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Yes - Fragile CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.44 | 3229 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars This review will be one of the most ballooned one I've ever done; it has a personal significance with me.

I had really not been into music for most of my life except for the last year of high school and first semester of college when I started dipping into seventies rock. At the time, Rush and Pink Floyd were quickly becoming my fav bands, but I really didn't know how to categorise them. A little Internet browsing led me to learn about a genre called progressive rock, and I had to naturally seek out other bands in that genre since I loved Rush and Pink Floyd so much back then. Yes was one of the first artists I sought out.

I had heard very little of Yes before hand barring bits and pieces of ''Roundabout''. I was milling through a Borders store one day and there it was, Yes's FRAGILE album. I wanted to purchase it since it had ''Roundabout'' on it, and I did and took the album home with me. Needless to say that once I pushed the PLAY button on my CD player, my life would change forever.

Everything I had heard before then suddenly seemed to pale in comparison to what Yes produced here. Even if I had heard the riff to ''Roundabout'' beforehand, throughout the whole song I was on the edge of my seat, taken aback by the crushing guitar riffs, soaring vocals, piercing basslines and powerful organ solos. Being a bass player, I couldn't resist that Chris Squire sound that is prevalent throughout the whole album. It has that rich tone and hard edge that was just begging for me to notice.

There a unique type of sound that Yes exerts here, and it's not just from Squire's bass and Anderson's vocal work. Bill Bruford excels here in the drumming department, providing tight rhythms and solid grooves without ever overdoing it. It has that sense of complexity without overdoing it; a good example of this is on ''Heart of the Sunrise''. Steve Howe's guitar is also very crucial to the Yes sound as it can riff, solo and plunk away with the best of them.

I want to discuss the meat of the album now, the actual songs themselves. In FRAGILE, there are five solo type pieces Yes did. Rick Wakeman's ''Cans and Brahms'' and Steve Howe's ''Mood for a Day'' are nothing but nice pieces showcasing the talents of the respective performers. Bruford's ''Five Percent for Nothing'' is a crazy little short piece that comes and goes. My two favourite solo pieces are Anderson's ''We Have Heaven'' (very addicting to me) and Squire's ''The Fish'' (the central groove is amazingly catchy, and all of the bass tricks on top are just bonus).

''Long Distance Runaround'' isn't that much of note, but it's still a solid song and perfectly segues into ''The Fish''. It's a nice, short little tune that kinda has that pop sound, but I think ''Roundabout'' pulled it off much better. Speaking of, that ''Roundabout'' was the first Yes song I really sank my teeth into. It has very catchy, jumpy basslines, dexterous guitar work and excellent drumming. There's a solid rock core to the song that makes it sound accessible, yet has enough inner complexities to give it depth.

But I haven't gotten to the two songs that will really make proggers go nuts. Firstly, ''South Side of the Sky'' has a very overt heaviness to it, almost like a proto-prog-metal thing. The heavy sound on the bass is intense, but the piano lines during the choir section are just fantastic. But then there's the pseudo-epic in ''Heart of the Sunrise''. It has this intense instrumental opening broken up by this funky, bass-led thing. It gets very quiet when the vocals come in, but the intensity of the piece keeps wavering up and down throughout the entire thing, going through different motifs without sounding stale or tired. But the very end of the piece is well worth sitting through the ten minutes that came before, making the epic feel complete and purposeful.

I feel like I went into too much detail on this review. I also feel like I ballooned my rating to masterpiece when the shorter pieces and possibly ''Long Distance Runaround'' could've easily made another keep this at four stars. However, I feel that on FRAGILE and the following CLOSE TO THE EDGE, we have the quintessential progressive rock sound. It's a great springboard for any new progster to get into the genre as THE YES ALBUM is a tad too spotty and CLOSE TO THE EDGE can get slightly long in spots. But despite any possible shortcomings, this album is one I would highly recommend for anyone interested in prog. I am shutting up soon.

On a bonus note, Yes does an amazing interpretation of Simon and Garfunkel's ''America'', although the guitar solo section gets a little too long-winded at times. The keyboard and bass parts are well worth the listen, though.

Sinusoid | 5/5 |


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