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Yes - Fragile CD (album) cover

FRAGILE

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

4.44 | 3281 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 30

"Fragile" is the fourth studio album of Yes and was released in 1971. However, it was only released in US, two months later, due to the chart momentum of their previous third studio album, "The Yes Album" released in the same year. It was the first album from the band, to feature the art cover of Roger Dean, which would become an emblematic artist in the progressive rock music. The album reached number 7 in England and number 4 in America.

The line up on "Fragile" is Jon Anderson (lead and backing vocals), Steve Howe (backing vocals, electric and acoustic guitars), Rick Wakeman (Hammond organ, grand piano, RMI 368 Electra piano and harpsichord, mellotron and Moog synthesizer), Chris Squire (backing vocals, bass guitars and electric guitar) and Bill Bruford (drums and percussion). It's the first Yes album with Wakeman, who left Strawbs after their third studio album "From The Witchwood". The previous Yes former keyboardist was Tony Kaye who left the band in 1971. He joined to the ex-Yes guitarist Peter Banks, on the group Flash. Probably, this is the best line up of Yes, which is connected to some of their best albums.

"Fragile" has nine tracks. I'm going to divide the album's tracks into two distinct parts. The four tracks composed, arranged and performed by the band and the five tracks which are individual ideas, composed, arranged and organized by all five members of the group, individually. I'm going to appreciate them with a different attention.

The Yes' tracks are: The first track "Roundabout" written by Anderson and Howe became one of the best known tracks of Yes and one of the most played live by the band, with several versions, on diverse live albums. An edited version was released as the A side on a single, with "Long Distance Runaround" as the B side. It represents the result of the new, collective and more inventive sound of the group, never heard before, and shows the musical power of Yes. The fourth track "South Side Of The Sky" written by Anderson and Squire is another great composition with superb harmonies. This and "Roundabout" are two of the most powerful songs on the album. I want to draw your attention, for those who don't know yet, that there is a new version of the song released by Glass Hammer, which opens their ninth studio album "Culture Of Ascent" released in 2007. This album has also the participation of Anderson on vocals. In my humble opinion, Glass Hammer is a very interesting band, and this new version and the album itself, are really very good. The sixth track "Long Distance Runaround" written by Anderson is the smallest track of the band's songs. It's perhaps, the most charming of all "Fragile's" songs, with Anderson singing, while Howe's guitar and Wakeman's keyboards, noodle beautifully together in the mix. The ninth track "Heart Of The Sunrise" written by Anderson, Squire and Bruford, is the last band's song. It became as also one of the best and most popular songs to be played live by the group. This is the best track on the album and it binds together the gentle and bombastic musical atmosphere and the fiery technicality that are portrayed on the album. It also shows several aspects of Anderson's great vocal abilities.

The remaining five tracks are the individual songs of all band's members. The second track "Cans And Brahams" is an adaptation by Wakeman, containing extracts of the Brahams' 4th Symphony. The third track "We Have Heaven" is a personal idea of Anderson. The fifth track "Five Per Cent For Nothing" is the Bruford's track written on his usual percussive line. The seventh track "The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)" is the Squire experience, where he uses the different sounds on his bass guitar. Finally, the eighth track "Mood For A Day" is a classical piece of music, played on an acoustic guitar, and represents the Howe's personal moment on the album.

Conclusion: "Fragile" isn't clearly a uniform musical effort made by the group. The band's tracks "Roundabout", "South Side Of The Sky" and "Heart Of The Sunrise" are all excellent and deserve to be rated as three masterpieces. The band's track "Long Distance Runaround" is also an excellent track, but without quality enough to be comparable with the other three tracks. About the individual five tracks, sincerely I think they're in general uninteresting. With the exception of "Cans And Brahms", which is an interesting piece of classical music and "Mood For A Day", which is a good piece of acoustic guitar music, all the others three tracks are disconnected and don't deserve make part of this album. "Fragile" was completed in less than two months, especially because they needed a new album to pay all the new Wakeman's equipment. Probably, this was the main reason, why the group created individual songs to release the album as soon as possible. In my humble opinion, "Fragile" is an unbalanced album, and is far away from the quality level of "Close To Edge". Sincerely, I even think that "The Yes Album" has better and timeless compositions. But "Fragile", only because the band's songs, is a more adventurous album which defined their sound, for years to come.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |

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