes, the same is true: the role of Chris Squire with his virtuosity bass playing is very important. I could say that Chris Squire bass guitar work is quite dominant throughout this album - it's probably nothing else more interesting than his basslines. I am not saying that Howe's guitar work is not good at all- it's just not measuring up to how inventive Chris plays his Rickenbaker.

The best track to catch how wonderful his dynamic basslines is on track no. 8 "Dreamtime" which has become my favorite. By composition standard, this is an excellent track as it combines excellent work of Howe acoustic guitar, violin /cello and orchestra and transparent voice of Jon Anderson. On percussion issue, there is latin / brazillian nuance created over here. No one would argue on how beautiful the composition of this tune - it can be considered as top notch composition. This composition might represent Yes music in the new millennium as this tune has taken shape with some elements of old Yes music. The other excellent track I could mention about this album is second track "Spirit of Survival" which has dynamic melody and structure.

Other tracks to me are like Jon Anderson's solo album but this time the accompanying band is Yes. Composition-wise, most tracks are good: right balance between complexity and melody. However, most tracks do not create something that stimulates my emotion but those two tracks I mentioned before. "In The Presence Of" can be considered good one but it lacks its peaks that stir emotion. On production issue, this album has a top notch sonic quality. My CD is Strictly Limited Edition number 11250 which has bonus CD containing "Deeper", "Gates of Delirium" (Live), "Magnification" (Live), and CDRom Track. For those who own a copy of Yessymphonic DVD don't need to have this Bonus Disc. The Bonus Disc includes interview with Jon Anderson on the rationales why Yes needed to do a concert with an orchestra. It's basically because of Yes music was created with an orchestra in mind (according to Jon Anderson).

Overall, no do doubt that this album has good composition featuring the right balance of Yes music with orchestra even though the results do not create something that stimulate the mind. Imagine when you were listening to "Close To The Edge" or "Gates of Delirium" for the first time thirty five years ago. You definitely found something "inspiring" with the songs. I cannot find it here with this album. That's why I rate this album with three stars: good but not essential. For Yes lovers, it's a must owning this CD. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Chris H
4 stars I have to start off by saying I don't think many people thought this album would sell very well, hence the $2.99 price tag. But boy were they wrong as this is probably the best album of the new millenium so far in my book!

The album starts out strong with "Magnification", a majestic and regal sounding piece that flows smoothly into the heavier and bluesier "Spirit Of Survival". "Spirit of Survival" is my favorite Yes song on this album, but not by much because it is so hard to pick. Then the sogns start to turn uber sappy, examples being "Don't Go", "We Agree" and "Soft As A Dove" and these are all songs that are easily forgettable.

After these songs pass by, the two longest songs on the album "Dreamtime" and "In The Presence Of:..." make up for the ground that was lost by the previous tracks with some thoughtful music.The albums ends on a high note with "Time Is Time", one of the only good soft-ish songs released since the late 80's.

If you are looking for an extremely great bargain, go and pick up this album right now, you can buy it pretty much just with pocket change!

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars Two years after the "The Ladder" yes produced an album without keyboard player (imagine a Purple album without guitar player or the Tull without flute) ! Alan even plays piano ! Instead we get lots of orchestration which has never been my cup of tea. The first time I heard the title track, it was during the "Full Circle Tour" (in Brussels, on June 22nd). I remember that I found it quite good. But on stage, Rick Wakeman was back and there were no such orchestral artifices. I guess it was due to the emotion of having one of my beloved bands in its mythical line- up in front of me (last time was in November 1977), because when I listen to the studio track I have a mixed feeling.

This album is not as worse as some of their work in the eighties ("Big Generator", "Union") but it is not as interesting as "The Ladder" (just to compare what is comparable). Little to none great songs ("Give Love Each Day" is probably the most elaborate one here together with "In The Presence Of". Since they are ones of the longest of the album, it is OK. A few bad ones ("Don't Go", "Can You Imagine"). "Dreamtime" has very nice acoustic guitar moments but in general it is flooded with strings, trombone and orchestration. The finale is pure orchestra. What a pity !

This will probably be the last YesStudio album : at the time of my review (I am writing it on December, 26 - 2006 but will post it a little later), there are no information at all on their web-site in terms of future projects. The only message in the "News" section is : "The members of Yes are taking a break from band activities. Though members are in discussion about their next steps there are no firm plans for the future".

My only wish is that they still will be touring to allow me and other YesFriends to see and hear them again and again, because it is always a marvelous YesExperience. I understand that it might sounds as pure nostalgia and Yes, it is !

I will rate this album two stars.

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

To this day (July 07) this is the last studio album from YES. Already 6 years old !!! and the YES members in the meantime are not getting any younger. JON ANDERSON is close to ...64 now! He even said a few years ago that YES might not record new music as no one is buying anyway.But if MAGNIFICATION was their swansong, they will leave with a bang! I am surprised by the relatively low rating this CD is getting on PA. Did anyone really listen to it??

We don't have a keyboardist on this album; RICK WAKEMAN is upon to return, but later and the great IGOR KHOROSHEV is missing in action. Instead we have a ......full orchestra!!! You know how it works when you mix classic with rock music. It can be successful or it can be a plain disaster. Luckily, we are on the good side with this album as the orchestra never meddles too much with the band and takes a back seat adding a lush sound in the background! The orchestra never overwhelm the music , just adding nice touches of paint on a perfect picture.

The strength of this album is the high level of quality of (most) the songs. We're having true jewels on MAGNIFICATION. Just listen to the beauty of ''Give love each day'' and tell me this is not great vintage YESmusic!! As good as it gets!! as good as anything produced in the 70s. Do the same with ''Dreamtime'' and the grandiose ''In the presence of''. TRUE YESclassics

Great melodies- great instrumentations- and Yes great vocals from Jon AnDERSON, back to being himself again. Yes we have a 3 mns poppy number''don't go'' , but it's funny and the chorus is well catchy; Even Chris SQUIRE is singing correctly his own tune''Can you imagine''.

If this is the last album YES will record, this will be a wonderful testament to YESmusic and the best way they could find to leave the stage. They would leave on the top!! But we still can hope for the future as YES is planning to reunite again in 2008;and hopefully with a new album! (and Jethro Tull as well)

A necessary addition to any serious YES collection. Thanks YES! No less than 5 stars as there is nothing i dislike on this album! 5 stars

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
4 stars The first Yes album of the 21st century marks an entirely new direction for band. The most remarkable thing about Magnification is that Yes did it without a keyboard player (with the exception of drummer Alan White playing some piano). Instead of seeking session musicians, the group instead used an orchestra. And, to my surprise, it worked! Furthermore, it was the most refreshing thing I think the group had ever done.

The album is really mixed well, with the exception of Steve Howe's guitar being overwhelmed in a few places. Squire's bass playing is on par with some of the best stuff he's done and Anderson's voice fits this "new" Yes just as good as the classic Yes. Squire even performs lead vocal duties on one short song. Lyrically, it is just as good as the Key to Ascension studio material. Musically, this is a very inspiring work. I guess I was really surprised with this gem as I was expecting more of a style akin to that on The Ladder.

Magnification isn't a masterpiece. A couple of the songs are a bit dull, most likely CD player skippers. The rest of the material is amazingly well done. Enough for me to assign this excellent CD a four-star rating. Highly recommended and an excellent addition to a prog rock collection. A must-have for Yes fans.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Strings attached

With the Yes keyboards playing position becoming something of a revolving chair following the departure of Igor Khoroshev (and Billy Sherwood), the band decided that for this album they would replace the keyboards sections with a full orchestra. Strangely however, the orchestra does not receive an explicit credit, with only composer, arranger and conductor Larry Groupė being mentioned. The orchestration for the most part works well, in as much as it fits in with both the music and the sound of the band. While Yes had used an orchestra previously on parts of the "Time and a word" album, that was more a case of applying the additional sound after the tracks had been completed (As happened to the Beatles "Let it be"). Here, the orchestration was planned in advance, hence coming across as an integral part of the music.

