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Yes Fragile album cover
4.46 | 4073 ratings | 318 reviews | 62% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Roundabout (8:29)
2. Cans and Brahms (extracts from Brahms' 4th Symphony in E Minor, Third Movement) (1:35)
3. We Have Heaven (1:30)
4. South Side of the Sky (8:04)
5. Five Percent for Nothing (0:35)
6. Long Distance Runaround (3:33)
7. The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus) (2:35)
8. Mood for a Day (2:57)
9. Heart of the Sunrise (10:34)

Total Time 39:52

Bonus tracks on 2003 Elektra remaster:
10. America (10:33) °
11. Roundabout (early rough mix) (8:35) *

° First issued on 1972 "The New Age of Atlantic"
* Previously unreleased

Line-up / Musicians

- Jon Anderson / lead & backing vocals
- Steve Howe / electric & acoustic guitars (flamenco on 8), backing vocals
- Rick Wakeman / Hammond organ, grand piano, RMI Electra-Piano, electric harpsichord, Mellotron, Moog synthesizer
- Chris Squire / bass, backing vocals, guitar (1)
- Bill Bruford / drums & percussion

- Eddy Offord / co-producer, engineer

Releases information

Artwork: Roger Dean

LP Atlantic ‎- 2401 019 (1971, UK)

CD Atlantic ‎- 19132-2 (1986, Europe)
CD Atlantic ‎- 82667-2 (1994, US) Remastered by Joe Gastwirt w/ extended "Heart of the Sunrise"
CD Elektra - 8122-73789-2 (2003, Europe) Remastered by Dan Hersch & Bill Inglot w/ 2 bonus tracks

Numerous reissues

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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YES Fragile ratings distribution

(4073 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(62%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
Good, but non-essential (6%)
Collectors/fans only (1%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

YES Fragile reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by corbet
4 stars Yes is a band that's hard to talk about, because their music for me represents a kind of rare perfection that sets them apart from "prog-rock" in general, and I'm especially tempted to start pushing the virtues of their most glorious recordings (TALES and RELAYER, of course). I gave in to that impulse when reviewing Close To The Edge -- this time I'll do my best to stick it out. Fragile is (duh) an absolutely necessary album to own and listen to, and this is of course where Rick Wakeman joins the fold, completing the band's aspiration for all-around virtuosity. Everyone is probably familiar with the classic track "Roundabout," but despite its radio airplay, this song (the full-length version) remains a masterpiece of the genre and should be listened to with fresh ears in order to appreciate all of its nuances. One of the tightest, most note-perfect rock music expressions, ever. On that token, "Heart of the Sunrise" is also a masterpiece of the genre, and should be listened to with fresh ears in order to appreciate all of its nuances (such as the most glorious drums/bass/mellotron passage ever recorded). Also, "South Side of the Sky" is a masterpiece of the genre, and should be listened to with fresh ears, in order to... ...
Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Heavy duty

After firing Banks to make space for Howe, little did Tony Kaye expect the boot to allow the young prodigious Rick Wakeman in the fold and let the group reach its "classic" line-up, where all of the members are acclaimed virtuosos at their respective instruments. This is the album that opens the group's legendary collaboration with Roger dean's art, even if Fragile is hardly his best work? actually, behind its very strong/striking theme it's rather clumsy and the famous Yes logo still has to find its definitive form. While I wouldn't call Fragile a concept album, there are some hints of things to come, but still to be refined. Indeed the idea of letting every member compose a solo piece was a dangerous bet, and they mostly lost it.

Opening on the now-overexposed Roundabout, the album is off to a flying start, but is stopped by Wakeman's adaptation of a Brahms theme, a catastrophic blunder not auguring well his Yes-ian career. Surely Howe ate an orange Peking duck plate while Rick bored audience with such daft ideas. Surprisingly enough Anderson's We Have Heaven is one of the better solo pieces disgracing the album, unlike the poor Bruford but aptly-titled piece 5% For Nothing. Another classic, but sometimes forgotten about is the tremendous South Side Of The Sky track, which holds the advantage of still sounding fresher than its companion pieces.

The shorter Long Distance Runaround is also another classic yes song and its lyrics seem to answer the Roundabout opening the other side of the album. if one Yes member has an oversized ego, Squire is certainly running for the gold medal and his Fish piece (although not bad, per se) is certainly nothing to prove himself superior to the others, but will insist on this piece being his showcase live extravaganza, which often neared ridicule and over-infatuation. The excellent Howe piece Mood For A Day is an echo of the previous album's Clap piece. The closing masterpiece Heart Of The Sunrise features Squire's outstanding bass breakneck lines a nd this is where the Squire becomes a Knight. Sunrise is probably my fave with Awaken, with Disgrace just behind.. It is a little sad that this album is (only slightly) spoiled by expandable solo pieces from every member although Jon and Steve do theirs very well. For the rest this is a real fine follow-up to Yes Album and the first real classic for most as the Dean cover points out. BTW, some of the Fragile remastered versions have some bonus tracks, including that fabulous rendition of Simon & Garfunkel track called America (actually it fits quite well the Fragile soundscape), so if you own the Yesterdays compilation, don't bother; but if you don't, you might want to consider looking for that updated version, Not exactly their best album, but it is an unavoidable classic

Review by Marc Baum
5 stars I can't get this brilliant acoustic guitar-intro from Steve Howe and the chorus in "Roundabout" out of my head! All other records in the 70's by Yes are full of such great moments and ideas, but specially on "Fragile" or "Close To The Edge" they are so unbelievable monumental that I must say that both albums (1. "Close To The Edge" 2. "Fragile") are the best of Yes. "Heart Of The Sunrise" is one of my Yes-faves, because of the great arrangements and heavyness and show why Yes are so innovative for a band like Dream Theater. Legendary and unreached!
Review by loserboy
5 stars "Fragile" was my favorite album throughout high school and to this day still remains as one of the most frequently played CD's from my collection. Although "Fragile" represents a selection of musical vinettes and has very little fluidity to it overall, it still works exceptionally well. Each musician is given the space to create some solo sonic textures which all work well together. Each song is a classic and reveals the high degree of talent and creativity in the band.
Review by lor68
4 stars Almost perfect and very influential as well... its score actually should be a bit inferior, but tracks such as "Heart of the Sunrise" and "Long Distance Round Around" alone are well worth checking out, a true enormus reference still today; moreover the acoustic guitar pieces of art, composed by Steve HOWE, ("Mood for a day" and "The clap) are memorable. "Roundabout" instead was an hit single and even though it is not my favourite one, is remarkable at least!

Essential as a true reference for every "prog fan", but also for the usual common listener of classic rock!!

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars One can compare "Fragile" to "Close to the Edge", like you compare "Foxtrot" to "Selling England by the Pound". "Fragile" is much better recorded than "Close to the Edge": the sound is much more intimate: the instruments can be better identified. Plus, Bruford's drums are quite more subtle and complex, and his cymbals sounds are quite cleaner. The tracks are much shorter (many only last around 3 minutes). Wakeman's keyboards are more conventional here, quite less floating: mostly organ and piano. "Roundabout" is the first track, very rhythmic, rock and catchy, full of bottom & complex bass. "Cans and Brahms" is a classical interpretation of composer Brahms, featuring Wakeman on very colorful & symphonic keyboards: a strong point on this record! "South Side of the Sky" has great piano, drums and vocals arrangements. "Five Per Cent for Nothing" sounds like a GENTLE GIANT track. Fish is a "wah wah" bass demonstration. The beautiful "Mood for a Day", featuring Steve Howe on the classical guitar, is very melodic and relaxing. The finale "Heart of the Sunrise" is one of the best tracks on "Fragile": Anderson's vocals are OUTSTANDING, and Wakeman uses judiciously mellotron, piano and moog keyboards: the song is long, and the progression is amazing: WOW!

Unfortunately, "Fragile" has not the catchiness & inspiration of "Close to the Edge". "Fragile" is technically OUTSTANDING, but I find the artistic value a bit lower than on "Close to the Edge".


Review by daveconn
5 stars It's difficult to explain what makes "Fragile" so effective; suffice to say that where "The Yes Album" told tales of faraway places, "Fragile" takes you there. The addition of RICK WAKEMAN adds a sense of humor and unbound energy to the arrangements, but it's the intricate interplay of BILL BRUFORD and CHRIS SQUIRE that most account for the album's achievement. "Fragile" is an oddly effective balancing act between powerful epics and solo showcases, the latter releasing the improbable pressure built up by songs like "South Side of the Sky" and "Heart of the Sunrise." The opening "Roundabout" ushered in the band's American breakthrough, with WAKEMAN's inspired keyboard playing suggesting ELP on overdrive. By contrast, his lighthearted reading of BRAHMS' 4th Symphony on "Cans and Brahms" is a perfect release. ANDERSON's "We Have Heaven," featuring layered vocals and acoustic guitar, is a fine example of the singer's airy presence and Beatlesque harmonies, lulling the listener into a false sense of security for the tumultuous "South Side of the Sky." After an intricate introduction from BRUFORD entitled "Five Per Cent of Nothing," listeners are treated with "Long Distance Runaround," where the charging-bull bass of SQUIRE careens into the graceful lines shared by STEVE HOWE and WAKEMAN. It's on this song, as much as anywhere in their catalog, that the five musicians fuse their separate identities into a shared ideal; the result is, in a word, stunning. Squire sustains the momentum with "The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)," his bass bubbling along like a musical water bong. HOWE adds the sophisticated and Mediterranean-flavored "Mood for a Day," an acoustic guitar solo that is arguably the most memorable of the members' solo turns, and again the trap is set for the pummeling introduction to "Heart of the Sunrise", which walks between the sublime and the scalding in ways that make "Perpetual Change" look clumsy by comparison.

"Fragile" conjurs sonic maelstroms, employs artfully conceived arrangements that defy deconstruction, rests on the aeries of Olympus, and plants the flag of progressive rock at its highest point to date. It's also the first YES album to feature the artwork of ROGER DEAN, in case you're into that kind of thing.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars "Tell the moon-dog, tell the march-hare, we have heaven"

I have always felt this was a slightly disappointing Yes album. Sandwiched as it was between their first real classic album ("The Yes album"), and their finest hour ("Close to the edge"), "Fragile" found the band momentarily over confident and self indulgent.

Musically, the band did not really progress from the great strides they had taken with the Yes album, the band tracks here representing more of the same. If anything, they took a step sideways or even backwards. A number of the tracks such as "Roundabout" and "Long distance runaround" being fairly basic commercial pieces, more in tune with "All good people" than say "Yours is no disgrace". These compositions are highly melodic and catchy, and while highly enjoyable, they are lacking in real depth.

