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Yes - Fragile CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.44 | 3226 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Between the middle of 1970 and the last half of 1971, two wonderful things happened to Yes: Howe and Wakeman entered the line-up. "Fragile" was the first Yes album conceived and recorded under these most promising circumstances. and the promise was fulfilled with absolute magnificence. "The Yes Album" had shown a band reaching its maturity but not there 100 %. "Fragile" turns out to be the manifesto of a maturity conquered and self-enhanced. All the individual symptoms are here: Howe and Wakeman rule the Yessian melodic realms with their absolute skill and infinite inventiveness, Anderson's singing is more enthusiastic and compelling than ever (properly complemented by Squire's and Howe's backing vocals), Bruford shines like a demigod in his challenging drumming style, and Squire makes his bass a crucial rhythm element and a relevant melodic factor, both at once. The overall result is a most superb ensemble ready to push the prog movement to a brand new boundary of artistic excellence. 'Roundabout' kicks off the album with full splendour, a fiery light that still nowadays shines with the brightness of a classic. The same goes for the closure 'Heart of the Sunrise', one of the finest yes numbers ever, full of contrasts and linking every motif fluidly and consistently into a perfectly unitary amalgam: it is remarkable how such a long piece can keep things working in order to maintain an even level of epic drama all along, without ups and downs. 'South Side of the Sky' is another Yes classic, a great track that should have been part of their live setlists more often: basically it's a hard rocking piece with a jazz-oriented interlude that includes some mystic-like chorale section - Wakeman makes his piano parts intertwine beautifully with the various chanting counterpoints. The solo numbers are also quite impressive. Wakeman pays an orthodox but not-too-solemn tribute in 'Cans and Brahms', and Anderson displays a multi-layered vocal tour-de-force in the folkish gospel 'We Have Heaven'. Then, a door is slammed and someone's feet go running away in a hurry, until a sound of thunder and whirling wind give way to the aforementioned 'South Side of the Sky'. Bruford's brief piece 'Five per Cent for Nothing' is not a drum solo, but an exercise of collective counterpoint among all four instrumentalists. The complex yet catchy 'Long Distance Runaround' is segued into another multi-layered tour-de-force, this time carried on by Squire's amazing bass work. Meanwhile, guitarist Howe chooses a more relaxed pace with his exquisite Flamenco-oriented number 'Mood for a Day'. The album ends with a reprise of 'We Have Heaven', a closed door having been reopened as soon as the last echoes of the mellotron's last note in 'Heart of the Sunrise' vanished into the void. Either this has a deep, poetic meaning, or it's mostly a humorous coda, but all in all it is amusing and creates the feel of a full circle. Like thousands of prog fans, I regard "Fragile" as an absolute masterpiece of the genre, so it deserves nothing less than the maximum rating.
Cesar Inca | 5/5 |


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