The success or otherwise of such a venture is however ultimately down to the strength of the material, and this is where the album falls a bit short. Had the songs been of the quality of the tracks on "The Yes album", "Fragile" etc, we could be talking here of a masterpiece. Unfortunately, they are not. The dominant tracks here are the opening "Magnification", with the chanted mantra of the title, "Dreamtime" and "In the presence of..". "ITPO" has been retained in the band's live set, and is certainly the best of the bunch here.

One of the main issues I have is that the album is too lyrical. There was a real opportunity here to exploit the space available through extended orchestral passages, and for Steve Howe to add some considered guitar solos. It is however the voice of Anderson which dominates pretty much throughout. Lyrically, he moves between the schmaltzy ("Don't go", "Give love each day", "We agree", "Soft as a dove") to the refreshingly obscure. "Spirit of survival" includes such verses as "The younger the older the wiser become, recover misfortune this true life as one, our genius is shining the past has all gone, what's left is the clearest perception of one".

The song "Can you imagine" is interesting as it started life as a song called "Believe it", a demo off which was recorded by Alan White and Chris Squire with Jimmy Page when they briefly get together as XYZ (ex Yes and Zeppelin). Here, Chris Squire gets a rare chance to step up to the microphone as lead vocalist. The track has the sound of a "Fish out of water" outtake, perhaps not surprising given the fine orchestration of that album.

Apart from the brief coda "Time is time", the album concludes with two strong 10+ minute tracks. "Dreamtime" is a dynamic, progressively structures piece which I suspect would actually have sounded better had the orchestra been replaced by swirling synths and driving Hammond organ. "In the presence of" is a wordy piece but the strong melodies and intricate arrangement help it to stand out from its peers.

Overall, a positive album from Yes, which sees them trying hard to rekindle the magic of their early material. While this album is not up to the standards of those halcyon days, there remains much to enjoy here.

Yes continued the collaboration with orchestra on their YesSymphonic tour which followed this album. Many of the old favourites were given a new lease of life by the tour, which demonstrated all too clearly that the newer songs are decidedly second rate when presented alongside them. At the time of writing, this remains Yes's latest album. Hopefully, we will see exciting new product from them in 2008.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars That's the spirit of survival...!

The Yes boy's final (so far...) album is a good one, not their best, but it was never destined to be anyways. it is impressive, however, that a band of their age could still manage to produce such a caliber of music, this release even holding a couple true YesSongs. The absence of any kind of keyboards will definitely throw off some old fans, but the orchestra added in it's wake is actually a nice replacement (at some points)! As said before, this release actually holds a couple classics, some weak tracks as well, but the good tracks balance it out to make it one good album.

The album opens with a bang. MAGNIFICATION is a wonderful track with some great vocal melodies by Anderson accompanied by some soothing guitar by Howe until we reach the chorus at which point the song really picks up and carries to the end. Good track, this one seems to pass faster than the seven minutes that it is. The second track, SPIRIT OF SURVIVAL is, actually, even better, especially for the hard rocker crowd. A hard bass line accompanies Anderson as Squire pumps out some of his heaviest stuff to date. This is another track that seems to end faster than the track listing time would suggest. Moving along and shifting gears is the calm and almost beautiful GIVE LOVE EACH DAY, a song that takes full advantage of the newly acquired orchestra, but seems to lack a bit in the lyrics department, which at some points come off as cheesy love lyrics. That's okay though, since the music makes up for it, really. WE AGREE is another good song, again a bit heavier (or maybe just louder), this one, however, a little less memorable.

There are a lot of good tracks, but what about great? What about poor? Well, let's see...

A couple tracks on this album are... how you say.... lacking. DON'T GO is a fairly annoying song that was obviously the band searching for some kind of commercially acceptable song to release as a single. On this album, however, it sounds quite strange and out of context. One thing that's not so bad about it is the fact that it's quite short. CAN YOU IMAGINE, voiced by Squire, is an alright song, another short one. Squire has really always been a background vocalist at best (with the exception of his superb solo effort) and this song comes off as an alright rock song at best. SOFT AS A DOVE and TIME IS TIME are a couple songs that have nothing really going for them, they're short, quiet, and basically forgettable. So while each of these particular tracks have a certain charm to them they really wind up falling flat on this album.

The two longer tracks are the ones that really are what stands out on this album. IN THE PRESENCE OF... is a bit of an overrated song, but it's still great. It's a fairly soft one that has a couple of really good moments and is one of the alum's high points, but not one of Yes' classic epics. DREAMTIME, however, is one of Yes' finest works to date. It's a heavy, aggressive, and yet at the same time fairly modest song that is good from any angle you look at it. These two songs definitely demand attention and really show that the band still has potential to impress.

The bonus CD that comes with some of the editions of this album feature 3 live tracks, Close To The Edge, Long Distance Runaround and Gates Of Delirium/Soon. These are song fairly interesting symphonic renditions that sound a lot different than the originals. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily, Gates Of Delirium is definitely worth the listen as this live rendition is quite good and lively. Same goes for Long Distance Runaround which seems to benefit greatly from the symphony. Close To The Edge, however, comes off as fairly weak. Strange, yes, but somehow true.

So, in closing;

Is this a classic YesAlbum? No, certainly not. However, it is very good with a few moments of true shining glory. 3 stars would be the rating this album shall receive! Recommended for those who want some good Yes outside the 70s or those who want to hear the band without keyboards.

Review by Chicapah
4 stars I'll be the first to admit that I've been, for a long while, a backsliding Yes fanatic. The younger generations probably have no inkling as to just how fervidly devoted the followers of the band were back in their heyday. In my circle of acquaintances there were about 20 of us "Yessers" that thought they hung the moon and the stars. In fact, upon learning that the '74 tour for "Tales from Topographic Oceans" would only bring them as close to North Texas as Oklahoma City, we convinced/bribed Donovan Reese to borrow/steal and pilot his Dad's oversized RV to transport us all up I-35 for the show we couldn't bear the thought of missing out on. (Unfortunately, 3 or 4 of the passengers partied a little too hardy during the 4-hour trip and, instead of seeing our idols put on a fabulous show, spent the evening passed out in the RV; an unforgivable sin they most likely never recovered from.) But the insult that was "Tormato" struck a death blow to the majority of us and the magic spell Yes held over us was broken. Just as well, for we were starting families, getting real jobs, relocating and scattering, etc. and the prog bonds that had tied us together fell to the wayside. In my case I just lost track of what the various incarnations of Yes were creating and they slid to the periphery of my life for decades. Recently I noticed some very favorable reviews of "Magnification" here on the site and decided to revisit Jon & the gang to see how their music sounds in the 21st century. I am very pleased to say that they are still vital, alive and well.

How ironic it is that the outset of the album is nostalgically reminiscent of their last collaboration with a real orchestra, 1970's "Time and a Word." But, while that project was uneven at best, this time they got it right. The Larry Groupe-conducted symphony swirls around and through the band as it did back then but here they're more of an integral part of the machine rather than seeming like some kind of add-on. "Magnification" features very strong, confident vocals from Anderson and Squire and crisp drums from Alan White as he guides the group through the tune's many feel and tempo changes smoothly. It even has a great big, fat classic Yes ending to savor. "Spirit of Survival" shows Jon's voice to be in as fine a tone as ever as the band takes things up a notch and delivers a hard rocker based on a metallic, creeping bass/guitar riff. Steve Howe's work on his Strat is too cool for words and I just can't say enough about how fantastic the orchestra sounds. It's hard to imagine Yes without a bank of synthesizers or a Hammond organ but this is one of the best blends of symphony and rock bands I've ever heard.

