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Yes - Fragile CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.45 | 3661 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Fragile was not only the first Yes album I owned but the first "classic 70's prog" album I bought altogether.

This record is really, really good, great at times, even marvelous at moments. But there's a problem to be found: of the nine tracks that make Fragile, 5 are insipid, showing-off little pieces carved by each one of the YES men, that don't even reach their goal of really showing off their performing capabilities. The remainder of the album is of the highest quality, but we have to say it: when one listens to the whole album from start to end, it feels somewhat incomplete, fractured, broken. And we have to say thanks for that to the five "personal ideas" recorded in between good songs.

Roundabout (10/10) , The most popular YES song, for me is the best YES song ever. This track exudes energy, adrenaline in a way unknown in most of music. The incredible bass line by Squire is a thing for the ages in its driving power, its blood-pumpin' force. From the beginning this song is a prog-rock fan's dream. Howe's acoostic guitar suddenly turns into the demonic main verse. Squire bass line: perfection. Anderson nails it flawlessly at singing this marvelous song. Wakeman's playing is suberb, too. The middle part, with a heavy rhythm, makes for a nice, precise interlude, a moment of rest from all the demonic energy. The sound fades into the acoustic introduction by Howe over twirling keyboard arpeggios. Anderson sings so quietly. The tension builds up again, and finally, like a breath of fresh air, the energy appears to be trying to come back, a little solo, a crescendo, and the main verse strikes back with all its perfection.

Cans And Brahms (5/10) What's the point? I don't know. Did Wakeman try to show us how good a keyboard player he was? Well, the piece is pretty simple. Did he try to show us what a masterful musician he is, being able to adapt Johannes Brahms's Fourth Symphony's third movement? Not really, for his adaptation sounds poor, the master from Hamburg would have collapsed hearing this. Useless.

We Have Heaven (5/10) Now it's time for Jon Anderson to blind us with his light. A simple melodic line sung over percussion, more vocals and acoustic guitar. Poor.

South Side Of The Sky (8.5/10) Now we're talking again. The main theme gets repeated too much, but besides that, the song is pretty good. The interlude with the piano is really good.

Five Percent For Nothing (5/10) Bill Brufford's turn to dazzle us. He actually was going to do it, his idea was not bad, but it ends almost as soon as it starts. Too short. What could've been a good showing-off track ended up being a joke.

Long Distance Runaround (8/10), this song is very good, but not great. It's just too bland. But Anderson's performance here stands out, The song ends suddenly, abruptly, that hurts it even further.

The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus) (6/10), another one of the "personal ideas". Squire once again proves his skills. The piece in itself is nothing to write home about but the sounds Squire produces with his bass show his ability. Decent, nothing more.

Mood For A Day (6/10), the best "personal idea". It's nothing amazing but it's a pretty little acoustic guitar track. Very melodic, intimate, peaceful. Heart Of The Sunrise (9.5/10) The beginning is perfect, virtuosic, ambiguous, the bass line plays with us. Brufford grooves like a master. Wakeman provides ethereal harmonies, Howe slowly but surely makes his reapperance, and the hurricane-like figure emerges with all its power. Anderson says present with great vocals over very quiet guitar; the bass takes the guitar's place, then the keys; Anderson suddenly raises his voice; another twirling figure in keyboards, guitar and bass show us YES' art. Near the end of the track, a weird sounding vocal part somewhat damages the song, but not much.

This album, with just the four proper songs and maybe Howe's instrumental could've rivaled Close to The Edge and Relayer as YES' best album ever. But it's ultimately a flawed masterpiece, worthy of 4 stars.

The T | 4/5 |


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