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Yes singles part 18 – Magnification – 340

Magnification and Symphonic Live
Magnification and Symphonic Live

Produced by Robert Nasir, Jeffrey Crecelius, Wayne Hall, Preston Frazier and Bill Govier

We consider the singles (if any) from Magnification this week and talk about that album alongside Symphonic Live. There’s also time for a Two Pence segment on the ARW revelations this week!

  • Were there any singles from Magnification?
  • Does the orchestra work well?
  • Did the band miss a keyboard player – including live?

Listen to the episode then let us know what you think!

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Yes Music PodcastYMP patrons:

Robert Nasir | Jeffrey Crecelius | Preston Frazier | Bill Govier | Wayne Hall |

Joseph Cottrell | Michael O’Connor | Paul Tomei | Geoffrey Mason | Lobate Scarp | Fergus Cubbage | Steve Dill | Steve Scott

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Theme music

The music I use is the last movement of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. This has been used as introduction music at many Yes concerts. My theme music is not take from a live concert – I put it together from the following two creative commons sources: thanvannispen and

9 replies on “Yes singles part 18 – Magnification – 340”

Yes another excellent and thought provoking episode. Magnification is one of those records that makes me wonder whether a band like Yes were ill-served by the cd format.

Within that very very long record there is a fantastic 38 minutes or so of music that you could stand next to anything else after Going For The One. That old fashioned lp’s worth contains everything that I love about the patchwork that is Yes and none of the sleek shoulder-padded schlock of the MTV years . The good bits are so very good that I am not even bothered by the clunkier lyrics (which is where The Ladder tends to fall down in that the Sting-isms are musical as well as lyrical).

Anyway …. imagine them making the same record with only 38 minutes ish to play with. Is it possible that the advent of the cd format meant that some creative arguments for which their 70s work is famous were resolved simply by letting everyone have their own way? Maybe instead of musical issues getting worked through to get to the best 40 minutes available there were “you can have that if I can have this” type trade-offs.

9-11 aside, the other thing that I think would have worked against them in 2001 (and since) is the packaging. I think it is very hard to get lapsed fans back in the fold and reaching for their credit cards without a Roger Dean sleeve. For me he’ll always be a member of the band (far more than Eddie Offord or even some of the musicians who have passed through the ranks) and I think that is true for a lot of people who grew up in the period when those six classic covers were first issued (I am including Yesterdays here). If there is a Roger Dean cover on a Yes record then that is a pretty good indicator of what you are going to be getting musically.

When it comes to Steve Howe’s apparent change of heart about this record I think the electric guitar (even in those hands) inherently struggles against traditional orchestration. Especially when the guitarist in question is so involved with textures, exploring the different sounds of the instrument and interesting chords and voicings. Steve is not a Zappa or Steve Vai type player reeling off long melodic Paganini type solos and I suspect that a guitar player in that mode (aping the role of the solo violinist or cellist) does a lot better as they are not battling for space in the mid range. Orchestras (and especially string sections) by their very nature fill all the holes where innovative guitar players tend to prosper.

He fares better on the Symphonic live set but it is still a bit of a struggle at times. On the subject of which does anyone know why there was no official release of the Masterworks tour? The soundboard recording I have from a US show on that tour is magnificent. The ensemble playing simply remarkable.

As for ARW I cannot say I am surprised that it is already over. As has been said a great many times the music they are playing (and the Yes music people will pay to hear in large numbers) simply does not suit Rabin’s gifts as a musician. If they had gone out just doing 90125, Big Generator, Union and Talk songs plus Roundabout then that would be offering fans something a) creatively valid and b) truly different from Yes itself. However I think they would be lucky to sell 1500 tickets a night in most cities with that kind of set list (which is I think the kind of business Anderson / Wakeman were doing in what ever year that was – 2008?). What I fear is that Anderson and Wakeman will continue muddying the waters calling themselves “Yes featuring …” and this embarrassing **** show of competing line ups will continue unabated.