Those first two tunes are impressive but "Don't Go" marks the start of four songs in a row that are exemplary. By now it's clear that this album is more song-oriented than just being a platform for individual virtuosity and it is amazingly refreshing. The clever intertwining harmonies and countermelodies on this track are fascinating and the catchy chorus of "don't take love for granted" will stick in your head for days. "Give Love Each Day" begins with a superb score from Groupe that brings to mind the compositions of Aaron Copland before they segue further into this wonderful song that epitomizes everything I've ever loved about Yes. These boys may have aged some but they haven't lost a step. Those of you who are like me and cherish Squire's first solo LP, "Fish Out of Water," will be delighted by "Can You Imagine" which showcases his unique voice. The ingenious harmonies floating around and Howe's slinky steel guitarisms are terrific and White even gets a chance to toss in some hot drum fills here and there. Two of Yes' trademarks, unabashed lyrical optimism and Jon's emotional singing, is very much in evidence on the stunning "We Agree" as he sings "I believe in our lives/these are the days that we will talk about." Hearing this makes it difficult to believe that over 30 years have passed since first hearing the "Going for the One" LP.

"Soft as a Dove" is a short, sweet ballad that's a bit of a come-down after the excitement of the previous quartet of tunes. Howe's acoustic guitar backed by the orchestra serves as the intro to "Dreamtime" before the song breaks loose in an aggressive tribal drumbeat. Steve then supplies a ringing 12-string riff that the symphony bounces off of while Jon and Chris deliver intense vocals over a very dynamic arrangement. The orchestra performs alone at the end and at first it almost seems like an afterthought but upon further listening it turns out to be another outstanding musical segment arranged by Larry Groupe. "In the Presence of" begins with Anderson alone with a piano but then starts a long yet dramatic build-up. Here they cleverly reprise several of the lyrical themes from earlier on the album and once they reach a peak they start over again with another climb constructed atop Squire's bass and Howe's steel guitar. They should have stopped right there but adding the embarrassing "Time is Time" to close the CD makes no sense at all. It not only sounds like a demo but it's also one of the most banal tunes they've ever recorded. I could go on but I think it's best if you just act like it isn't there.

The bonus live CD is well worth mentioning. Their 2001 rendition of "Close to the Edge" is a better engineered effort than the one on "Yessongs." Howe lights it up on guitar, the band is tighter than rusty lug nuts, Anderson is in great form and Squire demonstrates why he's considered a true master (and monster) of the Rickenbacker bass. What's curious is the fact that they fail to give any credit whatsoever to keyboard man Tom Brislin who does a more than adequate job here and even manages to throw in some subtle but interesting twists on this classic. (If it weren't for one of the resident geniuses here on the archives I still wouldn't know his name. I mean, come on fellas, he at least deserves a nod on the CD sleeve!) "Long Distance Runaround" gets the full orchestral treatment (the only one of the three that does) and it's a delight. You can tell they were having fun on this one. After Jon explains that they haven't played "Gates of Delirium" in 25 years they bravely venture into that epic gingerly and without the confidence needed for a tune like this. While it's an improvement over the horrible version on "Yesshows," I'm beginning to think that this song is just a real booger to pull off in concert. They don't come close to approaching the majesty of the studio original on "Relayer."

To sum it up, if you had (as did I) pretty much written Yes off I urge you to reconsider and add this album to your collection ASAP. They achieve in spades what many other groups have tried with wildly varying results in combining rock music with a full orchestra. And the more I listen to it the more impressed I am. They sure don't sound like musicians in their late 50s and early 60s, that's for sure. While it's not on the same level as the legendary albums they were producing in the early/mid 1970s, it beats the jeans off most of the questionable material they put out in the 80s and 90s. After hearing this one I can only hope they ain't done yet. A very solid 4 stars.

Review by Prog Leviathan
4 stars From the very first sound the listener hears on this album they will know that Yes has finally-- after the boundless mediocrity of the '80's and '90's-- returned! Magnification possess a powerful energy for music which utterly recharges the band's performances; every member truly sounds better here than they have in decades. The result is an album which-- although admittedly sappy and unchallenging-- shines with enthusiasm and enjoyable songs.

First off, the writing is head-and-shoulders above "Ladder"," Keystudio"... you name it; these pieces are thoughtful and memorable with big instrumental passages and soaring vocals. The opener explodes with sound, leading into the dynamic contrasts of Spirit of Survival where savage riffing contrasts expertly with tender textures. There are certainly a few bits of filler here, but they do little to take away from the power of the standout tracks-- Dreamtime is worthy of standing side-by-side with some of the band's finest work.

Secondly, is the AMAZING difference in quality of the musician's playing from previous albums. Anderson's voice is clear and strong while Squire and Howe deliver their strongest works since Relayer. Even if the song's pale in comparison to the ambition and genius of classic albums, the fact that they are played with such a renewal of energy makes them very enjoyable to listen to. Be warned though, that the lyrics to these songs are straddling the line between cosmic and Christian (In the Presence Of... come on), and are in many cases examples of Anderson preaching his own brand of new-agey spirituality.

The inclusion of the orchestra is done very tastefully, and comes off much classier than Wakeman's contributions in the recent past. Strings and winds are incorporated into the band's lineup very effectively, often changing the carrier of the melody and adding a terrific level of depth to the songs.

The result is an appropriately epic one, and will not disappoint fans of the band.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars Magnificent!

Even if, at the present moment, some eight years have passed since the release of Magnification, this is still Yes' latest album and possibly the last Yes studio album we will ever see. If this is the case, they surely left us with a magnificent studio finale (but they kept touring for several more years after that and the present status of the band is unclear).

While the previous incarnation of the band, who produced The Ladder, had featured as much as six band members, they are down to only four for Magnification. Among these four we find two original members - mainstays Jon Anderson and Chris Squire - as well as Steve Howe and Alan White who has been with the band since 1971 and 1974 respectively. This is a significant portion of what is often referred to as the classic line-up. It is immediately noticeable that with only these four members there is no keyboard player. However, Alan is credited with playing piano.

The lack in the keyboard department is remedied by the inclusion of a full symphony orchestra. This marked the first time Yes had included an orchestra on an album since the Time And A Word album from 1970 - more that 30 years earlier! I am often sceptic about such rock band and classical crossovers; they very often don't work at all and come off as too bombastic. But here it works extremely well, I think! Indeed, I would gladly say that this is the best such album that I have ever heard (and I have heard a few)! The orchestra is perfectly integrated in the music and it is never allowed to dominate the music. I strongly suspected that I would miss a Wakeman or Moraz here, but I don't. This album is as it should be.

While The Ladder had been backward looking in many ways, with the producer explicitly trying to capture that which made albums such as Fragile so great (according to the interview with him on the House Of Yes DVD bonus feature), Magnification breaks new ground. But it is at the same time very much an album in the classic Yes tradition. This is exactly right! It is amazing that a band that had been around for more than 30 years still could try out new things and evolve.

The sound of this album is very powerful. Indeed, I would call this something of a sonic masterpiece. The bass is especially powerful, which makes this album perfect to try out new sound equipment. Chris Squire's distinctive bass sound is always powerful, but here it is exceptionally so. Jon's voice is as clear and great as ever but interestingly Chris handles lead vocals on Can You Imagine - he too is a great singer. Steve is my personal hero and he is great here, as he always is. He does not restrict himself to just electric and acoustic guitars this time either; he plays steel guitar and mandolin to great effect - everything he touches having his distinctive sound. And Alan proves himself once again on the drums. As far as I understand, Alan took a greater part in the writing of the material this time as well as playing piano. So much hidden talent in this band it is simply amazing!

The material is very strong and several songs from this album were played live on the subsequent tours. There are no weak points really but In The Presence Of is perhaps of particular interest to fans of 70's Yes.

