During the tour for The Ladder, Igor Khoroshev became repeatedly involved with female security guards, leading to misdemeanor charges. This caused him to be fired from the band, and they were once again without a keyboardist. After an online vote, they chose conductor and longtime Yes fan Larry Groupé. The album was produced by Tim Weidner, and orchestral arrangements were recorded by the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. The cover was designed by Bob Cesca, although it still retained the iconic logo. This was the first time since Time and a Word that an orchestra was used. The album charted at #71 in the UK and #186 in the US. This was the last album to feature Jon Anderson. It was also their first album to be recorded digitally, using Pro Tools.
Jon Anderson: lead vocals, MIDI guitar
Steve Howe: acoustic and electric guitars, pedal steel guitar, backing vocals
Chris Squire: bass, lead vocals on “Can You Imagine”, backing vocals
Alan White: drums, percussion, acoustic piano
- “Magnification”: the title track starts with light and airy guitars, then a rumbling bass before the wood winds and percussion kick in. We hear some beautiful violins throughout the song. The song has great energy.
- “Spirit of Survival”:’The song starts with isolated vocals, before some acoustic layers. This is followed by a great bass and drum beat before the song enters full swing. The violins are a beautiful effect, with a great guitar solo at the end.
- “Don’t Go”: This has a bouncy feel as the guitars and violins play off each other.
- “Give Love Each Day”: This song has a great dramatic violin section before Anderson starts singing. There are gentle chords that build to a powerful chorus.
- “Can You Imagine”: This is the only song sung by Chris Squire, with Anderson on backing vocals. Despite this being such a short song, it still has time for some good vocals and guitar, with some nice violins and piano.
- “We Agree”: This has an intricate acoustic melody, with subdued vocals that allow the violins and percussion more presence. It has some nice production.
- “Soft as a Dove”: This has some nice wood winds at the start, before violins carry the song into a strong midsection.
- “Dreamtime”: The violins give this a very dreamy feel, with some nice dramatic ambience.
- “In the Presence of”: This suite starts with some beautiful vocals, building into White’s drums. The opening calms down after Howe has an excellent solo, then we get another beautiful melody. The song shifts to a slower tempo, but with an intense orchestra. This was one of my favorite songs.
- “Time is Time”: The album’s closer has a gentle feel with beautiful melodies and vocals. It’s a great way to calm things down.
Final Verdict: For such a late entry in the band’s history, this shows the band can still experiment with a new sound. The orchestra is not a mere gimmick, rather it is a new dimension, allowing the band to create beautiful sections for each song. It really made me wish I could have caught the band with its orchestra. The production is well done, and I think this is far too underrated.