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Yes - Fragile CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.45 | 3647 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars "Fragile" is the perfect way to describe an album whch benefits from three first-rate prog expeditions, but is structurally hindered by a collection of short, insignificant solo musings. The long songs are as impressive and enjoyable as those on 'The Yes Album', in fact, they are much better. But the flow of the album is spoiled by the five little snippets of individuality, which scream "filler" from the outset...

Roundabout is as advertised; with an interesting intro, catchy chorus, appropiate synth bursts, furious bass, tight rhythm, and a hammond organ solo that in my opinion, is the first "mind-blowing" moment in Yes's career (perhaps 'Starship Trooper' before that, but only live). 'SSOTS' is even better. It's verses (of which there are five, my only complaint) are hard-hitting and contain some of Howe's most interesting improvisations. It's the well placed piano/vocal break that really hits the spot though. From Wakeman's chilling piano motifs, to Squire and Anderson's beautifully lyric- less harmonies, this is a complex three minutes that any prog fan will love to bathe in. Then to close the album, we have 'Heart of the Sunrise', which is even better than 'South Side'. Perfectly constructed in it's "jigsaw-puzzle of themes"-like way, with Yes's best contrast of dynamics yet, and a climax that epitomises the entire album, this song has stood the test of time and remains Yes's most creative and dynamic 10 minute song.

It is therefore a shame that the tracks which fill the gaps between these three masterpieces (and the other mediocre group piece 'Long Distance Runaround), are too varied in style, depth, length, and seriousness to be pleasant. And even when they are enjoyable, still ruin the flow of the album. My problem with them, is that each one isn't long enough or expanded enough to be taken seriously; they are literally just "ideas" without any context to each other or the album. Squire's 'Fish' is groovy, and Howe's acoustic piece provides a calm moment of reflection before the epic 'HOTS', but even they are random and brief. And these five "things" can hardly be described as intentionally experimental when they were only included as a way of filling up the 40 minutes. They remind me of some of the stuff on the Floyd's 'Ummagumma'; unrelated and uncohesive, purely there to add weight to an average live album. I mean, they could have tacked these pieces together and made them into a fourth 10-minuter. It would have been a disatserous song but at least more coherently in keeping with the rest of the album's nature.

So Fragile for me, is three songs. Three songs that can only be located by rummaging through a litter bin of electric Bach, sarcastic Brufrod, and overdubbed Jon Andersons (which also make a cheeky re-appearance at the end, irritatingly pushing 'Heart of the Sunrise' out of your memory...)

thehallway | 4/5 |


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