Magnification is in my opinion just as strong as The Ladder. This makes it in place to say that this is one of the best Yes albums since the 70's. Magnificent!

Review by russellk
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.

Review by poslednijat_colobar
4 stars The most recent studio album by Yes to date,but I hope this will not be the last for them! Very appropriate for first album in XXI century. Really creative and beautiful album with orchestral arrangement.I should say that the title is good for the previous album,that marks the big return for Yes. And this maybe had to take the name re-magnification. This album shows that Yes will never spend. They can make something bad,but they are always capable of returning back to form. The album is opposite in mood direction to the previous album - The Ladder.In The Ladder it is positive and joyful,while in Magnification it's nostalgic and melancholic,probably because of the orchestra.3.75 stars really from me about Magnification!
Review by maani
4 stars I just wanted to add my two cents (and four stars) to some of the recent reviews by listeners who have either discovered or re-discovered this album. And for those who have never heard it: anyone who thinks that a Yes album cannot be great (yes, great) without Bruford and/or Wakeman; scads of non-standard time signatures; and/or ultra-textured layers of atmosphere, needs to listen to this absolutely remarkable, joyous album.

No, it's not The Yes Album, Fragile or Close to the Edge. But it occasionally comes closer than one might expect, and is as good as any of them in its own way. For one thing, it is more heart than head, and all the more uplifting for that. It also has some of the most well-crafted compositions since the Tales/Relayer period. Indeed, even the shorter songs have multiple sections, expertly intertwined. And everyone is in fine form: White is as good as he's ever been (occasionally sounding quite Bruford-esque); Howe is his usual tasty self; Squire is featured here more than he has been in some time; and Anderson's voice has rarely been as solid and expressive.

And although there are no keyboards, it is amazing how little one misses them, particularly here, since the orchestrations are superb: neither overwhelming nor overly sparse, but perfectly appropriate and well- written. In fact, not counting the Moody Blues (who basically wrote the book here), I would say this is the best blending of rock band and orchestra after Wakeman's Myths & Legends.

Taken on its own terms, this album easily ranks alongside Time and a Word and Going For the One - and in places equals the best of Yes' albums - i.e., the things we love to love them for.

So go ahead, don't be shy. If you've never heard it - or haven't heard it in a while - put the CD in, put on those headphones, and be prepared to smile.


Review by lazland
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.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In my opinion, Yes could have entitled this album Magnificent and it would have been fitting. For the first time since Time and a Word, the orchestra is on deck, playing alongside pioneers who blended their unique style with the rawer essence of rock. Steve Howe's guitars are manifold and diverse, both in style and texture alongside the swirling orchestra. Chris Squire maintains the low, but doesn't mind firing off a few outstanding riffs once in a while; yet it his background (and in one case lead) vocals that stand out the most. Alan White batters away, imbuing the music with great energy. Jon Anderson's voice is as elegant as ever, but the overall vocal harmonies with the rest of the vocalists is somewhat different than before- it sounds aged, I suppose, which in my opinion is a wonderful thing. If there was ever an album that didn't need a proper keyboard player, this is without a single doubt it. No other Yes album sounds like this at all; the sound has a darker quality despite most of the songs being generally uplifting and in high spirits as much Yes music is.

"Magnification" A stirring and gallant first song, this stirs my soul and stands out as one of Yes's best works in a very long time. The lyrics waver in that fascinating realm of nebulousness and fascinatingly true to the sound that Anderson weaves so well. Squire sounds amazing singing backup, and Howe's playing suits his style throughout the whole piece. While I normally would cringe at such a thing, this song degenerates into a barrage of noise- but that merely sets things up for the next piece.

"Spirit of Survival" Here is the aftermath of the destructive-like ending of the first amazing song. The heaviest of all the tracks, I imagine that this is what Yes would have sounded like had Anderson stayed with the group for Drama; that gritty guitar and those heavy passages, interspersed with quieter, floating movements, reminds me of "Machine Messiah."

"Don't Go" If the album had a single glaring flaw, this might just be it; it's on the border of typical Jon Anderson schmaltziness and the more ridiculous elements that made much of Keystudio (particularly "That, That Is") somewhat embarrassing to listen to. The big difference is, this is so much fun. Plus, the orchestra and band sound great. On top of that, the melody is catchy as all get out. So it's not so bad after all!

"Give Love Each Day" The classical opening is one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard an orchestra play, nay, in my life. It leads into the song proper, which is somewhat dark in mood, with Squire's bass taking care of the main riff. Squire's deep vocals underneath Anderson's are phenomenal, showing what a great backup singer he is. Howe's electric in the background glitters even more so than it did on "Starship Trooper."

"Can You Imagine?" A leftover track from the long-abandoned group XYZ, this is a rare Yes track featuring Squire on lead vocals. It's a brief song, but expertly performed and with a beautiful melody. The orchestra has a prime role in this song. The vocals are quite frankly some of the finest Yes has ever done. For those who love Fish Out of Water, this is the proverbial "lost track" right here- brilliant.

"We Agree" Another outstanding and favorite song of mine, this one has a great introduction courtesy of Howe. White and the orchestra add to the introduction just before the singing. The refrain is absolutely wonderful- "There are the days we will talk about."

"Soft as a Dove" If there were a second glaring flaw, this two minute piece would be it. The lyrics are pretty bad, and Anderson is almost parodying himself. The Celtic passage makes up for it though, and it's only about two minutes- no problem.

"Dreamtime" A menacing round of acoustic guitar with bites of the rest of the band and the orchestra begin one of two extended songs. Following Anderson's softer vocal interlude, almost tribal-like music ensures. Amidst White's crashing percussion, Squire treats listeners to a short bass bit before Howe takes over with quiet acoustic guitar (the second time, it's a spirited electric guitar solo). During the final two minutes of the song, the orchestra assumes control in a deep, dark, nocturnal-sounding postlude.

"In the Presence Of" The highlight of the album, this ten minute song, in my opinion, shares the same echelon as Yes masterpieces like "And You and I" and "To Be Over," and to a degree, has a flavor that is a wee bit similar to those pieces. The arrangements of the various movements are shockingly tight, and this lovely piece leaves nothing to be desired. Everything about this song is emotional and fantastic.

"Time is Time" A third short song rounds out the album. This inoffensive ditty has Howe on both acoustic guitar and Dobro alongside a lone violin, and some lovely vocal harmonies. The ending is a few more moments of the string section of the orchestra in their glory.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Magnification is the 17th ( I count Keystudio (2001) as a compilation album not a "real" studio album) full-length studio album by UK progressive rock act Yes. Down to a four-piece Yes now consist of Jon Anderson on lead vocals, MIDI guitar and acoustic guitar, Steve Howe on acoustic & electric guitars, steel, mandolin and vocals, Chris Squire on bass guitars and vocals and Alan White on drums, percussion, piano and vocals. Note the absence of a keyboard player in the lineup. Yes chose to include an orchestra instead. The orchestral parts are composed, arranged and conducted by film composer Larry Groupë. Comparisons to Yes second full-length studio album Time and a Word (1970) are inevitable allthough many things have happened to Yes sound after 30 years. Magnification was produced by Yes and Tim Weidner.

The music on the album is unmistakably the sound of Yes. Jon Anderson´s distinct and strong vocals, the great harmony vocals by the other members, the excellent bass playing by Chris Squire, the strong drumming by Alan White and the innovative guitar playing by Steve Howe. All accounted for and present. What sets Magnification apart from most other releases by the band since Drama (1980), are the strong melodies and memorable songwriting. All songs have several hooks and highlights which means that they stick in my mind long after I´m done listening to the album. Something that´s been sadly missing on many of the preceeding albums from the 80s and 90s. It´s quite obvious that Larry Groupë usually composes music for movie scores because there is an epic orchestral element in some of the songs that could well serve as soundtrack music. An example is the full orchestra section in Dreamtime ( one of several highlights on the album that song). Other times the orchestra almost work as a keyboard would in the music just with that pleasant organic sound that only "real" instruments create. I don´t miss a keyboard player that´s for sure. The album features one pearl of a song after another and quite surprisingly for me, I even enjoy the mellow/ folky Soft As A Dove. Other highlights are the strong opening title track and Give Love Each Day. This is through and through quality material though. There are no sub par songs on the album.