"Heart of the sunrise" stands proud alongside tracks such as "Siberia Khatru", and "Yours is no disgrace" as one of Yes' best pieces. It is a highly structured piece with soft and loud segments, and some fine instrumental work. It is by far the most progressive, and probably the best, track on the album. The other band track here is "South side of the sky", which sounded great on their recent tours, but is in reality only an average album track.

Other than these tracks, the album does have a fair bit of padding in the form of solo tracks by the individual band members. In retrospect, allowing each member a solo slot was self indulgent and unnecessary. The space could have been put to far better use through the addition of another band track, or even the inclusion of their non-album cover version of Simon and Garfunkel's "America".

A good album, but something of a lull between the greats.

The recently remastered version of the CD has a number of bonus tracks, plus some lavish packaging with informative sleeve notes.

Review by richardh
5 stars Actually this isn't quite as good as Close To The Edge (what is???) but it's still difficult to find fault.From a personal perspective I find this a little 'hard edged' and maybe a little too much use of the Mellotron from our Rick.However that said 'Roundabout' is still one of the best things in prog while 'Heart Of The Sunrise' is just simply beautifull.Even the solo peices add a certain charm and certainly don't drag the album down as some like to suggest.Another must have album if you are a prog fan.
Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars YES were never one of my favourite prog bands, but to give "Fragile" anything less than 5 stars would be such a hipocrisy. This album is perfect, flawless and can be heard anytime without a second of feeling bored. I have noticed too many fives in these reviews altogether and I rarely give one but, as I said, this album deserves to be called a masterpiece of Progressive rock.
Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It is said that familiarity breeds contempt, but the more common result is ambivalence. Perhaps hearing "Roundabout" and "Long DIstance Runaround" a few too many times on AOR stations dulled slightly my appreciation of this classic album.

However, I remember my first few rounds with the album as a whole, and it was not these two songs which grated; it was the indulgent and incoherent asides that bookened them. "Cans and Brahms", existing seemingly for the sole reason of showcasing Wakeman's skill and elevated taste, now rightly resides firmly in the 'period piece' category alongside other Wendy Carlos knock-offs (including a stupefying number of Kieth Emerson tracks). The next track, "We Have Heaven", is a pointless vocal round that throws innumerable Andersons (and a few Howes and Squires, with their barely competent vocal qualities) at us while offering next to nothing as far as song, instrumentation, and emotional or narrative content. Side One is only saved by the rocking and haunting "South Side of the Sky", where Wakeman performs one of the few truly lovely passages of his career: on an acoustic piano, no less.

The second side fares slightly better. I could object to the aimless jamming that is "The Fish", except that it provides an interesting fade-out from "LDR"- much like "Wurm" did for "Starship Trooper" (though one must admit that "Wurm" was much more of a culmination to the piece, rather than a stylistically related improvisation). I could also object to "Mood for a Day", as this is not a Howe solo album (thank goodness- have you ever listened to the stylistic mish-mashes and song-poor collections with which Howe expresses himself? I have nothing but admiration for his guitar work, but he's most definitely best as a team player). On the other hand, "Mood" is so lovely and such a perfect lead-in and contrast for the moody and beautifully structured "Heart of the Sunrise" that I must let it pass.

In truth, "Fragile" is two incredible songs, and two quite good ones, laced with indulgent and distracting filler. Simply removing "Cans" and "Heaven" (and foreshortening "Fish" as in the AOR version of "LDR") would have given the band almost six minutes to include another classic song...or at least another solid "Roundabout"-caliber track. Which would have earned an additional star from me, a goal which I'm sure YES had firmly in mind :)

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Ough .. why bother reviewing old album? Two reasons: 1. This album remarks my first introduction to progressive music dated back on mid seventies (hey, at that time I was not aware on any genre of music. What I knew was: ROCK! That's it, nothing else); and this is NOW: 30 YEARS LATER!. 2. RHINO has just released this album in a nice digi- pack remaster expanded series altogether with other classic albums of YES. So, the above two enough to ignite me for this review. I might add another reason, actually, i.e. as reference for those who are new to prog music and willing to dig out the precious treasure of prog music. I got three reasons altogether! It justifies hah .? I am so happy also that this album is featured in the "School of Rock" movie.

Having gone through what I experienced three decades ago, I realize now how "fortunate" I was that this album was opened by a tune that really blew me up: "Roundabout" man ..!! This track is extremely wonderful, my friend! If it was not this track, I might probably never be in love with prog music. Probably. "Roundabout" has unusual structure : Intro-A-B-A-B-C-Intro-D-A-B-Closing. Dunno what I mean? Listen to the track and observe the melody! You would know what I mean then. Actually, the structure itself does not conclude the prog nature of this track. But if you notice, the transition between melody structure that make up this track justify this track is prog. What is prog, nayway? Opened by a guitar effect followed by acoustic guitar touch is enough to conclude that the track would be an exciting one to enjoy. You bet! When other instruments come into play, you will experience a mixture of sounds that rock but is different compared to other type of rock music (by then, I was listening to typical mainstream rock such as DEEP PURPLE, URIAH HEEP, LED ZEPPELIN). The "D" part of the structure is basically the what so called as "interlude" where Wakeman's punchy keyboard playing is combined with Howe guitar fill. The whole track is really excellent.

"We Have Heaven" was never be in my attention the first years I listened to this album. But when I watched YES Second Leg Tour in Singapore, 25 September 2003 (you may wonder how I can remember the date. Of course I do! I never seen prog band before. I had been waiting for YES performing live for approx 29 years! And most importantly, I got my face shot 'close-up' with Jon Anderson by my camera), I changed my perception. I like this track. Jon performed it very well in Singapore.

"South Side of The Sky" was another track that hit me the first time I listened to it. Opened with a stormy nuance, Bruford's dynamic drumming brings other instruments come into play and create such an excellent melody. It provides solid ground for Jon to sing. The solo piano part in the middle of the track contextualizes the whole track beautifully. Observe when the vocals part sing "na na na na na ." backed up by other instruments' sounds, you would enjoy this piece and try to emulate later. It's nice.

"Long Distance .." is track opened by Steve's solo guitar backed by Rick's keyboard sound. In this track I realize how the bass guitar sound really "walks the melody". It flows nicely with Steve's guitar melody at intro part. Chris' bass guitar playing is really dominant throughout the track. The track is closed by a stunning guitar solo that brings you to the intro of the next track "The Fish". These two tracks are best enjoyed as one track as they look like in the same structure even though the melody is different.

"Mood for A Day" is an excellent acoustic guitar piece. This track would later become the band's masterpiece as many music lovers try to play this piece. That includes me when I did try to become a guitar player.

Tell me if any human being does not like the closing track of this album "Heart of The Sunrise"!. This track is beautifully crafted and well-composed by the band. Opened with an upbeat tempo piece of music and then followed by immediate silent and then punchy bass guitar sound, combined with keyboard sound and stunning guitar. The intro part is really instrumental music for approximately "3:40" minutes before Jon sings "Love comes to you .". All of these are enough to make my adrenalin explodes, really. This track is masterpiece of prog music!

Here comes my rating: **** for sound (as it was recorded 1972), ***** for musicianship (I think all musicians contribute excellently in this album, and this is the best YES line-up, in my opinion), ***** for composition and ***** for performance. So, FIVE STAR for this masterpiece album. Don't call yourself a progger if you don't have this album in your prog collection! What do you think? - Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia.

Review by frenchie
5 stars Beyond and before this album, yes managed to build up their unique progressive sound and continue to evolve that sound in every album they released. The Yes Album, saw the band settling down to their prog rock soundscape, but Fragile took a leap in a better direction by improving the sound they had created. Fragile begins where The Yes Album left off, as it began with the simplistic "Yours Is No Disgrace" but ended with the more complicated and experimental "Perpetual Change". That sound pushed the limits of music and continued to do so on this excellent follow up album.

Fragile was acutally claimed to be a patchwork album, so it is remarkable that this turned to be one of the all time classic rock masterpieces! One reason for this was the addition of the piano and organ wizard, Rick Wakeman, who replaced Tony Kaye for this album. With Bill Bruford still in the band, this was the best Yes lineup of their whole career (Bill Bruford left after Close to the Edge and joined King Crimson. His replacement, Alan White, was luckily a great drummer too). Fragile showed off a new definition of sound. A good thing about this album what is missing from most others is that it was a mixture of proggresive rock songs and standard structured songs. This managed to attract more people into liking their sound.

The first short piece on this album is an exerpt from a classic piece. "Cans and Brahms" is a silly filler piece by Rick Wakeman, showing off his immense skill for about a minute or two. This song somehow feels comfortably placed being slotted inbetween "Roundabout" and "We Have Heaven", it manages to link the two together perfectly and keeps the flow of the album going. "We Have Heaven" is a crazy experiment in multi layered sound, experimental effects of doors slamming, footsteps and lots of different vocal parts being sang at the same time. This song can be mentally challenging or stimulating but it serves as another great short. "Five Percent For Nothing" is an awkward instrumental that lasts just over half a minute. This song enters rather rudely and i cant explain what it is i am hearing exactly, but it sounds damn good. "Mood for a Day" is a brilliant, emotional and dull acoustic piece but serves an excellent song that leads well into the frantic "Heart of the Sunrise". "Mood for a Day" certainly lives up to its title and shows a fragile, heartfilled side to the band, reminding us that modern life has always been rubbish.

The trademark lengthy pieces are still on this album and even more brilliant than the short tracks. "Roundabout" is the best song on the album, and one of the bands best ever efforts. A nine minute epic adventure involving acoustic guitars that lead into thundering basslines and a brilliant keyboard solo in the middle, ending with a mirror effect of the acoustic intro. Chris Squire's bass is magnificent on this track, the way it changes from the mellow intro to the rushing middle section is pefect. Jon's vocals are incredible as always but he really proves himself as an incredible and unique singer here more than anywhere else. "South Side of the Sky" is one of Yes' most beautiful pieces, crafted to perfection full of flowing structural change and the whole band playing to their best abilities. Rick Wakeman once again shines through here. Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman deliver their first major instrument battle in the frantic "Heart of the Sunrise", which leaves the album on a darker and frantic note. This reminds me a lot of "21st Century Schizoid Man" in the way of the speedy guitar riffage and the structure which has a slower middle section. This is excellent stuff.

Fragile is an amazing bridge between "The Yes Album" and "Close to the Edge" and is a favourite for any yes fan, but also a great starting point. Also any prog fans who arent into yes will love it. The album that introduced the world to Rick Wakeman. I'm bloody grateful.

