Yes Magnification

The first keyboard-less recording in their 34-year career, Magnification finds British prog gods Yes boasting arguably their most classic line-up of vocalist Jon Anderson, guitarist Steve Howe, bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White. Unlike ELP, Metallica and the Moody Blues, who have all recorded with a symphony orchestra, Yes asked composer/conductor Larry Groupé to contribute to the album’s composition, arrangement, and production — not just adding a string section or two like on 1970’s Time And A Word. The orchestra fills in the Rick Wakeman-inspired keyboard parts and magnifies the output for a fuller surround-sound effect. The neo-classical title track and "Spirit Of Survival” tread upon familiar territory frequented on 1999’s The Ladder, and "Dreamtime” even contains snippets from Grieg’s "In The Hall Of The Mountain King” symphony. "Don’t Go” and "Can You Imagine” hearken back to the band’s mid-’80s poppiness, when guitarist Trevor Rabin made Yes chart-toppers again with 90125 and Big Generator. A definitive album highlight, "Give Love Each Day” sports horns mindful of Magical Mystery Tour-era Beatles while augmented by Anderson’s ballad-esque lyrics and Howe’s signature soaring solos. Prefaced by White’s gentle piano, the four-part suite "In The Presence Of” expands all these elements for ten minutes; very typical of the band’s old haunts. There are many imitators, but no one comes close (well, except prog super group Transatlantic) to generation-spanning Yes, still mesmerising and inspiring the 30-something throngs. (Beyond)