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Yes - Fragile CD (album) cover

FRAGILE

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

4.46 | 3772 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

mr.cub
5 stars

Many will tell you that this album suffers from the solo material. Honestly, I do not see the flaw in that material, with exception that the solo material on Side 2 is far superior to that on Side 1. The band compositions are exceptional, expanding on the ideas explored on the Yes Album and entering new territory. Enter Roger Dean artwork and you have the beginning of 4 or 5 glorious years.

Rick Wakeman's keyboard work on this album provides Yes the ability to create powerful mood and feeling yet still develop the complex song structure they experimented with on the Yes Album. Throughout the album, Wakeman plays exceptionally well; from the bombastic organ solos and fills on 'Roundabout' to the chilling piano interlude on 'South Side of the Sky', Wakeman establishes himself in the same way Howe did on the previous recording.

'Roudabout' is an excellent opening song, acoustic guitar flourishes by Howe begin the piece. Then Chris and Bill come in, one of the tighest and explosive rhythm parts these two produced (see track 9). Many who are getting into Yes will be referred to this song and Chris' bass. Personally, Wakeman's keyboard fills are a thing of beauty, flying all over the place; that and Howes guitar during the chorus (In and around the lake) are noteworthy. Yes then proceeds to go into a heavier section, Howe's guitar and Chris' bass providing a strong foundation. After that fades away, Wakeman's keyboards take over with Howe repeating the opening theme over the top. It is here that the band descends into an all out prog-jam fest; Wakeman and Howe trading solos as Chris and Bill work around them. An essential piece of music with an ending to die for: da-da-da-da-daaaa-da-da

'Cans and Brahms' and 'We Have Heaven' are Wakeman's and Anderson's respective pieces. Wakeman's is an interpretation of a Brahms piece. It isn't nearly as energetic as it could be, and is a dissapointment considering what Wakeman could do. The latter of the two pieces is actually catchy as anything, a very unorthodox piece but Jon never ceases to amaze with his melodies.

And then we move on to 'South Side of the Sky'. Wind, lightning and rain in the intro provide great backdrop for the music: cold, expressive and razor sharp (especially Wakeman's piano solo). Listen to Chris and Bill come in towards the end of Wakeman's interlude, so fluid and dynamic. Bill's drums are phenemonal: incredibly complex, well suited for the piece and so controlled at the same time. The band eventually returns to the main theme, a powerful and aggressive melody that captures the bleak landscape evoked in the lyrics. If there ever was a time Yes' lyrics molded with their music in perfect harmony, this is it was starters. Howe finishes the piece with a solo that will send chills down ones spine.

Side 2 begins with 'Five Percent for Nothing', a throwaway track by Bruford and titled in jest. 'Long Distance Rounaround' is the first traditional song on this side and the mood ladies and gentlemen is the complete antithesis to that found on the last piece. A wonderful introduction that transitions into Jon's vocals. Bill's drums and Wakeman's piano provide the rhythm with Chris and Steve playing the riff in unison. All parts working working as one to create an electric piece of music. The piece develops into what is 'The Fish'. Steve's guitars are all over this piece, Bill locks into a tight 7/4 groove with Chris. A great piece of music that only gets better live.

'Mood For the Day' exhibits Steve's incredible skill as a classic guitarist. This piece is more developed than his effort on the previous effort. Very lovely melodies, contrasted with Spanish flamenco and extreme dexterity and mastery of his instrument.

So after that trip through the hills of Spain on a lovely late summer afternoon, the sun setting in the west with your love by your side, you are suddenly transportated to a darkest part of the city, alone and engulfed in the stench of the slums.'The opening riff to 'Heart of the Sunrise' is haunting. Bill, Steve, Chris, and Rick all playing in unison at a breakneck tempo in 6/8. They then go off into this 4/4 section, with a great bassline by Chris and Steve playing a variation of the main riff. Returning to the 6/8 riff for a few more runs around the block, the band then tones it down drastically with Jon's soft and reflective lyrics set amidst the atmospheric palette set by Rick and Steve. Any description would be superfluous as it is really one the most moving sections of music I have heard. Tremendous combination of songwriting and performance (especially vocal by Jon). They return to opening riff a couple times, intertwined with another clever riff. The piece is then textured with Rick's short piano interludes, which are accentuated on organ alongside the opening riff. Jon's vocals take center stage towards the end of the song...the opening riff ending abruptly into silence...and then a 'We Have Heaven Reprise'.

One of Yes' finest recording, the cover of 'America' in the bonus tracks is also worth listening to. That makes this incredible album even better. An essential piece of progressive rock music and worthy of every listen. The band would only get more exploratory in their future projects; this first one with Wakeman is worth every penny. Enjoy!

mr.cub | 5/5 |

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