Review by penguindf12
5 stars This was the first album I bought after passing through my progressive rock introductory Pink Floyd phase, and the one that eventually led me to the nerdy "prog fan" status I held for many years following (still pretty much have it, really).

This is a great introduction to Yes' music. You should start here if you are going to get into their stuff. I give this album 5 stars for that reason, even though the material is somewhat inconsistent in places. It is essential for a "progressive rock fan" - not being familiar with this album is like being a resident of the United States and not knowing who George Washington was.

"Roundabout" is great. It's "Yours is No Disgrace," but more accessible, and with more colour, from Wakeman's keyboard palette. I can't say I like Wakeman's style more than the gritty organ it replaced, but it was highly influential, and not at all bad. Classical and rock idioms mixed well.

"Cans and Brahms" is rather weak, a Brahms piece played straight through with various cool keyboard sounds. I understand that Wakeman was not able to contribute any original works for his "solo spot" because of contractual reasons, so I can understand the choice, and the resulting "album flow" is not negatively affected, if for no other reason than that I cannot think what other song could possibly follow "Roundabout."

Jon Anderson's solo bit "We Have Heaven" foreshadows his "Olias of Sunhillow" overdubs - quite excellent.

"South Side of the Sky," another full band piece, is enjoyable. Chronicling a doomed arctic journey, the song features well-contrasted "hard" and "soft" sections, like the best of Yes at this point. The hard rock drives the protagonists on like a blizzard, while the middle section covers their frozen bodies in a soft snowfall as their spirits ascend to a different sort of warmth.

"Five Per Cent for Nothing" is one of my favorite pieces on this album - a brilliant bit of oddity that is far too short. Bill Bruford's solo piece.

"Long Distance Runaround" is a band-oriented gem penned by Anderson. Much more conventional and shorter than the other "band" works, but enjoyable nonetheless. Sing it after a breakup or time of anger.

"The Fish" builds as it goes in the same fashion as "We Have Heaven" - both use extensive overdubbing. However, "The Fish" features Chris Squire's overdubbed bass guitars. The piece is in 7/4 time, and is a classic piece - very nuanced and even catchy, especially with the final vocal chorus.

Steve Howe's solo guitar piece, "Mood for a Day," is a fairly classic bit, but less experimental or showy than previous solo spots, Howe's "Clap" from the last album included. Nice, but not incredible. I, of course, cannot complain. It's warm and well-done, and fun to play.

"Heart of the Sunrise" is another essential work, featuring the most intricate interplay of "fast/loud" and "soft/pretty" Yes had pulled off to date. There's a bit of a "hidden track" afterwards, a snippet of "We Have Heaven" rounding out the album's vague "linked" feel.

Absolutely essential.

Review by Philo
4 stars Fragile is an album that sees Yes between a rock and a prog place, if you'll pardon my pun.. While it still bears the rawness and art approach of their earlier work, there is a hint of what was to become the generic progressive suites that they would fill on albums to come. For me the melodic passages and harmonies are a maisve strength on Fragile and this gives some parts a slight folk element though the music in the background defies this with its off beat timings and lush musicianship of the exceptional musicians that made up Yes, now with the added depth of having Rick Wakeman on keyboards and pretentious pieces ("Cans And Brahms" if you don't mind). Jon Anderson's voice has yet to reach the scale of elfism (or a little elfish even?) and that is music to my ears, he sounds quite beautiful without the high frequency register of later Yes works. He sounds exceptionally good on "Roundabout", a song that clocks in at around 10 minutes or so but never out of place or boring. But the key song that holds Fragile together, [as the album ]does sound very uneven in places but again this uneven qualiy is masked by the brilliant skill of the players, is the massive "Heart Of The Sunrise". An epic tune that drills a rapid fire round of riffs at the listener with ease, before pulling back and building up over and over again at a brooding pace. Bill Brufords drumming is exceptionally tight and solid and this gives the song its tenacity and power-though it has to be said that Yes might have borrowed a little from their peers King Crimson some where along the line for this number, a compliment rather than a crime I would think. Fragile is a real good progressive album that may be self indulgent but rarely overblown and it's raw nature adds a neat tangent that makes it a worth while album to own. Prog fan or not.
Review by chessman
4 stars This was the first Yes album I acquired. I bought it just after it came out and was certainly not disappointed! Every track is good, and the solo pieces, in my opinion, do add something to the overall flow and effect, especially Chris Squire's tremendous multi-layered bass piece. He is, to me, the dominant influence on this album. But the other solo efforts are excellent as well. (Apart from Bill Bruford's short and pointless effort) Even Jon Anderson, always, comparatively, the weakest member of the band, puts in a fine solo piece here. Steve Howe's Mood For A Day is very nice, and Rick Wakeman's talent becomes obvious on Cans and Brahms. One of the three best Yes albums, and just behind, in my opinion, Going For The One, and Close To The Edge. Far better than the awful, tedious, monotonous, tuneless and badly recorded 'The Yes Album.' (Still one of the most overrated albums in history, and a definite downswing after the two glorious first albums by the band!) Recommended as a starting point for anyone wishing to get into this band. (Avoid anything after Going For The One, especially the atrocious Tormato!)
Review by Watcheroftheskies
5 stars Hmmm... I think most of the people who have given this album 5 stars have already summed up what I would have said. This album is essential for any Prog collector. You need this album if you are into prog. Yes succeeds on this album where even the greatest prog bands have failed. They have long insturmentals which are captivating and a couple of hits off of this album. One of my favorite songs/song transitions is "Long Distance Runaround" followed by the fish. Classic prog and worth every penny! The new releases come with "America which was originally released elsewhere and not on a Yes album so you get a small treat if you get this now-a-days.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Everyone has covered the review of Fragile in giving it mainly 4-5 stars. It is a classic masterpiece, short instrumental works included. There is not a single dull moment on Fragile. For me the high points would have to be ' The Fish' and ' South Side of the Sky'.Five stars probably is an understatement!
Review by Guillermo
3 stars Maybe this was the first Progressive Rock album that I have listened to. And in fact, I listened to this album many, too many times, because it was one of the favourite albums of my older brothers in the seventies. So, maybe this album deserves a five star rating, as it seems that many people considers it as an excellent album. Maybe I am very biased about this album, because after I have listened to it many times, I don`t play it very often since a long time ago, because I`m tired of it. There are other things which I don`t like very much in this album: the inclusion of solo pieces by each member of the band. For me, it seems that YES at that time didn`t have enogh material for the recording of a new album, so they had the idea of recording the solo pieces (which, with the exception of "Cans and Brahms" and "Mood for a Day", are really played with the rest of the members of the band). "Roundabout" was a hit, and it is still played in some Oldies FM Radio stations in my country.It is maybe the most played song in concert by YES, "the obligatory song". This song has very good arrangements. "Cans and Brahms" is a good arrangement by Wakeman, playing several "orchestral" parts in different keyboards. It seems that for this album Wakeman couldn`t use his own compositions due to contractual obligations. "We have heaven" is an experiment by Anderson, who sings all vocal parts accompanied by the band. "South side of the sky" has a vey good piano arrangement by Wakeman. It is also a "rocker", with very good guitars by Howe. "Five per cent for nothing" is Bruford`s musical idea played with the rest of the band (and it is also the only song of this album never played in concert by YES). "Long Distance Runaround" has interesting drums and bass by Bruford and Squire, respectively. In "The Fish" , Squire used some different sounds that he could play in his bass, playing melodies, accompanied mainly by Bruford`s drums and percussion and vocals by Anderson, Squire and Howe. "Mood for a Day" is Howe`s most known acoustic guitar piece. "Heart of the Sunrise" is the best song of this album, with very good drums by Bruford (credited as a co-composer of this song with Anderson and Squire), and good keyboards by Wakeman. The album is finished with a brief reprise of "We have heaven" not listed in the cover and in the label. Maybe this album is very appreciated by fans as it shows the first time that a YES line-up had five musicians which were really creating the Progressive Style for YES, a style which was more clear in this album, and was stronger than in previous albums.
Review by el böthy
4 stars An excellent album, not a 5 star, but still. Maybe Yes more importrant album (after Close to the Edge...of course). It has got some of Yes best songs ever made, like "Heart of the Sunrise", "South Side of the Sky" abd all times classic " Roundabout".

Some of Jon Anderson best lyrics, Bill Bruford best drumms (in Yes!!!!), Steve Howe again amaizing ( but not as much as in their previous work: "The Yes Album") and ... of course master Wakeman!!! Rick Wakeman had just joined the band and Yes would never be the same again. Awsome, just awsome!!!

It may not turn out to be your favorite Yes album, but it´s a must have. Thats it.

Review by Muzikman
5 stars When you first hear the clear and crisp version of "Roundabout" on the remastered Yes album Fragile, you will be beside yourself how fresh and exuberant it sounds. Just as many recordings from their catalog, it is hard to believe that this music was originally conceived and recorded back in 1972.

This was the turning point for Yes as keyboardist Tony Kaye exited and Rick Wakeman made his grand entrance. Although Kaye was exceptional, Wakeman's influence created an entirely different mindset in the band. He brought the classical influence to the table. His acceptance into the group would follow immediately and the results of that are found on Fragile.

Yes became the prototypical progressive rock band in 1972, and they never turned back. Steve Howe became the quintessential diverse guitarist on this album, jumping back and forth from hard rocking intense guitar licks to gentle jazz/classical influenced passages. I found this component to be quite evident throughout the entire recording. This one important factor changed them forever and put them into category all by themselves (they always were).

Two AOR staples were introduced from this masterpiece, "Long Distance Runaround" and "Heart Of The Sunrise." Bonus tracks include a hearty version of "America" and "Roundabout" in its developmental stages. This album is so good you never tire of it; its importance and resiliency are more evident than ever on this superb remastered version.

Review by Fitzcarraldo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars My favourite YES album. The beautiful acoustic guitar intro of 'Roundabout' heralds a varied collection of well-crafted tracks. More polished than their previous (very good) album but not as ambitious as their next one, I feel the music on this album strikes a good balance between accessibility and ornateness (although I imagine people who are not fans of Progressive Rock would probably still regard this in the same light as YES' other works).

