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4.1 out of 5 stars
Magnification
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2001
First , let me qualify this review by stating briefly that I am a professional sound engineer/producer with numerous CD projects to my credit (though none exceptionally ambitous), and a long-time fan of progressive rock music as well as a great variety of other genres. I first sampled the new album by downloading the MP3 for "We Agree" I was sitting at my studio console and decided to give the track a listen through my old-school but trusted JBL 4311 studio monitors. I was immediately impressed by the overall excellence of the recording, which without doubt sets a new standard for quality in audio production for a "popular music" group. As the track progressed I could not help but become emotionally involved in the movements presented by the orchestral arrangements and when it was all over I simply sat quietly in amazement, overwhelmed by he entire experience. The entire piece lasted but a few minutes and left me feeling as though I had just sat through a great film, or read a good book. I felt moved to tears...something no piece of music has ever done to me in my 40+ years. Undoubtedly, it doesn't' hurt to have a film score arranger collaborate on the tracks, but that alone is not a recipe for success! My curiosity aroused, wanted to experience the entire album ASAP but not as a MP3 translation of the real thing...It wasn't enough to simply go and find all the songs on the net and download the goods...I had to actually buy the album because I wanted to hear it as it was intended to be heard!!! Record Companies take note!!! When your product is this good you stand to lose a lot less money to the Napsters of the world. There is nary a weak moment on this album and in this reviewer's opinion is at the cutting edge of anything Yes has released since their early days. Along with the overall sonic excellence...It simply has to be heard! Put on your best headphones, turn the lights down and the volume up, and prepare to be transported.....No, you probably can't hum or whistle the "Hit Single" on your way to work, but as a collective piece of work it simply has to be experienced. The arrangements compel the listener to simply surrender to the moment and be carried into a world of audio fantasy that plays out in one's imagination. It would be a shame to have to be subjected to a video of any of these pieces as it would more than likely remove the listener/viewer somewhat from their own interpretation of the superbly crafted imagery woven into the fabric of this work. This is the best constructed album I have had the pleasure of listening to in years! but it shouldn't end there...plans are in the works to release "Magnification" on DVD audio in 5.1 mix! Should this indeed be realized, audiophiles take note: I predict the DVD audio release of this album will set the standard by which all others shall be judged for some time to come! And I will buy the DVD as well!
In short, a must-have album for any YES fan, and for anyone who is even remotely interested in audio production and arranging ... you can't afford to miss this! A real pleasure cruise....
Oh.... if you want music to dance to....you have probably never heard of YES anyway.....
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2001
I have been captivated by Yes since I heard the first dramatic notes of "Yours Is No Disgrace" while standing on shag carpet in a friend's basement as a seventh grader in the early 1970s. I had never hear anything like it. Now, almost 30 years later, as the father of a seventh grader, I was skeptical when I learned that Yes was going to make a record with an symphony orchestra rather than a keyboard player. Since keyboards tend to mimic the natural accoustical instruments played in an orchestra, I thought why not? If the Beatles could do it with George Martin in the 1960s, certainly my favorite band could do it today. And they did it, again. I almost felt like I was standing on that old shag carpet again when I listened to Magnification for the first time yesterday. Because again, I had never heard anything like it.
No, Magnification is not old Yes backed by elevator music. It is new Yes that integrates beautifully with the orchestra. At times, Magnification is powerful, sometimes like a movie soundtrack (Titanic comes to mind), while backed by by large portions of the orchestra. At other times, Magnification is sweet and simple, "Soft As A Dove" as Jon Anderson puts it, with merely a flute backing Steve Howe's beautiful accoustic guitar.
Throughout the album, Steve Howe seems to play more accoustic than electric guitars. Unlike many rock albums, which feature an almost constant drum beat, Alan White plays almost like an orchestra percussion section. He plays well and when appropriate for the needed effects, but not constantly. Chris Squire's base playing is dynamic, but his playing also seems styled to work with the orchestra. I too enjoyed hearing Chris Squire as a lead vocalist. It was also interesting to hear how Jon's voice blended as a backup vocalist for Chris. I, unlike some critics, have always enjoyed the way Jon Anderson almost paints with his lyrics. His lyrics are a little less paint-like on this one, but I still enjoy them.
To me, Magnification, like past Yes works, captures the power and beauty of music. Magnification, however, does so in a new and different way. My advice, buy it now. And to Messrs. Anderson, Squire, Howe, and White and alumni, thank you for the 30 years of enjoyment your music has given me. What a gift.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2001
To me, MAGNIFICATION ranks as one of Yes' best efforts ever...and that's really saying something considering this is the band of CLOSE TO THE EDGE, THE YES ALBUM, etc. It would, however, be a mistake to characterize this as a continuation of those early triumphs, the Trevor Rabin period, or any other Yes incarnation. For the first time in many years, Yes has gone in an entirely new direction with this recording.