The musicianship is as always outstanding and the production is professional and warm.

To be honest I feared how the inclusion of orchestration instead of keyboards/ synths would fit Yes sound. After all I´m not the most enthusiastic fan of Time and a Word allthough I do find that album enjoyable to some extent. Compared to Time and a Word the orchestration works much better on Magnification though. It´s a part of the music and not working against it. After 20 years of sub par and mediocre releases with only very few progressive highlights, Magnification is actually quite the surprise for me. This is an excellent album by Yes and should this turn out to be their final studio effort they certainly went out with a bang. 4 stars are fully deserved.

Review by Sinusoid
3 stars This holds a place in Yestory (portmanteau of ''Yes'' and ''history'') for the band does not have a proper keyboardist here. Instead, they use an orchestra; initially, that sounds like a horrible idea, but the way everything is arranged makes the orchestra sound like a separate instrument, as if the keys weren't really missing.

The compositional output has improved on this album compared to the effort on THE LADDER; only one bad pop song in ''Don't Go'' and two unmemorable tracks in ''We Agree'' and ''Soft as a Dove'' are MAGNIFICATION's only faults. However, if you're looking for blowaway tracks akin to ''Awaken'', ''Close to the Edge'' or ''South Side of the Sky'', you're in for a lame surprise.

The two epics here are the best the album has to offer, but neither achieve the compositional heights Yes's 70's classics do. ''Dreamtime'' has many interesting rhythmic interplays, but the two-minute orchestral-fest at the end knocks it down from essential Yes listening. The title track is the closest thing to a Yes classic with a ''Schizoid Man'' type of ending.

Like I've said before, the compositional quality is not quite there compared to when Yes kept dumping out classics. A song like ''In the Presence Of'' sounds quite ''ordinary'' in the Yes- canon even if it still has a magic to it. If you're new to the group, put this album on the backburner until a few of their classics are acquired. Yes fans should own this, but it's not a strong classic album.

Review by thehallway
4 stars 'Time and a Word', you are no longer needed!

This is the product of 10 hard years of work trying to get rid of unwanted band members, going from about 200 on Union to a splendid 4 here. And all of them are survivors from the "classic" period. So, what do you do when you can't quite sway your most beloved keyboard wizard? You do the next best thing of course. Replace his array of sounds with the 70 something timbres of a symphony orchestra. And this time it worked!

Every song on 'Magnification' has at least one good attribute, and many have more. The orchestra is perfectly integrated as an extra band member, providing counter- themes and melodies that actually help build the songs rather than simply decorate them. This is no last-minute embellishment job. The strings, brass, and woodwind are all essential to the compositions, providing a refreshingly high-quality symphonic album, that for once doesn't scream "mid-career crisis". 'In the Presence of' is special enough to have a place in the classics; the band's first truly amazing song since 'Awaken'. It's beautiful and powerful, incorporating that all-important contrast between light and dark. This song could have easily been on 'Close to the Edge'. 'Dreamtime' is almost as great, with very energetic and emotive playing (although it does seem dangerously close to the "world" style that was prominent on 'The Ladder'). 'Give Love Each Day', 'Magnification' and 'We Agree' are very good songs covering an array of structures and colours. But even the least significant material isn't bad, providing much-needed relief inbetween chunkier songs, and demonstrating the effectiveness of Squire on lead vocals, and the importance of Howe's acoustic guitar tinkling.

'Magnification' is a very solid, only very occasionally drab, long-lasting selection of orchestral delights. It's worth 4.5 stars really.

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Out with the keyboards and in with the orchestra. Yes made a bold move and somehow it paid off very well. Of course few bands have more credentials and experience with having the guts to release a studio album with a backing orchestra. Mind you Caravan did do it in the early 70s! So Magnification starts with the title track which is excellent too. Great bass, drum work, understated vocals from Anderson and Howes guitar work superb especially as he plays out the song with what sound like a banjo playing." Spirit Of Survival" has good raw energy and backing vocals.The old trademark sound is back! Viva Yes! Anderson does not strain his voice too much and the vocal harmonies of Howe and Squire work a treat throughout. They should do more orchestral work with their music because it segues naturally for them. Let's face it they are classical in their own right." Give Love each day" delivers a sincere message without being cheesy and Howe displays some great moments." Can You Imagine" has Squire leading the vocals, he is so damn good too. One reviewer mentioned this track was from the Drama fallout era, well I am glad they waited before releasing this. I have heard plenty bonus material from Tormato/Drama CD remasters and this pearl thankfully escaped being released on the Drama reissue." In The Prescence Of" the only weak point on Magnification. Sadly I think this was their last studio release with Anderson, but it certainly finished on a high note.
Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars You would think that after over three decades, Yes would be running out of good ideas for new music, but here they prove that they still have some fine progressive compositions left. No, this isn't a perfect album, just a good , solid Yes release.

This album has an orchestra in place of the usual keyboardist. ANd the orchestrations are wonderful. For the most part, the keyboard parts aren't missed. The only problem is in the recording of the orchestra. It seems that they didn't use enough microphones, and recorded the orchestra from a distance. It all has too much of a roomy sound, and doesn't blend well with the well-recorded electric instruments.

The highlights on the album (and songs that should be new Yes classics) are: Magnification, Spirit Of Survival, and Dreamtime. In The Presence Of, one you get past a weak intro, also is a very good song.

I highly recommend this one.

Review by colorofmoney91
3 stars "Magnification" is an interesting and ambitious release in the Yes catalog in that it includes the usage of authentic orchestral instruments backing the band, making the music heavily symphonic in sound. The orchestral arrangements really enhance the atmosphere, and is an extremely refreshing addition to the sound Yes adopted. Aside from the orchestral elements, this album seems very much like an amalgamation of all previous Yes-styles; the pop sounding songs are still here (Don't Go), some songs sound close to Yes' '70s compositional styles (Give Love Each Day, Soft as a Dove, Dreamtime), and most of the songs are in the '90s rockier compositional style (We Agree). There are some oddball songs, though - "Can You Imagine" sounds like a symphonic Scorpions ballad and "Spirit of Survival" gets fairly heavy for Yes.

I'd say this is a great album for Yes fans who want to hear something a little bit different from one of the masters of the symphonic prog genre. Besides the huge orchestral addition that makes this all sound very organic, there isn't much else new here from Yes. So, getting into the feel for this album shouldn't be hard, and the music is very uplifting.

