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Yes - Fragile CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.44 | 3390 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars Heavy duty

After firing Banks to make space for Howe, little did Tony Kaye expect the boot to allow the young prodigious Rick Wakeman in the fold and let the group reach its "classic" line-up, where all of the members are acclaimed virtuosos at their respective instruments. This is the album that opens the group's legendary collaboration with Roger dean's art, even if Fragile is hardly his best work? actually, behind its very strong/striking theme it's rather clumsy and the famous Yes logo still has to find its definitive form. While I wouldn't call Fragile a concept album, there are some hints of things to come, but still to be refined. Indeed the idea of letting every member compose a solo piece was a dangerous bet, and they mostly lost it.

Opening on the now-overexposed Roundabout, the album is off to a flying start, but is stopped by Wakeman's adaptation of a Brahms theme, a catastrophic blunder not auguring well his Yes-ian career. Surely Howe ate an orange Peking duck plate while Rick bored audience with such daft ideas. Surprisingly enough Anderson's We Have Heaven is one of the better solo pieces disgracing the album, unlike the poor Bruford but aptly-titled piece 5% For Nothing. Another classic, but sometimes forgotten about is the tremendous South Side Of The Sky track, which holds the advantage of still sounding fresher than its companion pieces.

The shorter Long Distance Runaround is also another classic yes song and its lyrics seem to answer the Roundabout opening the other side of the album. if one Yes member has an oversized ego, Squire is certainly running for the gold medal and his Fish piece (although not bad, per se) is certainly nothing to prove himself superior to the others, but will insist on this piece being his showcase live extravaganza, which often neared ridicule and over-infatuation. The excellent Howe piece Mood For A Day is an echo of the previous album's Clap piece. The closing masterpiece Heart Of The Sunrise features Squire's outstanding bass breakneck lines a nd this is where the Squire becomes a Knight. Sunrise is probably my fave with Awaken, with Disgrace just behind.. It is a little sad that this album is (only slightly) spoiled by expandable solo pieces from every member although Jon and Steve do theirs very well. For the rest this is a real fine follow-up to Yes Album and the first real classic for most as the Dean cover points out. BTW, some of the Fragile remastered versions have some bonus tracks, including that fabulous rendition of Simon & Garfunkel track called America (actually it fits quite well the Fragile soundscape), so if you own the Yesterdays compilation, don't bother; but if you don't, you might want to consider looking for that updated version, Not exactly their best album, but it is an unavoidable classic

Sean Trane | 4/5 |


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