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Yes - Fragile CD (album) cover

FRAGILE

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

4.45 | 3599 ratings

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resurrection
3 stars FRAGILE

Fragile is yet another example of what YES is all about , musicians indulging themselves in every way they can. The challenge for such a band is for the individuals to take account of each other, and most of all, for the band to take account of the substance of what they are delivering.

Roundabout begins promisingly, a lovely acoustic opening with atmospherics I have never heard on any live version of this song. As a plus, the song is a better piece of work than you would normally associate with YES, and Jon's voice, which can be grating, sounds good in the mid-register instead of the determinedly high notes. The bass is overly treble, which can be good on notation, but poor in terms of bottom bass for the band to sit on. Naturally, Chris Squire's early band Syn had the same problem.

Can & Brahms sounds gimmicky, there is something wrong with the sound of the instruments used. Perhaps they are meant to sound authentic, and certainly, the boring part is authentic enough. We can clearly hear why Wakeman's playing never really lent itself to Rock, he was always a straight classical player, with excellent technique but no dynamics. He uses sound textures and sustaining synths to go some way towards that goal, and proving his intelligence by realising he has to. As naked as he is here, it plods and sounds like it can't even take itself seriously

In We have Heaven, Yes show that although arrangement is a real strength, composition isn't.

South Side of the Sky. What a nice title for a song, beginning with wind, atmosphere...then drums and disappointment.

5% for Nothing is cleverness for its own sake, the downside of prog. At times Crimsonish and Frippish, only the organ restores some sanity.

Long Distance Runaround:- After a guitar sounding like a spaced-out Bert Weedon, and a tendency to out-Crimson Crimson, part of this sounds like a welcome return to the band's Beatle roots, at least striving for a tune, though Jon's voice at times sounds almost incidental, and uneven at times too, wavering out of tune on several occasions.

The Fish is a nice arrangement waiting for a song to be fulfilled. A waste of atmospheric guitars and splendid strident drums.

Mood for a Day has a nice acoustic guitar sound, but a determined cleverness results in quite a few fluffs and stumbles, sometimes the price of over-improvisation.

Heart of the Sunrise contains vocal meanderings, but nice riffs that are suddenly transformed into 21st Century Crimson Man and beyond into Echoes by Pink Floyd. Could have been a great piece, but ends up pointless, no song at all.

YES simultaneously conjure up all that is good and bad in Progressive rock. It's not entirely their fault. They are musicians first and foremost, and musicians are a different breed from songwriters. The downside of the Beatle's recording their own songs brought in the era of everyone feeling they had to do the same, resulting in excellent musicians making very good records that had poor or non-existent songs. Musicians also want first and foremost to play, to indulge their talents, the songs, or singer for that matter, is almost incidental to them. A lot of the time, the other musicians on the stage are to be disregarded in the search of their own ego and expression. In that sense, Yes have done well to hold the band together as a unit, despite all the tensions and traumas, and have still made interesting music, albeit it flawed - and Fragile. 3 stars.

resurrection | 3/5 |

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