'Roundabout', 'South Side Of The Sky', 'Long Distance Runaround' and 'Heart Of The Sunrise' were arranged and performed by the band, and the other five tracks were individual ideas, personally arranged and organised by the five members. 'Cans And Brahms' is Wakeman's twist on extracts from Brahms' 4th Symphony in E Minor, 3rd Movement, using electric piano, grand piano, electric harpsichord and synthesizer. 'We Have Heaven' was Jon Anderson's (short) idea, with him providing multi-layered vocals over a repeating theme. 'Five Per Cent For Nothing' is Bruford's jerky 35-second contribution. Squire's 'The Fish' was produced using the different sounds of bass guitars over percussion (nice), and Howe concludes the individual projects with the medieval and Spanish sounding (and very pleasant) 'Mood For A Day' on acoustic guitar.

Apart from the enjoyable individual projects, the four joint efforts are very pleasant indeed. I really like melody and a good tune, and these four longer tracks deliver that. Wakeman's keyboards are more evident than Kaye's were on the previous album (I liked Kaye's keyboard work on the previous album) and are very good, I should add. Wakeman does play an important part in making this album what it is.

The usual YES poetic nonsense lyrics abound. I have to mention "In and around the lake, mountains come out of the sky and stand there" which, to me, conjures up a crystal clear image.

A showcase of the band's individual and collective talent, I'm going with 5 stars on this (Essential: a masterpiece of progressive music).

Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One of the classic Yes albums, Fragile is more polished and tight that their previous album, The YES album, and is their first album that features the classic line-up (Anderson, Howe, Wakeman, Squire & Bruford). The album was originaly released in November 1971 in the UK, and January 1972 in the US.

Though it's a excellent album, Fragile is sadly uneven, but still very worthy. The performing is highly impressive at times, especially Chris Squire's "The Fish", a solo piece in 7/8 with all riffs made with the use of the bass guitar, and Steve Howe's great acoustic "Mood For a Day". The other solo pieces are not so good, though Anderson's "We Have Heaven" is very interesting!

The best songs are Roundabout, South Side of The Sky, The Fish, Mood For a Day and Heart of The Sunrise. The other tracks are weaker, but still OK.

This is a must for any Yes fan (or prog fan). 4.25 stars - Should be included in every prog-collection!

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Between the middle of 1970 and the last half of 1971, two wonderful things happened to Yes: Howe and Wakeman entered the line-up. "Fragile" was the first Yes album conceived and recorded under these most promising circumstances. and the promise was fulfilled with absolute magnificence. "The Yes Album" had shown a band reaching its maturity but not there 100 %. "Fragile" turns out to be the manifesto of a maturity conquered and self-enhanced. All the individual symptoms are here: Howe and Wakeman rule the Yessian melodic realms with their absolute skill and infinite inventiveness, Anderson's singing is more enthusiastic and compelling than ever (properly complemented by Squire's and Howe's backing vocals), Bruford shines like a demigod in his challenging drumming style, and Squire makes his bass a crucial rhythm element and a relevant melodic factor, both at once. The overall result is a most superb ensemble ready to push the prog movement to a brand new boundary of artistic excellence. 'Roundabout' kicks off the album with full splendour, a fiery light that still nowadays shines with the brightness of a classic. The same goes for the closure 'Heart of the Sunrise', one of the finest yes numbers ever, full of contrasts and linking every motif fluidly and consistently into a perfectly unitary amalgam: it is remarkable how such a long piece can keep things working in order to maintain an even level of epic drama all along, without ups and downs. 'South Side of the Sky' is another Yes classic, a great track that should have been part of their live setlists more often: basically it's a hard rocking piece with a jazz-oriented interlude that includes some mystic-like chorale section - Wakeman makes his piano parts intertwine beautifully with the various chanting counterpoints. The solo numbers are also quite impressive. Wakeman pays an orthodox but not-too-solemn tribute in 'Cans and Brahms', and Anderson displays a multi-layered vocal tour-de-force in the folkish gospel 'We Have Heaven'. Then, a door is slammed and someone's feet go running away in a hurry, until a sound of thunder and whirling wind give way to the aforementioned 'South Side of the Sky'. Bruford's brief piece 'Five per Cent for Nothing' is not a drum solo, but an exercise of collective counterpoint among all four instrumentalists. The complex yet catchy 'Long Distance Runaround' is segued into another multi-layered tour-de-force, this time carried on by Squire's amazing bass work. Meanwhile, guitarist Howe chooses a more relaxed pace with his exquisite Flamenco-oriented number 'Mood for a Day'. The album ends with a reprise of 'We Have Heaven', a closed door having been reopened as soon as the last echoes of the mellotron's last note in 'Heart of the Sunrise' vanished into the void. Either this has a deep, poetic meaning, or it's mostly a humorous coda, but all in all it is amusing and creates the feel of a full circle. Like thousands of prog fans, I regard "Fragile" as an absolute masterpiece of the genre, so it deserves nothing less than the maximum rating.
Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I can clearly remember the day I bought my first version of Fragile, it was a very cold afternoon of January 1977, I was a 13 years old prog newbie passing my vacations in Birmingham Alabama and had nothing to do because it was snowing, so when my father said he wanted to go to the mall I ran into the car (Still was too young to drive) and went to the first record shop I could find..

Being a kid from Perú, a country where prog' was almost unknown (Music in English was almost forbidden by the military regimen), a USA music store was like paradise and hell at the same time, I saw lots of bands and albums that never even imagined but I didn't knew where to start, and lets remember that there was no Internet to help me make my choice.

Yes was one of the bands I knew on those days and Roundabout one of he few tracks I was familiar to, so when I saw the name of the song in the album and noticed it was the debut in Yes of my idol Rick Wakeman bought the LP without listening any track.

I can't compare Fragile with any other album being so unique, but I feel it's the natural central point in the evolution of the band between The Yes Album and Close to the Edge because Frágil shows a more commercial format of six short songs with three longer tracks that last between 8:04 to10:54 minutes like in The Yes Album, but it's more complex and classical - Symphonic oriented as Close to the Edge.

Please, don't let the short songs confuse you, the music and lyrics are among the most complex and progressive in Yes career, not only in the long but also in shorter tracks, only slightly behind Relayer. After listening Fragile it's evident that a great band can create prog' masterpieces of 3, 10 or 20 minutes, with no problem.

But there's another special characteristic in Fragile, each member has the chance to develop his personal ideas in one track (that we will comment later) but with much better results than the similar works of other bands Like ELP in Works II (not talking about Works I because here it was one side per member). Probably because each Yes musician gave their best in each song and not compiled some forgotten tracks left from previous albums.

The first thing the listener can notice is the huge difference between Rick Wakeman and Tony Kaye in the keyboards and how easily Rick takes the lead role in Yes.

His classical formation and baroque inspiration has almost nothing in common with an efficient but more rock oriented keyboardist like Kaye, who also did a good but different job in Yes Album, even when he never took the lead role.

At a first listen it's absolutely clear that Chris Squire is a hell of a bass player. IMO Chris performance is more memorable in Fragile than the one by Steve Howe, because he doesn't limits his contribution to the rhythm section (aS expected in a bass player), but he also adds his distinctive bass to the melodic parts of the songs. In this way he dreates extremely complex chords, riffs and rhythms, plus his outstanding backing vocals that help Jon Anderson with the amazing and elaborated voice sections, much more complex than ever before.

The work of the rest of the band in Fragile is also good but not as crucial as the one by Rick and Chris, Jon collaborates with his usual voice (not my cup of tea), Steve Howe is sober and proper as always (incredible in Roundabout though) and maybe Bill Bruford is another crucial member with his extremely accurate drumming and a certain jazzy sound that complements the music greatly.

The album opens with Roundabout, a hit single that had a lot of radio impact even in my country, excellent guitar and bass and keyboards plus the chorus at the end of the song, the most popular Yes track before 90125 but that doesn't affect it's great quality, the perfect mixture of commercial success and artistic quality, a classic in 1972 and 2004.

Cans and Brahms is only the chance to listen Rick Wakeman playing his arrangements of Brahms music, a cute song but nothing specially complex or transcendental. We Have Heaven is a personal idea of Jon Anderson, overdubbing his voice enough times to create a one man chorus, again good idea and a beautiful track but not particularly important for Yes development.

The next turn is for another relatively long song by all the group, South Side of the Sky, simply impressive, Rick's Keyboards, Steve's Guitar and Chris Bass blend all together in a precious cacophony of crossed rhythms and melodies, perfectly marked by Bill Bruford's drums and enhanced by Jon's vocals in one of few tracks that I find his voice amazing. The piano semi solos plus Jon and Chris vocal chorus provide instants of relief for a breathtaking song. A perfect masterpiece.

Five Percent Nothing is a very short sixteen bar tune by Bruford that works as an intro for another classic like Long Distance Rounaround, a track that doesn't need reviews or critics because it's well known and beloved by every progressive fan, maybe only a couple of words about Bruford's work, because the guy is a human metronome, perfect rhythm and timing that create the base of the song.

Everybody focuses their attention in the longer tracks because those reveal the work and inspiration of the whole band but one of the best songs is The Fish, where Chris Squire proves how versatile can the bass be in the hands of a virtuoso, often seen as a second class rhythmic guitar or almost as an aid for percussion by the average listener, turns in this song to a sublime instrument that can also take care of the melody.

The next track is the Flamenco inspired Mood for a Day, where Steve Howe proves how great acoustic performer he is, a well known track played in every concert for the last 33 years that needs no comment.

The album ends with another all time favorite of Yes fans, Heart of the Sunrise, with it's extremely long instrumental introduction that later develops into a very complex track where Jon's vocals are again among the best of their career. It's also important to notice how easily the jump from hard and frantic passages to melodic and even nostalgic sections, this is what prog should be.

Now comes my worst problem, how to rate this album, before I started this review I was sure that Fragile deserved not more than 2 stars, but after giving the album a new listen and reading the words I wrote, I'm sure that Fragile deserves 3 stars, because IMO it's not an essential Yes release.

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Though I didn't give this album five stars, I think that this is the band's third best album along with "Close to The Edge" and "Relayer". The idea of short little musical numbers by each member is funny, but most of them are quite silly, the best being Howe's and Squire's numbers. "South Side Of The Sky" is perhaps the best track on this one, and the other non-solo numbers are also great. There's a lovely little book with Dean's illustrations coming along with the original vinyl version of this album, and it's also reproduced to the booklets of the more recent CD remasters.
Review by Yanns
5 stars I cannot bring myself to give this album less than 5 stars. It simply is a masterpiece of progressive rock. Some people argue that tracks like "Cans and Brahms" and "We Have Heaven" hold this album back. I could not disagree more. Although they are probably the weakest songs on the album (along with "Five Percent for Nothing") they make Fragile what it is. Fragile would be far less complete if any of these 3 were missing, let alone all of them.