Hello Ian,

I’m in total agreement with you about the CD format working against them for this release. While I do love it…if they were limited to 40-43 minutes I’m hoping songs like Soft as a Dove. ..Time is Time would have been left off. Can you imagine a release with just Magnification. .Spirit of Survival. .Don’t Go..Can You Imagine and In the Presence Of.
By the way I’ve been saying that about the CD format for tons of episodes. I say..just because 80 minutes fits on a CD..doesn’t mean you need to fill it.

Totally. That is the exact version of the album I listen to. at home, not the other bits and bobs are bad it’s just that they *are* bits and bobs filling space and not great songs that demand inclusion.

You are right in all you have been saying as the cd format really did cause problems for artists who suddenly had to come up with a double’s worth every album.

I think it made things worse for a band like Yes where Bruford’s “democratic to a fault” thing means there were at times five “leaders” all looking to get their way.

What is rarely mentioned when the cd format is talked about is that the original 12″ lp format was the length it was because of the length of the average symphony pre Bruckner. The idea was to get a symphony on one disc with minimum interuptions. So the fact that 38 minutes feels so right to us is in our collective European-tradition musical DNA. I love Mahler but even I get a bit shuffly in the last movement of the 3rd!

Hello Gentlemen,
Great show as always personally I really loved this album and live show I hate to admit it but this would have been my last live Yes show.
I cannot believe its been 17 years already but time fly’s….. Having seen Relayer ,Tales, Close to the edge, Going for the one,Tromato,and Drama, this album is right up their with them all I believe.
I know they have a lot of great music in between however I have my favorites no doubt and have all of these on vinyl and loved them all. Iv’e also seen all the Trevor Rabin shows as well as Union but I believe that Magnification holds it’s own hands down and Yes has always gotten a raw deal on all there music sad but they have managed to stay around for fifty years.

Hey Paul,

Great to hear from you. I agree this album definitely got a raw deal. But if I were you…I wouldn’t be ashamed to say the Symphony tour was the last time you saw them. Especially after reading that you saw the Relayer..Going for the One. .Tormato. .Drama tours!!
I’d love to have seen those.

Another great show. Re the Yes-ARW “Live at the Apollo” vinyl release, it’s limited to 3500 copies on orange vinyl, available at Amazon, with a release date of Sept. 7.

Well, not so much about Magnification – a perfectly fine album, and while it may be the lowest seller of their catalog, I certainly don’t think it’s their weakest effort – or Symphonic Live (my all-time favorite version of “Ritual”)… on the subject of bands who were adversely affected by the events of 9/11 2001, I’m pretty sure Dream Theater is the runaway winner (except for anybody who was actually supposed to be playing at any clubs that might have been in the area!). Their live album “Live Scenes From New York” – which was actually recorded over a year earlier – was released ON September 11, with cover art depicting the Manhattan skyline in flames… and pulled from shelves before the sun went down that day. Too bad, as it’s a document of an extraordinary concert almost four hours in length, but has a bit of an infamous reputation because of those uncontrollable factors.

Hi Joseph,

Thanks for commenting. Being a huge Dream Theater fan…I vividly remember this situation. .which was sort of unfair for the band. As you said a lot of that album had been prepared months before 9/11 I thought it unfair that people in the media called the album “in poor taste”. Plus being native New Yorkers I thought they would do anything to insult their hometown.

Thanks for discussing Magnification again. On my personal list, I rate it as the best post-Keys album. (I go back and forth on whether it is “better” than the KeyStudio material or even the best since Going for the One – but I’m sure that’s a controversial opinion.) Maybe it’s too long, but there is some sublime stuff on it. Even the filler songs are good, and a lot better than much of the Big Generator-Union era material. I don’t skip over any of the songs. Tragic that Magnification sank with little recognition and that it was Jon’s last studio album. But despite the sales, I’d say Jon went out on a high note. 😉
(And thanks Kevin and Mark for reading my concert review. Wish they’d played two nights in my neck of the woods ….)

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