First of all, I would say that this is the best integration of rock music with a symphony orchestra ever recorded, with the possible exception of the Moody Blues' DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED. The orchestra here replaces the missing keyboard in the Yes sonic lineup with spectacular results. The sound is totally organic and uncontrived.
Next, the music has a structural energy and content integrity that I haven't heard from Yes in the last several outings. This is not what some long-time fans have labeled "Yes lite", the hook-filled anthems that have characterized the last few albums and that, while satisfying in their own way, were not as compositionally advanced. This music has a captivating complexity that lends itself to multiple hearings, but in an entirely new way than earlier recordings. What it lacks in Yes' characteristic time signature changes, etc., it more that makes up for with sonic depth and texture.
This is truly a Yes for the new century. The band has matured into something altogether new, which wonderfully compliments and adds to its earlier efforts. Congratulations!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2001
Yes began 33 years ago at the tail end of the British invasion. Mixing original tunes and cover songs from the Beatles, CSN&Y, and Ritchie Havens, Yes was distinct, eclectic, vocally assured, and instrumentally inventive right from the start. Their third album - The Yes album - released in 1970, however, was a quantum leap, propelling the band to new musical heights and a series of classic albums: Fragile, Close to the Edge, Yessongs, Relayer, and Going for the One. By 1983 Yes' avante-garde and progressive approach gave way to a more commercial style. To be sure, a blockbuster single like "Owner of a Lonely Heart" consolidated the band's success, helping to maintain the group as a viable entity, through the 80's and 90's. But radio friendly tunes like "Love Will Find A Way" and "Lift Me Up," however pleasant, were a far cry from the creative ambitions of "Close to the Edge" and "The Gates of Delirium." 1999's The Ladder, however, signaled a return to form, containing an album of Yes music that came closest in sound and spirit to anything Yes had done since their classic period. With Magnification Yes surpass themselves yet again, creating quite possibly their best album since Close to the Edge. "Spirit of Survival" is almost certainly some of the most distinctive Yes music since Roundabout. Chris Squire's hypnotic bass line swirls like an unrelenting tempest, while Steve Howe attacks notes like a coiled scorpion. Vocally Jon Anderson and the band have never sounded better, and the orchestra provides Yes with one of its most beautiful and haunting codas ever. And "We Agree," "Magnification," and "Dreamtime" are very solid additions to the canon of Yes classics and near classics. 33 years is a long time in the life of a band. Magnification is almost certainly Yes' best effort in decades. With a strech of albums that include: Keys to Ascension I & II, The Ladder, The House of Blues, and Magnification Yes is a band that can claim to have more than one classic period.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 2001
I saw Yes in concert (Clearlake, CA) on their "Magnification Tour"; hearing new songs and old favorites to the accompaniment of the 50 piece "Yes Symphony Orchestra" was awesome.
The same symphony orchestra plays along with Yes on all (brand new material) tracks to this album. Another commonality is that lyricks on all tracks relate to (mainly Eastern) religion.
To those that bought the somewhat dissapointing "The Symphonic Music of Yes" - this is different. The Orchestra really enhances
(Magnifies??) Yes' ability. Yes is more a part of the Orchestra than vice versa. Well orchestrated and great lyricks - reminds me of Yes' golden era.
To those that have followed Yes from the early 70s, this is a real refreshing album. I am convinced that it will be amoung the hallowed classics of Yes. Chris Squires, the fantastic bassist, really is showcased on many tracks. Steve Howe is as likely to play a Spanish Guitar as a Fender. I think the catchiest track is "Dreamtime". It opens with Howe on Spanish Guitar interacting with the bass violin; after some great lyricks; there is a dramatic bass/percussion sequence with the bass and the string section playing off each other. I think that sequence will soon become one of Yes' most recognized.
This is well thought out music, consequently not spontaneous.
I give 5 stars to Yes' classics: Fragile, The Yes Album,Close to the Edge but thumbs down to much of the 80s and 90s. There were hints of Yes' coming back on "Keys to Asscention, II". This is Yes' comeback album. Probably not in terms of commercial success, but in terms of the band's intergrity to their music. This album is not as rock and roll as the early 70s classics, but it is as inspired. 30 years changes us all, but in this album the band really works together and with the orchestra to put together a very inspired work. I heard it took 1 1/2 years to record. This is definatley amoung the band's top 7 works and refreshing to those of us who thought that nothing more truely original would emminate from "The God's of Prog!".
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2004
I approached this album with certain trepidations.My 70's Heroes hadn't had much luck recently with their studio efforts,continuing with this release,too---discouraging Jon Anderson(vocals) to this day from another new one.With the 'classic' band reunited,fans are encouraging the band to try the studio one more time.As Gandalf always said...'We shall see'. This album,gets a bad rap,then,almost by omission-noone's heard it!And more's the shame,for it IS beautiful.Seldom,if ever have I heard a better collaboration between band,orchestra and composer/conductor/arranger.Larry Groupe,who has numerous tv and movie credits on his resume,should always make sure he includes this project henceforward.His self-professed love of the band can clearly be heard,and he functions as a member of Yes from beginning to lovely end of the album(check out the bittersweet string quartet that closes the recording!..."tears in his eyes,I guess"...!).It is quite possible