Roundabout - Well, Roundabout is just Roundabout. THE Yes classic. One of the only 3 Yes tracks you'll ever hear on the radio. Perfect and definitive Yes. That's basically how to describe it. The driving bass, of course, shows one of the trademarks of Yes, and Wakeman's fillers are, well, just pure Wakeman.

Cans and Brahms - Now, this song can be very appreciated when listened to with the rest of the album. Put it on alone, and it's boring. No doubt about that. But, after Roundabout and as a part of the alubm, it must be there. It's basically just a little Wakeman keyboard ditty, taken from a piece by Brahms.

We Have Heaven - Again, must be here. Not too outstanding on its own. But it's gotta be here. That's it.

South Side of the Sky - The sleeper of the album. The first time I heard it, I said "Where did this come from??" It stands as one of the Yes classics that unfortunately, casual fans don't know.

Five Percent for Nothing - Well, here's the "interesting" track. Roughly 30 seconds of some weird stuff. Written by Bruford. Nice job Billy. But still, Fragile wouldn't have been the same without it.

Long Distance Runaround - Another one of the only 3 Yes songs you'd ever hear on the radio. And a classic as well. My favorite part would have to be in the middle when it blasts back into that opening riff with the stronger bass. Oh, it's perfect.

The Fish - Squire's track. The entire thing is played with 7 beats per measure (or 4 and 3 alternating, it's the same thing for the most part). Long Distance Runaround leads right into it, and it's mostly instrumental until toward the end when the band starts singing. Whether or not they are actually singing words or sounds is hard to tell, but it doesn't matter too much here. Just a great song.

Mood For a Day - The Howe acoustic piece. I was so bored the first time I heard it, I would skip over it the next few times I listened to the album so I could get to Heart of the Sunrise. What a mistake that was. This song is so incredible, and it's just a guitar piece. Tough to explain, just listen to it.... more than once.

Heart of the Sunrise - Yet another Yes classic on the album. The only song here to break the 10-minute mark, it stands as one of Yes's crowning achievements. Right from the blasting opening to the "We Have Heaven" reprise at the end, it's perfect.

In essence this is one of the all-time must own albums, simply because it's Fragile. It just is what it is. Any self-respecting Yes fan has gotta have it. Enough said. 5/5 stars.

Review by Philrod
5 stars This album was the real breakthrough for yes. Not only did it arrived when new keyboardist Rick Wakeman was starting to get noticed as one of the best round, but it also includes Yes biggest success, Roundabout. The album is constructed around 4 long songs, ''Roundabout'', ''South Side of the Sky'', ''Long Distance Runaorund'' and ''Heart of the sunrise'', all Yes classics in their own right. Around those splendid songs are 5 other songs. The first three are not that good, but the two last are absolutely great. Great music made by great musicians, Fragile is the first prog masterpiece from Yes, even if it is not their absolute masterpiece. 4.9/5
Review by erik neuteboom
5 stars This is the first Yes album in the 'classic line-up', it featured two newcomers. First of course Rick Wakeman, embellishing the Yes progrock sound with his Hammond organ, grand piano, electric piano, harpsichord, Mellotron and Minimoog synthesizer. Very soon he turned out to be a keyboard wizard, a great classically trained composer and a humurous personality. The other newcomer was Roger Dean from the Canterbury School Of Art. After he had designed the covers from Atomic Rooster, Babe Ruth and Osibisa, he was now asked for the first time to do the artwork for Yes. Oringinally the record company intended to release Fragile as a 2-LP (one side studio and one side live) but because of lack of time this was cancelled. The first composition on "Fragile" is "Roundabout", the intro features acoustic guitarwork from Howe with flageolets and a Spanish flavor, followed by a swinging and powerful rhythm. Rick Wakeman shows his skills on the Hammond organ with sparkling runs and a virtuosic solo like he played in Yes for years! The album contains five solo pieces: Rick Wakeman on organ in "Cans And Brahms", Jon Anderson with vocal overdubs in "We have heaven", Bill Bruford on drums in "Five Per Cent For Nothing", Chris Squire on bas in "The Fish (his nickname) and Steve Howe with "Mood For A Day" (wonderful Spanish climate). Not every piece is my cup of tea but in those days 'self-indulgence' and playing soli was as normal as drinking tea for these Englishmen so I don't mind about this! The other tracks "South Side Of The Sky", "Long Distance Runaround" and "Heart Of The Sunrise" (MELLOTRON!!) deliver a seminal mix of classic, rock and symphonic featuring distinctive vocal harmonies from Anderson and Squire. MY CONCLUSION: DUE TO THE CHEMISTRY BETWEEN WAKEMAN AND HOWE YES HAVE MADE THEIR FIRST MASTERPIECE!!!
Review by Zitro
4 stars It has brilliant compositions but it has some flaws (like the solo sections)

Roundabout 9.5/10 : This has to be one of the best non-prog songs of all times! It has a great bass line, a legendary guitar introduction, catchy vocals, very catchy chorus, and a dark loud bridge that is progish.

Cans Braham 3.5/10 : mediocre keyboard solo, very disappointing that wakeman did this.

We Have Heaven 3/10 : a vocal harmony based piece. It is annoying to listen sometimes and embarrasing when listening it with somebody else.

South Side of The Sky 8.5/10 : very very good hard rock song with great imagery of freezing to death on a mountain. The piano solo stands out as one of the best things wakeman has done to Yes (I learned to play it too) and the la la la chanting is very memorable.

Five Percent per Nothing 1/10 : I don't know ... I just don't get it. it sounds awful.

Long Distance Runaround 9/10 : I wish short pop songs in the radio were this good. Thundering ascending Bass riffs, good keyboard/guitar riff, nice melodies and ends with a lighting speed solo

Fish 8/10 : It is very original overdubbing a thousand bass guitars, and it sounds great. This is a GOOD solo spot.

Mood for a Day 10/10 : Is there an solo acoustic guitar composition that is more brilliant than this??

Heart Of the Sunrise 9.5/10 : Excellent finisher. It sounds very loud and fast in the beginning, but then Chris Squire starts riffing and Bill Bruford starts improvising very well in the drums .. then it gets loud again .. until it changes to a completely different mellow song with one of the best vocals Anderson has ever did and some random riffing all over the place. Very good song! If only the reprise of the annoying We have Heaven is not here.

My Grade : B+

Review by Tony Fisher
3 stars A hugely overrated album - it should never be above The Yes Album in the ratings. It consists of 5 band collaborations, all of which are acceptable and 2 (Roundabout and Heart of the Sunrise) are complete masterpieces, but "two swallows do not a summer make". The other five are individual compositions, one by each member of the band. These range from fair (Cans and Brahms and The Fish) to a complete waste of time. Worth buying for the bassline to Roundabout alone but don't expect another Yes Album. They didn't make the same mistakes next time out!
Review by Progbear
4 stars The final piece of the puzzle was added when keysman Rick Wakeman was added to the group. Unlike Kaye, Wakeman was not afraid by the sonic possibilities offered by synthesizers and makes judicious use of them to colour the music. And yet, he can play the organ with the same fiery rock & roll intensity as Kaye. His classical training allows also for a rich tapestry of piano work as well. Surely the group had found a vital player in him.

"Roundabout" introduced an even bigger audience to the Yes mystique. With its unforgettable classical guitar intro, whirling organ and synthesizer runs and Squire's distinctively spiky bass playing, listeners were captivated and wanted to hear more of this highly talented band.

FRAGILE as an album doesn't hang together very well, and in all truth feels a bit piecemeal. The idea of giving each individual member a solo spot is an interesting one, but it works better in theory than in practice (though it's a lot more successful than ELP's attempt on the disastrous WORKS VOL. 1). Howe acquits himself well with a good acoustic, classical-guitar piece. Ditto Squire, with an intriguing and original bass-led instrumental. Bruford's fleeting jazz instrumental "5% for Nothing" is enjoyable, but doesn't really fit in with the band's incipient style. Anderson's "We Have Heaven" rather overdoses on the cutesy elfin whimsy and Wakeman's Brahms adaptation seems kitschy and out of place.

These are minor complaints, however, when epics of such power as "South Side Of The Sky" and "Heart Of The Sunrise" greet the listener. The latter is a stone classic, featuring a dramatic, riffing introduction and visiting varied musical locales along the way.

Review by NJprogfan
5 stars Life changing album and I have to thank my English teacher. In the mid-70's I skirted around prog, not knowing that certain albums that I bought were termed "Prog", (Kansas, Jethro Tull...). Then one day, my English teacher took a day off and in her stead a substitute. Since it was near the end of the school year, the substitute allowed us to do as we pleased; as longs as we were not out of hand. A classmate turned on a portable radio and playing through those tiny speakers was something I never heard before. I sat mesmorized. I was engulfed by the music. After it was over, I asked my classmate who it was. He said it was Yes and the song was called "Roundabout". I couldn't wait to buy the album. Going to my record store, I found it, brought it home and gazed at the artwork. It was the most amazing package I'd seen to that point. Beautiful watercolor paintings and the poster that came with the record just rounded out the experience for me. I could go into a song-by-song retrospect ad nauseam, but this review is mainly a flashback. Suffice it to say, this album is the perfect starting point for anybody who wants a friend or loved one to hear what prog's all about. Hits, ("Roundabout", "Long Distance Run Around/The Fish") solo pieces, and epics, ("South Side Of The Sky" and one of the greatest prog songs ever, "Heart Of The Sunrise"). This is a bonefide 5-star classic of the highest order and if not for KC's "Crimson King..." it is the album that literally, after hearing it the first time, had teenagers reaching for their guitars wanting to start a new band.
Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is my favorite Yes album. It features overall the greatest group efforts as well as phenomenal solo efforts from each member of the band. This album also brings in the entrance of keyboard extraordinaire Rick Wakeman, who would help give Yes their proverbial push into stardom. From the opening harmonics of Roundabout to the closing chants of Heart of the Sunrise, there is nothing but joy that I feel from listening to this album.

Roundabout is one of the most recognizable Yes songs. Featuring a sharp and catchy bass line from Squire, punchy and precise drumming from Bruford, textured chords and sharp leads from Howe, and rich and watery organ and synth effects from Wakeman. It also features strong vocals from Anderson and catchy lyrics as well. Cans and Brahams begins the solo efforts on the album. This song is a Rick Wakeman tribute to the famous composer Brahams, played on a Hammond Organ and is a engaging tune. We Have Heaven is Jon Anderson's solo track, and it featuring layer upon layer of vocal tracks, a sort of Gentle Giant feel to it. South Side of the Sky is the second of the group efforts on the album. Featuring searing leads and runs from Howe, a gentle piano break from Wakeman, sharp and stabbing bass from Squire, and some top notch fills from Bruford, this is one of the strongest tracks on the album.

