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Yes - Fragile CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.46 | 3797 ratings

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5 stars This was one of the few progressive albums that actually broke through and for a short while achieved mainstream popularity, mainly on the strength of the prog classic "Roundabout." The album is one of Yes's more accessible, even the longer tracks are melodic and instrumentally exciting enough to interest a prog neophyte. And, for most prog afficiandos, it goes without saying that "Roundabout," "South Side of the Sky, "Long Distance Runaround," and "Heart of the Sunrise" are golden age progressive classics. Never have five musicians fused so completely to produce music so insistently provocative. But the piece that deserves a special attention all to its own the one that follows the melodic joyride "Long Distance Runaround," that is, Squire's tour de force "The Fish."

I can think of no other rock song that brings to the listener's attention the wide-ranging power of the bass guitar like this tune does. From the moment it begins its segue with the plucked harmonics to the fading outro where all the various bass lines are woven into a pulsating, undulating river of sound, this piece never lets up. (And Bruford's contributions must be give its due--very tasteful percussive moments in this piece.) But what's radical here is Squire's choice to craft an instrumental built bolero-style entirely out of sounds created on various bass instruments--acoustic and electric. He introduces each new rhythmic line and allows it call out its theme before again building another on top of it. And he crafts it in such away that none of the lines inhibits the others; each has its unique pitch and timber. Indeed, it's almost a lesson in the power of bass rhythm and how creatively it can be if worked by a master of the instrument. Especially powerful rhythmic bits include a deep, punching four-note bass riff at the lowest end of the bass register as well as one in which a single sustained high-pitched electric bass note is overdriven to such total distortion that it rides out the tune as an insistent buzz, contributing an edgy urgency to the mayhem. By the end of the piece, you're so caught up in the funky, polyrhythmic wildness that you're wishing it would go on for another 20 minutes or so.

Following this album, Yes would go on to craft their magnum opus "Close to the Edge" and would continue in this fertile vein through "Going for the One." In the sobering hindsight of 30 years, "Fragile" stands out as one of the few albums that not only defined where prog rock was going at the time, but still stands as a supreme example of it to this day. Five platinum stars.

bluetailfly | 5/5 |


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