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Yes - Fragile CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.44 | 3234 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Among Yes' classic albums, FRAGILE has always been the one I liked least. The main reason is I first got to know the band's other masterpieces. After the grandeur of CLOSE TO THE EDGE, RELAYER, YES ALBUM and (parts of) TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS, tracks such as "Roundabout", "We Have Heaven" and "Long Distance Runaround" seemed silly and superficial. Even "Heart of the Sunrise" sounded like a fairly crude cut-and-paste job. (To make things worse, I first got acquainted with that song's live version on YESSONGS, where the band are in full flight and their performance is much 'heavier' than the studio version.)

Nowadays, I still don't play FRAGILE in its entirety, but the latest re-master (as of June, 2007) has mellowed my attitude. "Roundabout" now sounds clearer, crisper and more exciting than it ever did on a record player. With Chris Squire's Rickenbacker well to the fore, it's easy to understand why this tune helped the band conquer the United States. "Mood for a Day", Steve Howe's acoustic solo piece, sounds really friendly and charming, while "Cans and Brahms", Rick Wakeman's keyboard adaptation of a Brahms symphony movement, sounds jolly and cute. (I have always assumed the title contains some kind of pun but, not being a native speaker of English, I fail to see what it could be. If you happen to know, please send me the answer!)

For me, the album has two terrific highlights. One is the slow(ish) bass riff in "Heart of the Sunrise", which kicks in after the "Schizoid Man"-derived intro. As Wakeman's mellotron emerges, Bill Bruford uses the riff as a base for some delightful embellishments on drums. You thought drums couldn't sing? Think again.

The other highlight is "South Side of the Sky", in which all members of the band get a chance to shine. Jon Anderson's lead vocals are incredibly powerful (singing about a snowstorm helps), Rick Wakeman ALMOST tops Keith Emerson on grand piano (a shame Rick's piano sounds so tinny here), Chris Squire leads the 'wordless vocals' passage with aplomb, Bill Bruford plays those drum breaks introducing the first and final verses with inimitable mastery, and Steve Howe ends the song on a blistering guitar solo.

If you haven't bought FRAGILE yet, now is a better time than ever, as the album comes with two fascinating bonus tracks: an early mix of "Roundabout", and Yes' extended, ten-minute cover version of Paul Simon's "America", which (because of its extensive intrumental passages) is just as much fun as "Yours is no Disgrace" or "Siberian Khatru" - although not quite as original and daring as the latter.

fuxi | 4/5 |


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