Next up is Bruford's track, Five Percent for Nothing. It is a staggering jazzy effort that makes its point in 30 seconds.The next track is one that I don't really find that amazing (unlike some who give this song so much credit), and that is Long Distance Runaround. Other than the creative riffs between the verses, this track doesn't really do much for me. It segues into The Fish, which is essentially a very textured bass solo, with all the music (besides percussion) being performed by bass. The next track is Mood For a Day, the "sequel" to Clap off of the Yes Album. Where as Clap had a country feeling to it, this one has a spanish feel to it. Another fan favorite still to this day. The finale to this album is my favorite Yes song, Heart of the Sunrise. The first 3 minutes is nirvana, featuring a powerful riff that is catchy and heavy at the same time. The mini-jam with the Wakeman synths and the refreshing Squire breakdown is fantastic. The rest of the song is a gem, with strong Anderson vocals and lyrics.

Overall, if you want classic Yes, you get this album. Close to the Edge would be good, but not up to this quality. 5/5.

Review by FishyMonkey
5 stars Easily my favorite Yes album. This one doesn't have any of the pretentiousness of TFTO, none of the overdone qualities of CttE, better songwriting than The YES Album, none of the inconsistancy that kills Relayer...this album is near perfect. all We Have Heaven and Cans and Brahms are skip-button worthy, but since those two tracks are so small and so unimportant in the album, it doesn't even matter.

There's something about this album that just places it above other Yes albums for me. I think it's more or less the drive of the songs, the zeal and fervor you can hear in them. Here, Yes never takes themselves too seriously, even at their emotional peak seen in Heart of the Sunrise. They just let that drive handle everything for them, and it flows. It works. I haven't found a person with any sort of good taste in music who hasn't enjoyed Roundabout. It's just a fun track. Meanwhile, prog lovers will go nuts over Heart of the Sunrise and South Side of the Sky. This album...god, it rocks.

The opener is Roundabout, which is one of the most famous Yes songs ever. Almost every semi-intelligent college kid knows this one, even if he/she can't quite remember who it's by (this and I Seen All Good People). It's catchy, cheery, infectious, and very lively. It's got a bass part to die for, and very solid singing by Anderson. Everything about it is fun. Awesome opener.

The next two tracks are more or less throwaway tracks, one being a tribute to classical piano composer Brahms and the other being a layered vocal-centered song done by Jon Anderson. They really are pretty worthless and are mostly here to display the talents of each artist. Great, you guys can play. Don't make me listen to it. However...the next track, South Side of the Sky makes up for it. This piece has a rather dark feel to it, and has a quieter section that CttE wishes it could touch. Awesome piano part here throughout, and the blowing wind is really fitting. This is definitely one of my favorite Yes tracks. Love the vocal harmonies halfway through the track.

Some people may call Five Per Cent For Nothing a filler track, and it kinda is, but it's a fun listen to the wizardry of Bruford. Mildly entertaining is all. The next track is another pretty well-known one, Long Distance Runaround. Real fun piece in the vein of Roundabout, although a bit more serious. Love the part when the bass and drums come in near the beginning. The next piece is The Fish, which is more or less Chris Squire at large. Awesome piece, so...bassy. Mmm...bass. It's really a good fun piece to listen to, much like Long Distance Runaround. Next is the guitar song called Mood for a Day. Steve Howe really outdoes himself here, it's a wonderful guitar solo. I like Clao more, personally, but hey.

The last piece is Heart of the Sunrise, which I feel is tied with South Side of the Sky for the all-time peak of Yes's career. This piece has everything; the most emotional singing Jon Anderson has ever done, good guitar playing, blah blah, you get the point. I think if I had to choose, I'd take South Side of the Sky, but htis track rocks as well. I lvoe the ending and the section at around 3:00, which are not-so-coincidentally similiar.

The absolute peak of Yes's career in my opinion. This is an album that will last me my life.

Review by Atkingani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars "Fragile" is the first album with the classic and most remembered Yes line-up; the presence of Rick Wakeman was a quantum jump for the band - however Tony Kaye had done his work fairly. It seems that the new member added an extra vigor to the band general inspiration able to make them produce an album even better than the previous.

Now, all stars shone brilliantly and the effect was fantastic, specially for the avid progressive ears (we). The fact that Yes reached their highest point before other great prog-bands is certainly one major reason why this band is probably the most popular in the whole progressive scenario. Blame it mainly on "Fragile", a great work!

'Roundabout', the opener, is an awesome song, capable to please all kinds of listeners, and it does not mean this is a pop or commercial track. The truth is only one: this is a splendid song, with good variations, pleasant sounds, suitable vocals; all contributes to make it a landmark, a great musical moment - and pay attention to keyboards and guitars, they are flawless.

'South side of sky' is another excelsior point, the dialog between voice and guitar and the piano interlude are magnificent, if someone wants to know how is the clay from where progressive music was shaped here is a good sample. There are also the real rock passages with distorted guitar and steady drumming that touch my heart profoundly. My mostly preferred album track.

'Long distance runaround' is a relatively short and very catchy song; tasteful, hearable, agreeable. Other short tracks of the album are solo efforts by band members which also make fair bridges among the main songs but we could easily live without them; however, pay attention to 'Mood for a day', an acoustic guitar track that does an incredible preparation for the ending track.

'Heart of sunrise', a 10' and a half semi-epic, is a great song equipped with all apparatus to delight the hearers. Jon Anderson's voice that's not properly my cup of tea flies high and powerful as never before and probably after. Also the instruments are conjugated in a manner that Yes sound like an orchestra. Only one word to define this song: special!

Rating is obvious, since we are facing a masterpiece. Total: 5.

Review by belz
4 stars 4.4/5.0

This is a great album, though not as great as « Close to the Edge », which may be one of the best mainstream progressive album ever. The reason why I think this album is slightly inferior is mainly because it seems to me that somehow it lacks the cohesion of the next one and maybe also at some point each member of the group seems to go in their own direction. That said, this is still close to a masterpiece and very enjoyable listening! A must-have album for any serious progressive music fan!

Review by Chicapah
5 stars When "The Yes Album" came out it merely confirmed what many of us thought was true from the first 2 albums. That this band was really going to shake things up in the music world. But none of us expected anything on this level. It's a real shame that oldies radio has jaded us to just how great "Roundabout" is by overplaying it for decades now but the effect it had on FM radio at the time was nothing short of revolutionary. I guess you had to be there but it made programmers completely rethink what their audience was ready for. It defied description and it broke the mold. And, while the concept of giving every member an individual piece on the record wasn't exactly new, they may have pulled it off the best. It keeps things from growing repetitive and predictable. "South Side of the Sky" is a fascinating experiment in dynamics that is very intriguing. But "Heart of the Sunrise" and "America" are the standout cuts here. The former is stunningly tight and dynamic as it slams you back into your sofa and rattles the china. The latter shows (more than any other song in their arsenal) that this was truly a top-notch ROCK AND ROLL BAND that had the ability to kick butt and take names. Howe's guitar solo section absolutely sizzles with playful energy and this song's inclusion on this reissue fits like a glove. The addition of the rough mix of "Roundabout" is great because it really shows what a difference producer Eddie Offord made in the final mix of the song. Mix-down is an art and Offord was one of the best ever. While the album doesn't achieve the lofty heights that CTTE would (and few ever will), it still stands as a true landmark in prog rock history in that no one alive at that time could believe what they were hearing. Yes set the bar really high with this one.
Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Released on the same year as the magnificent "Close to the Edge", "Fragile" offers the same extremely high standards of musicianship and songwriting, though with a different, less compact format. While its follow-up had only three tracks on it, "Fragile" is equally divided between long, complex epics and much shorter tracks which showcase the band members' individual (and immense) talent. This is also the first Yes album boasting one of Roger Dean's legendary covers, which in this case contains a clear reference to the title - the earth breaking into several pieces. While CTTE's sleeve was characterised by diverse hues of green, here we have a deep blue background set off by the lighter blue of the water and the light green of the trees. Very stylish indeed, though in my opinion not Dean's best work.

The album's opener, still performed live by the band, is the celebrated "Roundabout", a very unlikely hit single, dotted throughout with multilayered vocals and bolstered by Chris Squire's monstrous bass lines. On "South Side of the Sky" Steve Howe's angular, spiky guitar comes to the fore, while the song relaxes in the middle with beautiful, soothing vocal harmonies and a great piano solo by Wakeman. "Long Distance Runaround", my least favourite of the longer tracks, offers more intricate, jagged guitar parts backing up Anderson's soaring vocals. This is probably even more accessible than the deceptively catchy "Roundabout".

The album's highlight, however, comes at the end with the monumental "Heart of the Sunrise", a real tour de force for both Bill Bruford's inimitable drums and Steve Howe's incendiary guitar. Both musicians steal the show in the song's beginning section, almost hysterical in its electric intensity - then, the calm after the storm, with Anderson's voice at its most angelic, hitting incredibly high notes with ease - then more of the same, with a coda which effectively proves how heavy Yes could be when they choose, giving the likes of Dream Theater a run for their money.

The five remaining tracks are more varied in quality, and many people find them irritating. The best by far are Steve Howe's lyrical acoustic piece, "Mood for a Day", and Chris Squire's "The Fish", a cult number for everyone who's ever attempted to play bass, displaying the legendary Rickenbacker thick, trebly sound. Bill Bruford's "Five per Cent for Nothing" is over in a few seconds, while Anderson's "We Are Heaven" and Wakeman's "Cans and Brahms", while undoubtedly pleasant, say nothing new about both musicians' already well-known talents.

The remastered edition contains an early rough mix of "Roundabout", with a very funny detail - when Anderson starts singing too early and stops abruptly midway; and a 10- minute cover of Simon and Garfunkel's famous "America" - a great prog track which sounds completely different from the original.

What else can be said about this album? It is probably less immediate than CTTE, clearly more varied, balanced between sheer electric savagery and sublime, melodic moments. In my very humble opinion, it is without any doubt one of prog's defining moments, one to be savoured and enjoyed as often as possible.

Review by OpethGuitarist
4 stars I think what many people do not like about this album is what makes it fun. Yes, it is quirky, and yes, it does not take itself seriously at all, but that's what makes many of this all the more enjoyable. And besides, Yes never took themselves too seriously when it came to lyrics.

Anyways, the solo pieces is for me what can't make this album 5 stars. The music overall is some of the best you will find, with the great bass line in Rounabout and wonderful melodies in the songs. Howe adds many tasteful licks that meld well with the lead bass and create many dynamics. Heart of the Sunrise is the best track here for me.

