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Yes - Fragile CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.44 | 3236 ratings

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Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars While the previous album was certainly a masterpiece, this one introduces the classic Yes sound, thanks in no small part to the addition of the Mellotron and the mini-Moog synthesizer. Another original Yes member is gone, and this time it's Kaye, despite his gradual improvement from the first album. But just as Howe proved to be a much needed member of Yes, Wakeman would prove to be extremely important in the development of the band. Chris Squire is not content to remain a mere rhythm section player; in most Yes music from here on out, the bass guitar stands out as much as any lead instrument. There are only four tracks in which the band really performs together, as the other five are meant to demonstrate the respective skill of each member. All the solo spots do demonstrate, however, is this one thing: The sum of Yes is always greater than each of the individuals themselves.

"Roundabout" As soon as Howe begins that easily recognized acoustic guitar introduction, progressive rock fans know what they're about to hear. The punchy sound of Squire's Rickenbacker 4001 is the most dominating of all the instruments most of the time. The lyrics reflect the rather nonsensical but optimistic nature most of Anderson's lyrics will take. Reflecting the importance of proving their choice to replace Kaye was a good one, Wakeman takes to the organ with a rollicking couple of solos. After a section heavy on vocalizations from the singers in the band, Howe repeats an acoustic riff from the introduction, but ends the song on a major chord.

"Cans and Brahms" This is Wakeman's solo spot. It's a somewhat hokey arrangement of Johannes Brahms's work that, perhaps due to the instrumentation, makes this sound like a child's television program's theme song from yesteryear.

"We Have Heaven" This is Anderson's solo spot. Like Wakeman's, it's something of a silly throwaway. Layers upon layers of Anderson's voice and acoustic guitar make up ninety-nine seconds of this record. This section will inexplicably be brought back at the very end of the album.

"South Side of the Sky" Arguably the darkest song on the album, "South Side of the Sky" features some blistering guitar work, Wakeman's finesse on the piano, and Anderson and Squire's clever vocal work. It starts with some sinister howling wind effects and Bruford introduces the band with several raps on his snare and toms. While I really like the song, I think the verse sections themselves reoccur far more often than they should.

"Five Percent for Nothing" This is Bruford's solo spot. It sits highly among the most trivial thirty-seven seconds of progressive rock music, and that's all I have to say about it.

"Long Distance Runaround" This is one of Yes's major breakthroughs on mainstream radio; it's short structure and catchy melody make it a prime candidate, and yet it clearly maintains the Yes sound. A guitar cadenza bridges this song with the next piece.

"Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)" This is Squire's solo spot. It has several bass guitars layered over one another, and the parenthetical title is repeated again and again as everything fades out.

"Mood for a Day" This is Howe's solo spot. Unlike all the other solo segments, only one instrument is used- a nylon-stringed guitar. This piece has a Spanish flamenco feel.

"Heart of the Sunrise" The album's closer is one that admittedly took some time for me to get into. The raucously discordant and partially chromatic introduction can be hard to enjoy at first. The song jumps from loud to quiet parts, and the styles vary from part to part. There are a lot of jazz and classical influences present. Like many of Yes's lyrics, their meaning is mellifluous; while they do literally refer to sunrises and being lost in the city, Anderson has claimed many things over the years about the song's meaning. For all its qualities, "Heart of the Sunrise" remains one of Yes's most popular songs among their longtime fans.

Epignosis | 4/5 |


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