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Yes - Fragile CD (album) cover

FRAGILE

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

4.42 | 2367 ratings

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James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It is said that familiarity breeds contempt, but the more common result is ambivalence. Perhaps hearing "Roundabout" and "Long DIstance Runaround" a few too many times on AOR stations dulled slightly my appreciation of this classic album.

However, I remember my first few rounds with the album as a whole, and it was not these two songs which grated; it was the indulgent and incoherent asides that bookened them. "Cans and Brahms", existing seemingly for the sole reason of showcasing Wakeman's skill and elevated taste, now rightly resides firmly in the 'period piece' category alongside other Wendy Carlos knock-offs (including a stupefying number of Kieth Emerson tracks). The next track, "We Have Heaven", is a pointless vocal round that throws innumerable Andersons (and a few Howes and Squires, with their barely competent vocal qualities) at us while offering next to nothing as far as song, instrumentation, and emotional or narrative content. Side One is only saved by the rocking and haunting "South Side of the Sky", where Wakeman performs one of the few truly lovely passages of his career: on an acoustic piano, no less.

The second side fares slightly better. I could object to the aimless jamming that is "The Fish", except that it provides an interesting fade-out from "LDR"- much like "Wurm" did for "Starship Trooper" (though one must admit that "Wurm" was much more of a culmination to the piece, rather than a stylistically related improvisation). I could also object to "Mood for a Day", as this is not a Howe solo album (thank goodness- have you ever listened to the stylistic mish-mashes and song-poor collections with which Howe expresses himself? I have nothing but admiration for his guitar work, but he's most definitely best as a team player). On the other hand, "Mood" is so lovely and such a perfect lead-in and contrast for the moody and beautifully structured "Heart of the Sunrise" that I must let it pass.

In truth, "Fragile" is two incredible songs, and two quite good ones, laced with indulgent and distracting filler. Simply removing "Cans" and "Heaven" (and foreshortening "Fish" as in the AOR version of "LDR") would have given the band almost six minutes to include another classic song...or at least another solid "Roundabout"-caliber track. Which would have earned an additional star from me, a goal which I'm sure YES had firmly in mind :)

James Lee | 4/5 |

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