Review by Guillermo
4 stars When I read that Yes was recording a new album with an orchestra I wasn´t very interested, so when it was finally released my interest to buy it didn´t improve. It was until much later, and really until I went to see Yes playing in one venue in my city ten years ago (in early December 2002) when I saw them playing two songs from this album ("Magnification" and "In the Presence of") with Rick Wakeman on keyboards that my opinion changed. But it really was until I bought their "Live in Montreux 2003" DVD that I finally saw them playing these songs very well that I finally became interested to listen to this album as a whole. Also the price was a bit expensive in comparison to other new CDs which were released then, so it really prevented me to buy it. I really expected a "quiet" album, but while it is still a "soft" album in many ways, it still has very good songs. At the time of the recording of this album Yes was without a keyboard player, so they decided to replace the keyboard parts with the use of an orchestra. While I didn´t like very much the use of an orchestra in their "Time and a Word" album from 1970, the use of the orchestra in this album is very well done, with the orchestra really working very well with the rest of the instruments played by the band, and it was very well recorded and mixed, so you can listen to everything having a "space" without "buring" any instrument as it happened in their "Time and a Word" album (which has some good songs and some good orchestral arrangements, and maybe the problem in that album was that Peter Banks´guitar playing can´t be listened very well and some of his guitar parts and some of Tony Kaye´s keyboards parts were duplicated by the orchestral arrangements). In comparison, in this album the orchestral arrangements are more complementary to the other instruments, so they work very well together. Alan White plays a bit of piano (I remember hearing his piano playing in at least two songs: "Can You Imagine?'" and "In the Presence of"), and I think that he plays the piano very well, and I don´t understand why he doesn´t compose songs more often or his songs are not recorded more often by the band or for a solo album, because he said in one interview that "In the Presence of " is mostly a song composed by him, and in my opinion this song is the best from this album. I remember that I liked this song very much when they played it in my city with Wakeman on keyboards, who for the two songs they played from this album he played the orchestral arrangements on the keyboards while reading scores, doing a very good job. I think that the presence of Jon Anderson in the songwriting and in the lead and backing vocals makes a very clear difference to the Yes´albums which were recorded without him. He and Squire together on songwriting (althought all the songs of this albums are credited to all members) and backing vocals (althought Howe and White also sing backing vocals) make the Yes´sound to be more "authentic" to the original concept of the band, in my opinion. Anderson´s lyrics talk more about love and other "warm" feelings more related to the music of the sixties and seventies, and this band was founded in the late sixties, so the messages are more "authentic" to their "essence". This is a very good album, not comparable to other very good albums they have recorded before, but still enjoyable.
Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Magnification' - Yes (79/100)

In so many ways, Magnification rides on the precedent set by The Ladder. As was the case on The Ladder, the strong epic tracks may not be quite enough to excuse the inconsistent pop songwriting, but Yes truly sell their 17th album on account of the passion they've put into arranging and executing it. Even without the full orchestral treatment, I think Magnification could have held its own against anything the band had released in over twenty years.

Whereas so much of Yes' post-Drama material is cumulatively shat upon by their fans and critics, the short period beginning with their Keys to Ascension duology and ending with Magnification escaped the brunt of the storm. After how bad things got with Open Your Eyes (a next-to-worthless AOR album if ever I've heard one!) Yes seemed to get the message, and decided to turn their sound around for the better. The fresh studio material on both Keys to Ascension 1 + 2 was well-intentioned and proggy, but lacked soul and inspiration. In spite of a few weak tracks, The Ladder aptly demonstrated that Yes were still capable of releasing great prog in their fourth decade of existence. Magnification, then, is the next logical evolution in this short Yes renaissance. Not having employed a full-bodied orchestra since 1970 with Time and a Word, the fact alone that Yes were bringing symphonic prog full circle was pretty audacious, particularly for a band who, earlier on Union, didn't sound like they had a clue where they wanted to go.

Most of Yes' orchestral experiments have felt superficial to me- Time and a Word only used the symphony in spurts, and the Symphonic Live orchestral renditions of classic material rarely did more than shadow the guitar and bass lines. In any case, Larry Groupë orchestral arrangements here proved to be a wonderful surprise. Although the focus remains almost always on the band themselves, these songs were clearly written with enough 'fill in the blanks' room for Groupë to make the orchestral contribution relevant. These songs could have existed well enough on their own, but the symphonic arrangements make them come alive.

Using a symphony (even as background accompaniment) in rock music is always ambitious, but it doesn't often work. Even if the orchestra holds the potential for intensity and bombast that rock musicians often strive for, people have become too desensitized by the fanfare of action film soundtracks to make it so exciting when the symphony is made to sound as energetic as their rock counterparts. The Michael Kamen-conducted orchestral rendition of Metallica's S&M is an example of the hokey bombast Yes cleverly avoided here. There are times when Groupë's orchestral arrangement gets bold alongside the guitars, but the beauty of the arrangement lies in the fact the symphony transcends a merely supportive role. Although the rest of the song isn't particularly well written, the two minute orchestral to "Give Love Each Day" is as beautiful and tender as anything on the album. The fact that so much of the spotlight is given to the orchestra makes the symphonic experiment so much more than the ego trip it usually is for bands.

Although the symphony adds an expected sense of grandeur to the proceedings, Magnification may very well be the most laid-back album Yes have ever released (I'm not going to give Heaven and Earth the credit of mention here). The passion from The Ladder is here, but there's nothing here as wacky and caffeinated as "Homeworld" here. There is a confidence and sense of purpose on Magnification I don't think Yes had experienced since even before Tormato in 1978. While the soft epics ("Dreamtime", and "In the Presence Of" especially) still comprise the best the album has to offer, the quality of the regular songs has considerably increased over The Ladder. Despite its mid- tempo pacing and orchestral overlay, "Spirit of Survival" is one of the hardest rocking tunes Yes had done in ages. The title track has a pleasantly 'classic Yes' feel to it, and the beautifully pastoral moments on "We Agree" more than compensate for the cheesier AOR influences. "Soft as a Dove" is short, but it's a gorgeous showcase for Jon Anderson's voice, who sounds just as he did thirty years prior.

Sadly, not everything shines so brightly on Magnification. Other songs are less successful; "Don't Go" sounds like a pop tune you might hear on "Big Generator"- it's catchy and cheerful enough, but ultimately feels out of place on the album. While I've already mentioned how much I love the first two minutes of "Give Love Each Day", the rest of the song is dampened by a chorus that is far too do-goody to be saved by the confidence Yes performing it with. Also, while the rose-tinted lyrical imagery doesn't really detract from the album, given the fact that Jon Anderson was once writing lyrics about massive battles, Hindu vedic shastras and the exodus of alien peoples via mythic Moorglade, I might have hoped a Yes album this good would have been given some more fascinating narrative material.

Whatever Magnification's faults may be, they're far outclassed by the major strides Yes achieved here. It's a brief period of inspiration and clear-sightedness you wouldn't expect to see from a band that had been going for so long, much less a band that had spent the better part of the decade prior writing wallpaper rock. In some cruel twist of fate, the album on which Yes finally 'got it back' would be their last, at least until the Benoit David-fronted Drama-wannabe Fly From Here a decade later. Oh well. The important thing is that the post-Tormato era released at least one great Yes record. At the time, I think that was more than any of us were rightfully expecting.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by patrickq
2 stars For better or worse, Magnification is period Yes. Even given the fact that the album was recorded with an orchestra, it's not a radical departure from the band's late-1990s work.

At this point Yes was comprised of its founders, vocalist Jon Anderson and bassist Chris Squire; longtime drummer Alan White, who had joined in 1973; and guitarist Steve Howe, who had been with the band from 1970 to 1980, 1991 to 1992, and 1995 to the present. The band did not have a keyboardist at this time.

The orchestra works just fine in place of a keyboardist - - which makes sense; on much of 90125 and Open Your Eyes, for example, the keyboards were used as backing instrumentation. Although some of the arrangements on Magnification are a little contrived, I disagree that the orchestra is a gimmick. Nonetheless, the use of the orchestra here is far from stupendous. It's ornamentation which was almost certainly developed after most of the material was written. In fact, it sounds as though the orchestral parts might have been composed after the album was recorded. (Apparently, though, this wasn't the case.)

Since the Rabin era ended in 1995, most of the band's songwriting, on Keys to Ascension (1996), Keys to Ascension 2, Open Your Eyes (both 1997), and The Ladder (1999), can be classified either as Anderson songs, Anderson/Howe songs, or Billy Sherwood songs. Take away Sherwood, who had left the band after The Ladder tour, and Magnification sounds very much like late-1990s Yes with an orchestra added.

