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Yes - Fragile CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.45 | 3661 ratings

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5 stars It's difficult to explain what makes "Fragile" so effective; suffice to say that where "The Yes Album" told tales of faraway places, "Fragile" takes you there. The addition of RICK WAKEMAN adds a sense of humor and unbound energy to the arrangements, but it's the intricate interplay of BILL BRUFORD and CHRIS SQUIRE that most account for the album's achievement. "Fragile" is an oddly effective balancing act between powerful epics and solo showcases, the latter releasing the improbable pressure built up by songs like "South Side of the Sky" and "Heart of the Sunrise." The opening "Roundabout" ushered in the band's American breakthrough, with WAKEMAN's inspired keyboard playing suggesting ELP on overdrive. By contrast, his lighthearted reading of BRAHMS' 4th Symphony on "Cans and Brahms" is a perfect release. ANDERSON's "We Have Heaven," featuring layered vocals and acoustic guitar, is a fine example of the singer's airy presence and Beatlesque harmonies, lulling the listener into a false sense of security for the tumultuous "South Side of the Sky." After an intricate introduction from BRUFORD entitled "Five Per Cent of Nothing," listeners are treated with "Long Distance Runaround," where the charging-bull bass of SQUIRE careens into the graceful lines shared by STEVE HOWE and WAKEMAN. It's on this song, as much as anywhere in their catalog, that the five musicians fuse their separate identities into a shared ideal; the result is, in a word, stunning. Squire sustains the momentum with "The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)," his bass bubbling along like a musical water bong. HOWE adds the sophisticated and Mediterranean-flavored "Mood for a Day," an acoustic guitar solo that is arguably the most memorable of the members' solo turns, and again the trap is set for the pummeling introduction to "Heart of the Sunrise", which walks between the sublime and the scalding in ways that make "Perpetual Change" look clumsy by comparison.

"Fragile" conjurs sonic maelstroms, employs artfully conceived arrangements that defy deconstruction, rests on the aeries of Olympus, and plants the flag of progressive rock at its highest point to date. It's also the first YES album to feature the artwork of ROGER DEAN, in case you're into that kind of thing.

daveconn | 5/5 |


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