One of my favored 4 star albums, being almost a 5 star album if we had more substance in certain areas. Still very excellent, the 2nd best Yes album for me. I think this is also a good place to start for those who have not heard much from the band, being one of the more accessible of the earlier works, along with The Yes Album, although I am not particularly fond of it.

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars One of the interesting things about writing reviews of albums you first heard decades ago is the advantage of perspective. Yes is a band I didn’t discover until late in my teen years, and that was with Going for the One and Tormato. As a result I, like many fans, had to discover the back catalog after the band had already begun to fracture and their best years were in their rear-view mirrors.

In that context Fragile makes perfect sense. The band had almost completed perfecting their lineup (for the time being), and they had also nearly completed their transformation from a psychedelic/artsy band with high ambitions and industry credibility, into a tour de force and poster-child for intelligent progressive music

With Rick Wakeman in on keyboards the band’s sound seems to shift even further away from seemingly directionless hippy fluff like “Sweetness” off their debut album, and toward careful arrangements that raised the bar of rock. “Roundabout” sets the tone right off the bat as a stunning work that dwarfs anything the band had released previously. That short guitar intro is pretty much instantly recognizable to most music fans nearly thirty-five years later. The arrangement is incredibly focused, tightly executed, and commands attention. Squire is an insane man on bass, and probably inspired a couple generations of bassists with this song alone. I like the way the progression of the arrangement manages to eventually come roundabout itself back to Howe and his guitar, before lapsing into Anderson’s vocal tracks which almost seem to be a completely different song, only for the band to bring it all back together over the last couple minutes with every instrument commanding attention. Unfortunately for those of us in the States in the 70s, we were ‘treated’ to a much abbreviated version as a radio single that eliminated nearly all of the instrumentation from the last three minutes of the song (and some from the middle as well), leaving this sounding actually quite fragmented and confusing. But frankly, at that time in the 70s it was not at all unusual for record labels to hack up album tracks into unrecognizable bastardizations of themselves and release them as singles. The industry didn’t have a heck of a lot of respect for the average fan back then (do they now?), and I guess they figured our attention span and slack-jawed fascination with shiny objects would keep us from appreciating the full Monty of the song, so I suppose in their own twisted way they felt they were doing us a favor. Hmmm.

I say the band had nearly completed their transformation into a full-blown progressive band, but not totally. For some reason the band decided to include a number of short tracks that seemed more like auditions for the various individual band members. I’ve read this was because the band wanted to save money on studio time; or that they were in a hurry to get the album out quickly because they needed money to pay for equipment; or because they were in a hurry to try and capitalize on The Yes Album which was still on the charts in America; or that they simply didn’t have enough material for a whole album. Not sure which of these (or combinations of these) reasons is correct, if any.

Whichever, Wakeman offers a short interlude called “Cans and Brahms” from Johannes Brahms which is well-played but otherwise uninteresting. Anderson has a short track with his own vocals layered over themselves and sparse accompaniment from the band on “We Have Heaven” that also is quaint but uninteresting.

“South Side of the Sky” however, which Anderson wrote with Squire, is kind of an underappreciated treat from the band. It isn’t quite as tight as “Roundabout”, with both Howe and Squire teetering on an almost improvisational jazz (albeit a hard-licking one) at times. Wakeman’s keyboards here, especially the grand piano portions, are quite attractive, and certainly not what you’d have expected to hear out of a rock band at that time. My only complaint with this song is that Bruford’s drum work seems quite uninspired, and at times actually borders on dull.

Bruford is the next one to offer up what is basically a solo with “Five Per Cent For Nothing”, filler really, followed by Anderson’s “Long Distance Runaround”, a rather brief and almost poppish track that would actually garner more interest after it was included on 1981’s Classic compilation than it did with this album. I still like this song, but listening to it today it almost seems as if the band was intentionally looking for something that could get them on the radio in commercial markets. Strange.

“The Fish” has been reworked, re-recorded, and re-engineered so many times over the years (and combined with other tracks including “Long Distance Runaround”), probably because it is a great showcase for Squire, and also because it is a very recognizable piece of Yes music. I have at least five different versions of this myself, but the original is still interesting for its historical significance.

“Mood For a Day” is the Steve Howe solo, and his acoustic work is an introduction to the sound he would repeat on several tracks off his first solo album Beginnings, but not all that similar to the rest of what he does on this album (except for maybe on "Heart of the Sunrise"). It’s meant to be a reflective piece, and does its job well, although is again not a memorable part of the album.

The grand finale is of course “Heart of the Sunrise”, which is stylistically similar to “Roundabout” in that in engages the entire band, seems to be centered more around Squire than Bruford, and takes its own sweet time in developing the various instrumental progressions. One notable difference is that the song reaches nearly four minutes before Anderson is heard from, and nearly two more minutes before he finally kicks in his high gear. In that respect ‘Heart’ doesn’t seem quite as focused as “Roundabout”, which I suppose is a matter of personal taste whether this is good or not. For my tastes “Roundabout” is a slightly stronger track, but I’m sure that would be debated by many fans.

Overall this is not quite as consistent as The Yes Album from end to end. But where it is strong (“Roundabout”, “Long Distance Runaround”, “Heart of the Sunrise”) it is better than their previous work. Four stars for this one as well, and probably would be five if it weren’t for the filler tracks.


Review by Australian
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.

Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars This is Rick Wakeman's first album with YES after he left THE STRAWBS. His presence will be felt more on the next one "Close To The Edge", although he impresses me immensly here mostly with his piano and organ play. "Fragile" is my favourite YES album. Such an impressive lineup here. I also like the fact each member created their own short song for this record, but it's clearly the other four songs that make this a masterpiece.

"Roundabout" is my third favourite song on here. Love Howe's guitar opening on this track and Squire's growly bass is amazing. How good is it when Wakeman and Howe come to the fore on the chorus. A calm 5 minutes in as the intro is reprised, some mellotron too. It kicks back in with Wakeman leading the way. Classic YES. "Cans And Brahms" is Wakeman's track and what he's done is rearranged Brahms 4th symphony in E-minor, the Third Movement. Rick uses electric and grand pianos, organ, harpsichord and synths to get his result. "We Have Heaven" is Jon Anderson's song and it's all about the vocal arrangements. "South Side Of The Sky" is my second favourite track and it features some blistering guitar from Steve and contrasts the heavy and light well. I like the way it opens with the wind blowing before Bruford and a full sound kick in. Anderson sounds great. Chunky bass and prominant organ as well. It settles with piano and wind after 2 minutes followed by some gorgeous piano melodies. Vocal melodies join in as well. Nice. It kicks back in before 6 minutes. Incredible !

"Five Per Cent For Nothing" is Bruford's tune and it's all about the percussion that's so intricate as the band plays along. "Long Distance Runaround" opens with Howe and Wakeman before that growly bass joins in. Anderson and Bruford follow as it settles. Contrasts continue. A psychedelic calm to end it. "The Fish" is Squire's tune and he's all over it. This is complex and intricate, I like the way it sounds. Anderson after 2 minutes. "Mood For A Day" is Howe's song and it's a solo acoustic guitar piece from him. "Heart Of The Sunrise" is my favourite track. I adore the way Bruford and Squire lead the way early. Unbelieveable ! Howe comes in then it settles some.This reminds me of KING CRIMSON the way the growly bass and drums lead as the mellotron flows majestically. Howe starts to play over top. Then the tempo picks up. It calms right down after 3 1/2 minutes and the vocals come in. More mellotron 5 minutes in. It's building a minute later. Themes are repeated. How great does Anderson's vocals sound before 10 minutes.

Masterpiece !

Review by 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.

Review by 1800iareyay
4 stars Fragile is the first Yes album to feature keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman. It also stands as their heaviest and most metallic disc. Fragile took the momentum gained from Steve Howe's induction on the previous outing The Yes Album and propelled it forward into one of the greatest prog albums of all time. Fragile consists of five songs written by and featuring one member of the band. The other four songs are group collaborations.

Roundabout opens the album with its lush keyboards before Chris Squire's immortal bassline enters. This is Yes' most popular song and it's one of their best. Rick Wakeman comes prepared to play with his great solo

Cans and Brahms is Wakeman's solo piece. He adapted Brahms for keyboard. This is definite filler, and one expects more from Wakeman.

We Have Heaven flirts with filler, but it is enjoyable, just pointless.

South Side of the Sky makes up for the stumble with its woven guitar and vocal lines and its ethereal jazziness.

Five Percent For Nothing is Bill Bruford's solo piece, and it's the first thoroughly enjoyable solo song. The problem is that it's over in the blink of an eye. If only he'd lengthened it.

Long Distance Runaround is the next group work. It starts strong and heavy, later the volume drops for a moment, then comes roaring back louder than before. Terrific.

The Fish is Chris Squire's solo contribution. He overdubs varying bass parts almost like a bass Brian May (Queen). It serves as a great display of his talents.

Mood For a Day is a classical guitar interlude courtesy of Steve. This track shows just how good Steve is at his job.

Heart of the Sunrise is the album's closer, and what a high note to end on. The song pummels from the get-go with its thunderous bass and frantic guitar, before dropping into celestial keys, only to come back with the riff, similar to Long Distance Runaround. Jon's vocals are stunning, if "SHARP-DISTANCE" doesn't make the hairs on your neck stand up, you're dead inside.

As a whole, Fragile is an incredible work of art with only one, maybe two, filler tracks. This is an excellent starting point for newbies to Yes. The presence of filler prevents it from being a full five star, but it comes darn close. I wish we could give half stars

Grade: B+

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars Here we are, finally ! One of the best line-up of all time for Yes. The opener "Roudabout" is one of their best track ever (still very popular during their live performances). I discovered it first from YesSongs. I must admit that this studio version tops any live ones I know (and I know an awfull lot of it, believe me). "Cans & brams" is probably there to highlight Rick's classical abilities (I guess). This is really not essential at all and only last for 1'42". "We are Heaven" is equally short and could have been avoided as well. Bizarrely, the text track "South Side of the Sky" is not well known in their repertoire (few live performances) but is wonderful: beautifull voice / piano harmonies and it lasts for about eight minutes. One of the highlights on this album. The studio version for "Long Distance Runaround" only lasts for 3'30". During their concerts, it will dramatically lasts longer (probably too long IMO) and be combined with the next track "The Fish" (nickname for Chris, which will influence the great prog rock singer "Fish", but that's another MarillionStory). "Mood for a Day" was (I guess) Steve's response to Rick : a classical guitar solo which is still played during YesConcerts more than thirty years after its release. Although it shows his virtuosity, it is not a standard YesClassic piece (only a solo effort from a very skilled musician). The closing number "Heart of the Sunrise" is of course gigantic : violent intro (which is repeated several times during this lenghty track), melodious and catchy with Jon's vibrant vocals, this track is an absolute masterpiece (although it might be irritating for some people - but not me). It is one of my all time YesFave. The expanded version of the album includes the Simon & Garfunkel classic "America" but revisisted and in its full, extended lenght. This is a devastating version. An orgy of keys and brilliant guitar play. This YesVersion has really nothing to do with the original and indicates how a good cover version can be superior to the original. It is a brilliant YesInterpretation. I think that the only cover that could be on par with this one is "With A Little Help From My Friend" from Joe Cocker (specially its Woodstock rendition). The expanded version is really worth. Thank you guys ! Four stars.
Review by Modrigue
3 stars "Fragile" is YES's first really progressive studio album. It also introduces keyboardist Rick Wakeman. The record is unequal, as it consists in three mini epic pieces with shorter various fillers inserted between them.