Unfortunately, although Anderson was the writer of classics like "Astral Traveler" and "Long Distance Runaround," and while Anderson and Howe jointly wrote "Roundabout," "Close to the Edge," and "Awaken," late-1990s Yes music was not of the same quality as these masterpieces. It almost seems like the band submitted bare-bones sketches of the songs to Larry Groupé, the orchestral arranger and conductor, in hopes that Groupé would add some meat. But it also seems like Groupé was never considered a co-writer, and thus, his contributions are embellishments on and restatements of those relatively stark demos.

Other than the songwriting, my only real complaint with Magnification relates to the use of pitch-correcting software (probably Antares Autotune). This allows the real-time or post-production correction of off-key notes, and is usually used to fix problems with vocals. Its use caused indignation among some fans and a lot of posturing among some artists in the late 2000s. Personally, I think Autotune is a completely natural development in music. The problem on Magnification is overuse, particularly on Chris Squire's solo parts and especially on Anderson's layered harmonies. Whereas Autotune can be used to move a melodic line closer to being on key, on Magnification it seems to have been used to make many vocal tracks sound perfectly on key - - so perfect that you can tell that Autotune has been used.

There are two nice tracks here. "Can You Imagine," sung by Squire, is a good example of a simple idea which still suffers from an emptiness, even with the orchestral ornamentation. But it has a nice melody and fits nicely within its three-minute runtime.

"In the Presence Of," especially "Deeper," the first section, is also based around a strong melody, initially played on piano by White. As he has so many times, Anderson demonstrates an incredible talent for creating vocal melodies from chord sequences and countermelodies from melodies. Whereas classically trained Yes keyboardists like Geoff Downes and Rick Wakeman are masters of arrangement, Anderson's talent seems to be intrinsic.

Magnification is far from unlistenable. Other than the immodest use of pitch-correction, the production is good, and the performances are as well. My primary complaint is that the songs themselves are generally uninspired.

In terms of overall quality, Magnification is in the same league as Tormato, Union, and The Ladder. In other words, this is one for collectors or fans of the band. By my reckoning, Yes has produced 21 studio albums (in my book, both Keys to Ascension albums count). Fourteen of these are three-, four-, or five-star albums. I have two suggestions for those who have heard some of Yes's classics (The Yes Album, Fragile, Close to the Edge, and Relayer are each rated above 4.25/5 stars on Prog Archives), and want to dig deeper. If you like the idea of the band playing with an orchestra, start with Time and a Word. Or, if you want to hear more of Anderson, Squire, Howe, and White, go with Going for the One.

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nº 466

"Magnification" is the eighteenth studio album of Yes and was released in 2001. It became a kind of a mark in band's history. It was the band's second album with a full orchestra. The first was their second studio album "Time And A Word", released in 1970. It was their second studio album without their charismatic vocalist Jon Anderson. The first was their tenth studio album "Drama", released in 1980. It was the band's last studio album, to date, with Jon Anderson. It was also the last studio album for a decade until their nineteenth studio album "Fly From Here", released in 2011. It was also the only album in the band's history to not feature any keyboardist. It was also the only studio album involving only four Yes band members. And the last but not the least, it's generally considered the best studio album released by Yes since "Drama". So, due to all things I mentioned before, somehow, "Magnification" is a very special album for Yes.

"Magnification" has ten tracks. All songs were written by Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White. The first track is the title track "Magnification". It's a very interesting and good song to open the album in the same vein of the old classic Yes' songs. This is a song with very complex harmony parts and where the bass guitar line is excellent, as is usual. The flute parts sound also very well. This is a great song and a very strong opener to the album. The second track "Spirit Of Survival" is another excellent and very powerful track on the album. One of the reviewers on Progarchives mentioned James Bond and I agree with him. It reminds me a song of a soundtrack of a James Bond film, but much heavier and progressive. The performance of Steve Howe on this track is simply amazing. The third track "Don't Go" is clearly a Jon Anderson's song. It isn't as good as the two previous songs but it remains for me a very good one. It has truly amazing backing vocals performance, one of the best I've heard on any Yes' album. The fourth track "Give Love Each Day" is a very sweet track but it's also, at the same time, a very powerful track. It's a slow and a very beautiful song, one of the most beautiful songs ever written by Yes, in the same vein of "And You And I", but more powerful. The orchestral arrangement is absolutely beautiful and astonishing and it's one of the best I've ever heard. The fifth track "Can You Imagine" is another great track and where Chris Squire takes over the job of lead vocalist and Jon Anderson sings the backing vocals. Probably, it's because of that that it reminds me his debut solo studio work "Fish Out Of Water". It's a very short track but it's also very good. The sixth track "We Agree" is a very calm and beautiful song that seems to do a pause in the big musical intensity of the album, till now. It's a song with a very simple musical structure that flows gracefully and beautifully since its beginning to its end. Once more the guitar performance of Steve Howe and the orchestral arrangements on the song are excellent. The seventh track "Soft As A Dove" is one of the smallest tracks on the album, with "Can You Imagine" and "Time Is Time". It's clearly another Jon Anderson's song with a very beautiful medieval folk tune. This is a very nice and simple song, all acoustic and only performed by acoustic guitar, flute and Jon Anderson's voice. The eighth track "Dreamtime" is the first of the two epic tracks on the album. This is the first real highlight on the album and we may say that we are in presence of a true classic Yes' song. It's a very dense song, very intense and with great harmonies. The instrumentation used with the orchestra is simply amazing and the performance of all band's members is absolutely irreproachable. The ninth track "In The Presence Of" is divided into four parts: "Deeper", "Death Of Ego", "True Beginner" and "Turn Around And Remember". This is the second epic track on the album, the second highlight and it's also, for me, the best track on the album. The song begins very slowly and intensifies all over the song to reach its climax. This is a majestic track full of strings and guitar solos, and represents another classic Yes' track. The tenth and last track "Time Is Time" is the shortest song on the album. It's a very soft song, nice but completely out of the place after the two previous epic tracks. It represents a weak way to close the album. I agree with Zitro when he says that "In The Presence Of" should have been the end of the album.

Conclusion: I must say that "Magnification" is, in my humble opinion, a great album and one of the best Yes' studio albums. It's also probably the best studio album released by the band since the good old 70's. My only doubt is about "Keystudio". I really don't know if I prefer "Magnification" or "Keystudio". So, "Magnification" became as one of my favourite Yes' albums. What impresses me most on this album is the use of an orchestra on the album instead of the use of the keyboards. Sincerely, I never thought possible that this formula found by the group to replace the keyboards could result as well as it resulted. It reminds me a Portuguese expression which means something like this: "Who doesn't have a dog, hunts with a cat". So, "Magnification" proves why Yes is considered one of the best progressive bands ever existed and also shows why Yes is probably the best band of the 70's, still active nowadays. Amazing!

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by Warthur
3 stars This would be the last Yes studio album for a decade or so. The band had spent the 1990s putting out a range of material, some warmly received but more for nostalgia value than for anything original it was doing (does anyone really prefer the original songs on the Keys To Ascension album over the live takes on classic Yes tunes?), some reviled (Rick Wakeman has that joke where he says Union should have been called Onion, because it makes him cry to think about, and let's not even talk about, er, Talk).

Before then, of course, you had 90125 and Big Generator - the former a pop hit which aggravated prog purists as much as it delighted a broader audience, the latter an attempt to rehash that formula which didn't quite hit the same heights. And before that, you had Drama - an album I personally love but which some Yes fans can't get behind - and before that you had Tormato, an album which also has its detractors but seems to have less passionate defenders than Drama...