that he is the true star here,or at least amongst them.He is not the only one,though,that shines.Vocally,this is Yes' finest album since the 1970's-Period!Anderson,whose voice has defied time,has perhaps NEVER sounded better.Chris Squire's backing vocals also return to old form,and his bass rumbles and chugs along,almost reminiscent of 'The Yes Album' days.Steve Howe's guitars,although seemingly - at first - buried in the mix,are also in top form,which bodes well,for he is amongst the finest players of our time.Alan White's drumming is as stalwart and powerful as ever,and perhaps more creative than anything since since 'Relayer'.The power of these four players has been sadly underrated for so long;check out also the 'Yessymphonic' DVD from the tour that followed to see just exactly what I mean about the 'Power Of The Four'. From the first few moments of the the first and title track,'Magnification',it becomes clear.THIS is still a vital-alive and creative unit.As the album evolves, new Yes classics emerge.'Give Love Each Day'is moving and lovely,not in spite of,but because of it's(for lack of a better word)schmaltziness.And the orchestral intro to it was good enough for the band to subsitute it for the usual 'Firebird Suite' intro we all know so well on the ensuing tour.'We Agree' gets better with each listen.'In The Presence Of' is ANOTHER new, true Yes epic classic.The recordings' closing tune,an uncharacteristically brief(for Yes,around 2 minutes)and simple little lullaby,'Time Is Time',is more moving because of these qualities,and it's placement there,at the end,following the epics.And,Oh!That(aforementioned) string quartet coda!...Can you tell I love this album?...or what!?!... If YOU'VE always loved Yes,and you haven't heard this,first of all,shame on you!And secondly,do yourself a favor and buy it NOW,and spend an hour with it.You'll never regret it.And if you've never loved Yes,it's quite possible that this recording could change your whole perception of them. This represents the best work this band has done in the studio for perhaps a quarter of a century.A modern classic,sadly underrated and generally unknown.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2002
I have been listening to Yes music since 1975 and I find this record the best thing they have done in many years. If you like classic Yes, and you are ready to appreciate the use of an orchestra, this is for you. Probably the orchestra would have bothered me when I was 18, because at that time the keyboards solos and textures were all to me! But just listen to the marvellous orchestral introductions to "Give love each day" and "Can you imagine"... and you will not miss Mr. Wakeman a single second. Here for the first time in many years we find Yes proud to come back to their old original style, not trying to be "modern" as they did in the previous two albums (which were quite deceiveing to me). The music in this album is very close to Relayer, Fragile and Topographic. It's a Yes classic masterpiece. Listen to the acoustic guitar and to the bass guitar lines, and you'll recognise the trademark that made famous the band in his classic era. Of course, you'll need to listen to the album a few times, in order to fully appreciate it. But that's the way it was with every prog album back in the Seventies !. And the only "commercial" track, "Don't go", is amusing, very simple and very catchy, a perfect pop song to fit in an epic album ! Buy it !
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2002
This is no sentimental approximation of greatness, this is the real deal. I grew up listening to the "classic" Yes albums, and never thought or expected (or even necessarily wanted) the band to create anything that stirred me as much as, say, "Awaken", "Sound Chaser" or "And You & I". But here it is. "Magnification" leaves no doubt that the magic has been rekindled, and the band have, in fact, created something very special here. I am not suggesting that this recording in any way surpasses or rivals "Close to the Edge" or "Relayer". But hear me: "Magnification" stands on its own as new Yes classic. The overall sound brings to mind "Going for the One", as well as Chris Squire's "Fish Out of Water" albums. There is nothing sentimental or pathetic about this album. The music and lyrics strike me as genuine, sincere and inspired. I haven't seen Yes in concert since 1984, and now I am hoping (for the first time in almost 20 years) that I get the chance to see them once again. This recording will be in heavy rotation in my home for a long while...
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2002
I was very surprised after hearing this CD for the first time...as well as after about 20 additional listenings. While I have liked just about everything Yes has done over the years (including Drama and 90125), I have found that only a few recordings consistantly find their way to my player. This has been especially true since I have discovered many of the newer prog greats like Porcupine Tree, Under The Sun, and Spock's Beard, etc. Like most Yes fans, my favorites tend to be the classic recordings like Close To The Edge or Relayer, but guess what...this stands up! And it stands up in a way that Yes recordings have failed to do in several years: Magnification bears repeated listenings! I am a keyboard player, but I do not miss that missing element because the orchestra accentuates the music so well. Is this classic Yes? Sure, but in a "modern Yes" context. After all, did Crimson's Construcktion of Light sound like Red? NO! Will Rush's Vapour Trails sound like 2112? I somehow doubt it. As such, Magnification is a departure for Yes in the sense that it is progressing toward something radically different from what the rest of the pack is doing. This, to me is a 4-star effort, but I have given it 5 because in comparison to recent Yes recordings, this blows them away.
P.S. For all the Metallica fans: this is how an orchestra should have been used on the S&M cd.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2006
It is astounding that I have read a bunch of reviews of this album and hear polar opposite opinions of the same exact lyric or tune!

