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Yes - Fragile CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.44 | 3386 ratings

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4 stars "Fragile" was the first Yes album to make a major impression on the American music charts reaching number 4 which, in contrast is a major difference in chart positions compared with the band's first three albums. Out of 'Yes', 'Time and a Word 'and 'The Yes Album' the highest chart position was 'The Yes Album' reaching number 40. Of course, Yes was already established in England as being one of the forerunners of progressive rock and had quite a large English fan base. But when Yes was realised and accepted by the American music scene, this is when the band really began to swing into action.

I guess most of this success was due to one song, "Roundabout" which charted at number 13 in America and it attracted almost an entire generation to Yes's music. Indeed, even today it is one of the trademark songs of Yes and progressive Rock. It fuses basic rock elements with experimental synthesizers and mystical concepts from Jon Anderson. Fragile also heralds the arrival of the legendary Rick Wakeman, who brought with him an array of experimental, and unknown synthesizers and electric keyboards. Yes's previous albums used such devices but not nearly to the same scale of virtuosity or experimentation as "Fragile." This was probably due to the fact that Rick Wakeman is a more accomplished keyboardist than Tony Kaye .Not to say that Tony Kaye is a bad keyboardist, rather its just that Rick Wakeman is probably the best progressive rock keyboardist (please don't kill me!)

Anyway with the arrival of Rick and his keyboards, the entire band seemed to have lifted and become more creative and we can see here some of the best guitar work from Steve Howe and groundbreaking bass work from Chris Squire (not un-similar to The 'Yes Album'). Bill Bruford as usual displays his freakish skills on the drums and Jon Anderson's creative vein kicks in. There is a concept to "Fragile", or at least it lead to a concept on Jon Anderson's 'Olias of Sunhillow.' On the front cover there can be seen a world, and from the world emerges a ship which escapes as the planet is split in two. The idea behind this is an alien race who escapes from their plant on a ship called the Moorglade which is built by Olias. Hence this is where the concept of 'Olias of Sunhillow' emerged from.

There isn't really anything about the concept on "Fragile", save the cover work and possibly "We Have Heaven" which obviously influenced the sound of 'Olias of Sunhillow.' "Fragile" is set out in an unorthodox way for Yes, there are the "centerpiece" songs so to speak which are then separated from each other by shorter experimental or supporting songs. Some may argue that some of these songs aren't really true tracks, but there is a certain subtly that makes them a worthwhile inclusion. The three centerpiece songs so to speak are "Roundabout", "South Side of the Sky" and "Heart of the Sunrise", all of which go up as some of the best Yes songs around. "South Side of the Sky" in particular is a highlight, the feel of it blends with the album so very well and it excels at portraying a windy, snowy landscape. The interaction between the members on "South Side of the Sky" is essential for this song to work, and apparently it is very difficult to perform live. There is a good live version of the song on 'Songs from Tsongas Yes 35th Anniversary Concert DVD.'

"Heart of the Sunrise" takes influence from King Crimson's '21st Centaury Schizoid man', the main theme/run is the same except Yes have built upon the original version by adding a denser tone to it. The likenesses between the songs end there and the rest of "Heart of the Sunrise" is completely different. "The Fish", although very short I consider to be a classic Yes fusion of Steve Howe and Chris Squire, amazing stuff. "Long Distance Runaround" is not quite a centerpiece or add-on; it's in the middle somewhere. "Cans and Brahms" is a Wakeman keyboard solo, an adaptation of 'Brahms's 4th symphony in Eminor Third', as the name would suggest. "Mood for a Day" is Steve Howe's solo on acoustic guitar, in terms of speed and virtuosity it is a wonderful song. 'We Have Heaven' consists of several vocal parts all sung by Jon Anderson, interesting song.

1. Roundabout (5/5) 2. Cans And Brahms (3/5) 3. We Have Heaven (4/5) 4. South Side Of The Sky (5/5) 5. Five Percent For Nothing (3/5) 6. Long Distance Runaround (4/5) 7. The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus) (5/5) 8. Mood For A Day (4/5) 9. Heart Of The Sunrise (5/5) Total= 38 divided by 9 = 4.222 = 4 stars Excellent addition to any prog music collection

During my time at Prog archives I've learnt to give five star ratings sparingly, taking the word in its literal sense. Sadly "Fragile" is one album which suffers, I'm not going to go as far as saying the side pieces degrade the album but they aren't substantial enough to be rated too high, how could I give a 38 second song over three stars(except if we're talking 666)? I love Yes, they are my favorite band, but I'm not going to bend my own rules and give " Fragile" five stars, even if it is one of their classic albums. I'll just say that it is a healthy four stars and an excellent album. I'd recommend "Fragile" to all Yes and symphonic fans, it is essential as far as symphonic dudes are concerned. The remaster version of "Fragile" comes with the long version of "America" and a run-through version of "Roundabout", as well as good packaging with the special edition version.

Australian | 4/5 |


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