So, yes, by 2001 Yes were still casting about looking for a musical direction which could sustain them for more than an album or two - and to some, Magnification is that album. For my part, I think it's a worthwhile experiment, but not something to put on a par with their better works. The basic conceit here is that we've got Yes without a keyboardist this time around - Anderson, Howe, Squire, and White are all present and correct, Rick Wakeman wasn't about for the studio sessions or subsequent tour. In place of a keyboardist, they slot in an orchestra, with Larry Groupé conducting and contributing to the orchestrations.

At least in concept, this is an interesting shift in the band's sound which feels novel whilst still feeling Yes-like - the orchestra fits the niche taken by keyboards and synths in more classic Yes material rather nicely. The difficulty is in the execution - the song concepts here too often feel a little thin on ideas, and there's too many moments when you realise that the orchestra is just playing pretty passages over a fairly uninspiring song being played by the rest of the band.

Perhaps the band were leaving these passages so that Groupé and the orchestra could step in and wow us with something, like they'd otherwise leave passages for a keyboardist to do the same, but pretty much by definition an orchestra is not a soloist - and trying to write for an orchestra like you'd write for a keyboardist (or a lead guitarist, or any other soloist in a rock group) ultimately is not going to lead to you making the best use of it.

Jon Anderson's voice is in fine form and is perhaps the part of this which holds up the bet - otherwise there's just a few too many points where the band seem to step aside for a complex and intricate solo which fails to manifest. There's also some MIDI guitars here and there courtesy of Anderson which, like many MIDI instruments of the era, have aged like milk. (It's a bit of a rule of thumb that if you you're noticing it's MIDI, then it's not especially well-executed MIDI, and it feels like that applies here.)

With the band also seemingly torn between their prog and pop instincts (there's a multi-part composition to pander to the former, and little songs like Don't Go for the latter), Magnification finds Yes yet again struggling with the same basic problem which had been haunting them for well over a decade by this point, and has kept cropping its head up ever since - namely, an unwillingness to wholly commit to one musical direction or another for the long haul. The orchestra experiment at least adds enough novelty to make this an interesting one to listen to once, and it scrapes its way to a third star on that basis but I simply can't imagine this ever getting the level of rotation I give even to Tormato or 90125.

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3 stars Yes, confined to the bare quartet delivers a back-to-shape album full of good instrumentation, great melodies and quality compositions. All instruments and vocals are treat for the ear, especially the guitar and bass guitar playing. You won't get the experimentation of the 70's Yes nor the dyna ... (read more)

Report this review (#2419478) | Posted by sgtpepper | Tuesday, July 14, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Thirty years after making 'Time and a Word', Yes returned to making an orchestral album. Magnification features orchestral arrangements by the American film score composer Larry Groupe. While there was a total disconnect between the orchestra and the electronic instrumentation on 'Time and a Wor ... (read more)

Report this review (#2415045) | Posted by iluvmarillion | Wednesday, June 24, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars In the Prog introduction to and history of Yes, the assertion is made that Going for the One was the last, great Yes album. Perhaps. Or, if we consider Magnification, perhaps not. Here, Jon, Chris, Steve, Alan and Larry Groupe' and orchestra expand John Lennon's 'Love is a ... (read more)

Report this review (#2413961) | Posted by ken_scrbrgh | Thursday, June 18, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Magnification is the seventeenth (or eightteenth if you count Keystudio as a studio album)studio album by the British symphonic progressive rock legends Yes. The artwork is rather simplisctic, clearly only the band's logo was done by Roger Dean. The album has 10 tracks it has about 60 minutes ... (read more)

Report this review (#1821766) | Posted by Norbert | Saturday, November 11, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Very good! I was curious about the most recent albums of Yes, because I've only listened to their ultra classic Fragile - one of my favorite albums of all time. Magnification is a truly "symphonic" album: the keyboards were been replaced by real orchestration, conducted by Larry Groupë with ma ... (read more)

Report this review (#775948) | Posted by tupan | Friday, June 22, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Ah, Magnification. I remember when I first heard the album, I knew it was going to take a while to get into it, and it does in a lot of ways. Partly because it's not as immediately accessable as any of the recently preceding albums, and additionally because it's unique in sound for them. It ... (read more)

Report this review (#594443) | Posted by 7headedchicken | Thursday, December 22, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Finally: An Album That Magnifies Nearly Everything We Love About Yes If there's one Yes album that comes close to reaching the musical caliber of the band's masterworks of the 70s, it's Magnification. True, there's no keyboard wizardry to complement Steve Howe's immaculate guitar and Chris Squ ... (read more)

Report this review (#492068) | Posted by senor_velasco | Thursday, July 28, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Fine songs: "Magnification", "Spirit of Survival", "We Agree", "Give Love Each Day", "Time is Time". Missing here is the keyboard sound of Rick Wakeman or Patrick Moraz, and in their place is an orchestra. And it works! This is a pretty good Yes album. I am not too thrilled, however with the 2 ... (read more)

Report this review (#449166) | Posted by mohaveman | Tuesday, May 17, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Oh, Magnification ... a return to good way of Yes This is a farewell album from Yes? Then they departed as well! Accompanied by a wonderful orchestra (in the absence of a keyboard, although Tony Brislin cover this deficiency on the tour), they give us gifts like "Give Love Each Day", "Dreamtime, ... (read more)

Report this review (#319932) | Posted by voliveira | Sunday, November 14, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I guess by this stage Yes had realised that most of their fan-base was middle-aged and created this work according. The sensibility is that of "time and a word" filtered through modern recording techniques and some of the clichés Yes had learned in the 80s. Oddly I had just been previously list ... (read more)

Report this review (#302821) | Posted by Cheesehoven | Friday, October 8, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The last offer from this legend in Music, what i can say about this work? it really enjoy it, is nice to my ears, interposing the violins and orchestra by Rick Wakeman's keyboards, offer us an album full of classical instrumentation, epic and even at times sounds like opera, and rock bases with t ... (read more)

Report this review (#266957) | Posted by JgX 5 | Thursday, February 18, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Almost ten years on this remains the latest Yes studio recording we have, and is perhaps the last that will feature the immortal Jon Anderson as lead vocalist. Igor Koroshev, their previous keyboard player, was out, and replaced with orchestral arrangements by Larry Groupé ... (read more)

Report this review (#266509) | Posted by Progfan1958 | Tuesday, February 16, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Actually, 4.5 stars. During the 1970s, Yes was my favorite band, but Going for the One turned me off to them (sorry, I don't love Awaken), and the 1980s stuff just made it worse. Recently, in anticipation of seeing them in concert, I started to listen to their later work. In my view, this albu ... (read more)

Report this review (#236415) | Posted by Rip Van ProgWinkle | Wednesday, September 2, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Like many older bands, Yes was looking for their niche after the glory days of the early to mid 70's had ended. The band had fractured and regrouped several times in the years that followed and produced several albums over the next 2 decades, with different styles and varying results. While ... (read more)

Report this review (#221411) | Posted by tdfloyd | Tuesday, June 16, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Yes' second orchestrated album (the first was Time and a Word), it is a real proof that "a king never loses his majesty". Even after 30 years passed, Yes gives us this great gift, a great Symphonic/Progressive Rock album, even on the 21st century. We Agree: reasonable song. The worst in the album ... (read more)

Report this review (#201467) | Posted by claugroi | Monday, February 2, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This it is the last album that Yes has released until today (November 2008). And it seems to me that this album was the way of Yes to close a successful career with an incredibly good album. Without telling to the absence of Wakeman, the line-up is "the classic" line-up of yes. And that is ano ... (read more)

Report this review (#191144) | Posted by Terenzani | Sunday, November 30, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Oh Yes! We left Yes with The ladder a good album, and better than their works in the last 20 years, so after a while they have made another album, is this good as the previous? It is. We have only 4 Yes now, Anderson Squire White and Howe, but they have hired a full ochestra with a complete di ... (read more)

Report this review (#191000) | Posted by Erik Nymas | Saturday, November 29, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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