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Yes - Fragile CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.44 | 3242 ratings

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The Mystical
5 stars A musically understated classic.

While Yes' subsequent releases are more pompous and majestic, "Fragile" manages to be a masterpiece without instantly shouting "here I am". The album is practically flawless, and in my opinion it is rather understated. What makes this album unique Yes' other releases, is that each member was given an opportunity to compose their own short piece of music to highlight their own musical abilities, conceptually similar to what Pink Floyd did with their studio album "Ummagumma".

Often when people speak about progressive rock, the words that come up are "complexity" and "virtuosity". "Fragile" is perhaps the most striking example of these aspects. The musicianship is superb, and the composition really brings out the best in each musicians playing. The sound of the band is very unified, yet the talents of each individual musician come shining through. I quote the inside of the vinyl gatefold cover, "Five tracks on this album are the individual ideas, personally arranged and organised, by the five members of the Band.". These five tracks are "Cans And Brahms" (Wakeman), "We Have Heaven" (Anderson), "Five Percent For Nothing" (Bruford), "The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)" (Squire), and "Mood For A Day" (Howe). Each of these tracks gives an interesting insight into each of the musicians' talents, even the cheesy "Cans and Brahms". The other four pieces have more of a unified sound, with three of these tracks being co-written by band members other than Jon Anderson. Jon Anderson is also given the entire writing credit for "Long Distance Runaround", which is a great track, but blends into the other solo composition tracks due to its short length.

"Roundabout" is probably Yes' second most famous song second to "Owner of a Lonely Heart", and with good reason. The band sound excellent. Each band member has a moment to shine in this track, and the track really brings the whole album together, due to the concept being that each member contributes their own piece. "South Side of the Sky" is another masterful composition, which contains some superb harmonies in the organ, guitar, and bass during the chorus. The cloud-like texture toward the middle of the song is a really wonderful moment, which leads us back to a reprise of the main melody, bringing Side One of the record to a climatic close.

The greatest of all the tracks on the album is "Heart of the Sunrise". This track is an incredible fitting end to a superb album. While "Roundabout" brings the album together conceptually, "Heart of the Sunrise" brings it together stylistically. This track binds together both the atmospheric and gentle atmospheres and the bombastic and fiery technicality that are portrayed within the album. Jon Anderson's vocals are spectacular in this track, and it shows several aspects of his vocal abilities.

The cover art is a superb summary of everything you will find inside...complexity, fragility, and at times atmospheric. While the album may pale a little in comparison to the three masterworks that come after it, it is an essential musical experience, and a masterpiece within its genre.

P.S. While the Elektra Reissue of this album has not completely butchered the album like the Rhino Reissue did with "Relayer", I highly recommend buying an old vinyl pressing of this album. Not only is the sound quality superb, the cover art is wonderful and adds to the whole musical experience.

The Mystical | 5/5 |


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