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Yes - Fragile CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.44 | 3224 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Five percent not spent in vain (okay, so I couldn't think up a better title).

Review number 300 and I finally roll around to this classic work from the masters of progressive rock, Yes's Fragile. This album was the first to showcase the talent of the wonderfully garbed and caped Rick Wakeman who would show his sparkle fresh out of The Strawbs on this album. The band has moved away from the somewhat psych-pop-prog styling of their previous album, The Yes Album, which showed the band hitting a wonderful niche which they'd still have one foot solid in while inching closer to the edge as they did. The playing on this album is sharper and the band seems to be exploding creatively as they collaborate to make some of their best signature pieces and a variety of solo ''shorts'' to be showcased on the album. Things are a bit more lively but a bit less organized than the last album thanks to the eclectic mix of backgrounds and influences from each member, but all in all we can see that the band is not far from reaching their pinnacle. Not far... but not quite there yet.

The individual songs on the album are quite memorable thanks to their overwhelming charm that Yes is so well known for. If ever you put on a Yes album you know what you're in for - uplifting riffs and keys paired with Anderson's high-pitched voice and non-nonsensical lyrics portrayed in a grandiose fashion by the lyrics. Things start to get more to the grandiose side of things on this album as compared to the last one since the band is here starting to get more accustomed to the whole ''pomp-rock'' thing as evident on the longer tracks like Heart Of The Sunrise with its surprisingly heavy opening riff and keys only to be toned down as Anderson's voice enters. Short, pop-ish, but no less impressive tracks still stand in the form of those like Long Distance Runaround which shows Yes at their closest to achieving second life as a rainbow (a very cheery song), and in the subsequent instrumentals which tie together to work to lengthen the tune like Chris Squire's soon to be namesake The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus) and Steve Howe's wonderful Mood For A Day.

Still, there's some things you wouldn't expect from the band. The opening tune to the album rocks so hard that no one could believe that it was Yes if not for the oh-so-Squire bass line that's involved. By now Roundabout has become a staple of the Yes canon, and for good reason, it stands as a testament that the bass can be played as a lead instrument, and songs over 8-minutes in length can obtain rapid FM air time. This is followed by two strange solo tunes, Rick Wakeman's interpretation of Cans and Brahms played in a very fun manner and Jon's a-Capella We Have Heaven when segues into one of the darkest songs ever published by the band. Surely Bruford was receiving some of King Crimson's evil powers prematurely when Yes wrote South Side Of The Sky, a dark tale which ends in death - hardly what we'd expect from these gents. Still, a standout among their catalog.

While the overall effect of the album may not stand as strong as later efforts, Fragile was still a well placed step for the YesMen, and from there they would go on to better things. Very much worth the investment and some might even say essential to a prog record collection. Essential? It sure is. Masterpiece is a bit of a strong word for the album, especially knowing what was to come from the band, but a strong 4.5 stars is to be awarded anyways. This is a classic Yes record, and every prog fan must hear it at some point in their lives.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |


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