One person thinks Jon has gone over the edge or is at his worst, yet another thinks he is at his best (btw, the person who said his 'once-crystaline-now hoarse voice' has no clue what he/she is talking about. His voice sounds exactly the same as it always has). One person thinks "If we were flowers we would worship the Sun...so why not now?" is brilliant (including me) yet another thinks it's the worst thing he's ever written. One says the is their best since Relayer [or insert another album title here] yet another says it's their worst ever! Someone says Soft as a Dove is the worst thing ever put on a Yes album yet another finds it soothing/sublime/peaceful/lovely, etc.

The bottom line? You can't please everyone. Afterall, there ARE bad reviews of Fragile, Close to the Edge, and The Yes Album out there too people. For people to say that one album is 'their best' and compare it to another is giving an opinion based on nothing other than his/her personal taste. But heck, that's what these review boards are for right?

But the problem is that everyone hears music differently and we can't go by another's opinion at all - and neither should Yes. The fact that I happen to think this IS their 'best since...' only means something to me. The fact that I think everything they've done since GFTO is garbage only means something TO ME. So don't listen to me. Don't listen to others. JUST LISTEN TO THE ALBUM.

That all being said, I personally think it's wonderful because I DON'T compare it to anything they or anyone else has done. You can't compare art with other art. Art stands on its own - regardless if someone thinks it's a masterpiece and another thinks it's trash.

All I know is that every time I take this out of my CD player and put something else on, I can't wait for that something else to end so I can return to this. That's how much this album has touched me personally for what it's worth.

Peace.

***EDIT - 8 Years Later***

So I've lived with this album for the past 8 years and it's even BETTER now than it was when i wrote the review above in 2006... and I loved it then!!! Pardon the cliche' but this album is truly like fine wine that has aged beautifully. I recently made a playlist including ALL the studio work from YES right up through the recent Heaven & Earth. And after listening to everything again, and some albums that I hadn't listened to for over a decade, I can now say that Magnification is my FAVORITE Yes album of all time with Tales From Topographic Oceans a VERY close 2nd. Yes, you heard me correctly. :)

While most Yes fans continue to fawn over The Yes Album, Fragile and Close To The Edge, when i go back and listen I can't listen to Fragile AT ALL (sick of those songs to be honest). The Yes Album is very good. Close To The Edge is still magnificent. But after hearning the tracks CTTE and And You And I live during the Magnification Symphonic Tour, I can't listen to the studio tracks anymore!!! Yes' peformance of those two songs in 2001 are the BEST performances EVER of those tracks and the orchestra takes these songs to places that VERY few songs ever transcend to. I'm not exaggerating. Pick up the DVD Yes Symphonic Live and see for yourself. So even the classic Yes songs sounded their best during this symphonic era (where they also played Gates of Delirium and Ritual with the orchestra - OH... MY... GOD....what astounding performances).

So YES - PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, reunite with Jon, do more orchestral work, and make me cry one more time from the depths of my soul before you call it a day. I beg you!!!
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