It starts well with the classic "Roundabout" and its pretty acoustic guitar introduction. Then the melody takes you directly to fantastic magic places... good solos alternating with sometimes poppish passages. The listener is in an imaginative world... But then the disc tends to degenerate. "Can and Brahms" is a little reinterpretation of BRAHM's fourth Symphony by Wakeman. "We Have Heaven" sounds a bit cacophonic and is nearly irritating. "South Side of the Sky" has pleasant passages, electric guitar and catchy piano playing, but has too many changes in vocals, making the song chaotic sometimes. "Five per Cent for Nothing" is a short jazz-rock transition which has little to do here. Long Distance Runaround starts with an interesting vocal theme but fails to take off. "The Fish" is an ok kind of ambient-improvised guitar piece. Maybe the best transition of the album. "Mood for a Day" is an enjoyable intrumental acoustic guitar track with some spanish accents. The record finishes with the nice "Heart of the Sunrise", with its agressive guitar riff reminiscent of Led Zeppelin and a mellotron which makes the prog fan wonders whether he listens to a KING CRIMSON or a YES tune. This track is very efficient and catchy.

FRAGILE is the first convincing effort from YES, although a bit overrrated. "Roundabout" and "Heart of the Sunrise" are true pieces of "fantasy prog", but the middle of the album is quite unequal.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Contraty to some reviewers here, I don't think that Fragile, as a whole, is as good as The Yes Album and Close To The Edge. Of course it has some great moments, and one of their major hits (Roundabout. During the early 70's everybody who knew Yes was mostly introduced to the band by this song). Unfortunatly the solo spots break the overall concept of the album and tend to distract from the group effords, which are much, very much, better. In fact, only Steve Howe's great acoustic piece Mood For A Day deserved to be included in the album at all, since it is so good it is the only one that survived the test of time. I supposed the rest of the solo tracks were a novelty at the time. But in retrospetive it did no good for the LP.

The group tracks, on the other side, are only classic stuff. And I must agree with reviewers that claim South Side Of The Sky is an very underrated track. The song is simply beautiful and easily one of their best. I loved it since the very first day I heard and the middle section is specially inspired, bringing up some of Wakeman's best piano solo and Anderson, Squire and Howe do their greatest vocal harmony up to then. No need to go to every track, since they are all classics and every fan know them by heart.

A classic album and a must have for any prog fan, indeed. But it could be better if they just the formula used on TYA and CTTE. The group is better than the sum of its parts. Fragile proved that. Yet, a classic.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars And with Fragile the ship departs for the land of Roger Dean's imagination...

This is an interesting and quite good album which builds on the successes of The Yes Album. It is arranged as a series of mini songs showcasing the individuals members bookended between two stellar Yes classics, Roundabout and Heart of the Sunrise, both which would be concert staples for decades. Roundabout is a near perfect rock song that for many kids was their first experience with Yes as it got big radio play.

Of the mini songs the most notable for me was Mood For A Day. This is the type of piece along with the similar acoustic passages of Topographic that make Steve Howe one of my favorite guitar players. Completely meloncholic and beautiful classically tinged flavors. My only regret is that Mood was not expanded into a much longer instrumental piece.

It is also important that this album began perhaps the most successful marriage ever between a band and an artist. Roger Dean did not just design cool album covers for Yes, he literally created a world that gave the Yes listener a visual possibility for the stories they were being told. Some people don't believe album art should matter and I would agree that good art cannot rescue poor music. But when the art adds to the experience in such a direct and pleasing manner as Dean's does, it certainly doesn't hurt. 3.75 stars.

Review by fuxi
4 stars Among Yes' classic albums, FRAGILE has always been the one I liked least. The main reason is I first got to know the band's other masterpieces. After the grandeur of CLOSE TO THE EDGE, RELAYER, YES ALBUM and (parts of) TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS, tracks such as "Roundabout", "We Have Heaven" and "Long Distance Runaround" seemed silly and superficial. Even "Heart of the Sunrise" sounded like a fairly crude cut-and-paste job. (To make things worse, I first got acquainted with that song's live version on YESSONGS, where the band are in full flight and their performance is much 'heavier' than the studio version.)

Nowadays, I still don't play FRAGILE in its entirety, but the latest re-master (as of June, 2007) has mellowed my attitude. "Roundabout" now sounds clearer, crisper and more exciting than it ever did on a record player. With Chris Squire's Rickenbacker well to the fore, it's easy to understand why this tune helped the band conquer the United States. "Mood for a Day", Steve Howe's acoustic solo piece, sounds really friendly and charming, while "Cans and Brahms", Rick Wakeman's keyboard adaptation of a Brahms symphony movement, sounds jolly and cute. (I have always assumed the title contains some kind of pun but, not being a native speaker of English, I fail to see what it could be. If you happen to know, please send me the answer!)

For me, the album has two terrific highlights. One is the slow(ish) bass riff in "Heart of the Sunrise", which kicks in after the "Schizoid Man"-derived intro. As Wakeman's mellotron emerges, Bill Bruford uses the riff as a base for some delightful embellishments on drums. You thought drums couldn't sing? Think again.

The other highlight is "South Side of the Sky", in which all members of the band get a chance to shine. Jon Anderson's lead vocals are incredibly powerful (singing about a snowstorm helps), Rick Wakeman ALMOST tops Keith Emerson on grand piano (a shame Rick's piano sounds so tinny here), Chris Squire leads the 'wordless vocals' passage with aplomb, Bill Bruford plays those drum breaks introducing the first and final verses with inimitable mastery, and Steve Howe ends the song on a blistering guitar solo.

If you haven't bought FRAGILE yet, now is a better time than ever, as the album comes with two fascinating bonus tracks: an early mix of "Roundabout", and Yes' extended, ten-minute cover version of Paul Simon's "America", which (because of its extensive intrumental passages) is just as much fun as "Yours is no Disgrace" or "Siberian Khatru" - although not quite as original and daring as the latter.

Review by Slartibartfast
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
5 stars Fragile review number 356? Well, at least I'm number 356 to rate it. This album has been so burned into my brain that I'd lost interest in it. Still, I decided to go for the re-master. This marks just my third copy. I have a LP with a slightly worn cover and pristine vinyl disc, an unremastered CD, and now this.

Since this album has been reviewed ad-nausem for content, I thought I might add my thoughts about the packaging. The original LP has of course the classic Roger Dean artwork on the cover, but the inside of the gatefold is just plain gray paper with text. The first CD version did include all the text/lyrics from the LP. But the remaster is extremely well packaged. Lots of photos of the band members. Even better is two pieces of Dean artwork (I assume) on the front and back covers of the CD booklet. Also, for the first time you get the lyrics to We Have Heaven. I honestly never knew Jon Anderson was singing "Tell the Moon-dog, tell the March-hare". To be honest, I was never sure what the hell he was singing.

As to the content, the remaster is excellent. It just arrived today and I sat down, popped on the headphones and gave it my undivided attention. After a listen on the headphones, I can't say I hear anything new. Always a pleasant surprise when that does happen. There are two bonus tracks. I'm glad to see America here, even though it sounds more like something that belongs to the Tony Kaye era than Wakeman's. I really like the mix of "solo" and ensemble pieces, particularly Wakeman's sort of demo of what the keyboards and synthesizers could do in those days. Of course the real gems on this album are the three ensemble pieces, which didn't get commercial airplay: South Side of the Sky, Long Distance Runaround, and Heart of the Sunrise. These are the epitome of what great progressive rock is all about: complex compositions, interesting and sometimes enigmatic lyrics, impeccable musicianship. The only question left is has this album become so common to no longer qualify as essential but merely excellent? I'm going to straddle the fence with a 4.5, rounds to 5.

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

Where all the pieces of the puzzle finally fit!!! This is the second classic YES album where all the5 cylinders are running to the same level speedding to reach new heights creatively. YES will also break commercially with this album as the leading track ROUNDABOUT , a great JON ANDERSON/STEVE HOWE composition lead by the monstrous sound of the bass of CHRIS SQUIRE will get significant air play time and still does nowadays on classic rock stations.

This is also one of the main albums that will bring prog music to (relatively)mass consumption proving it was possible in 1971 to create new astounding ,technical and beautiful music and be successful at the same time without putting your pants down in the name of commercialism. Ah! the good old times.

You can find a few great YES classics on FRAGILE that will be stamples on their live repertoires for decades to come.Besides ROUNDABOUT , you also get the fantastic HEART OF THE SUNRISE , LONG DISTANCE RUNAROUND and the underappreciated SOUTH SIDE OF THE SKY! All all-time prog classics!

Some critics complain about the 5 mini-solo pieces from each musician including on FRAGILE. i don't think they are a letdown as they bridge perfectly between the longer pieces. They are showcasing the abilities of our 5 guys but in no way are showing off. They are just delicate pieces of music placed as a nice introduction to the ''classics'' of the album. They are a nice addition and make FRAGILE a unique great album. Hey, when on tour , THE FISH and MOOD FOR A DAY are still performed live!!

Also FRAGILE marks the entrance of ROGER DEAN whose cover art-design will add to the YES mystic and legendary status of YESmusic. I think ROGER DEAN art has a good part in the success of the band with his mysterious beautiful world drawings; not to forget the classic YES logo. I remember not being too happy when YES released GOING FOR THE ONE with no ROGER DEAN artwork, now you can imagine my face when 90125 was released!!!!!

As a pillar of any serious prog collection, even rock collection, ther is no way i can give less than 5 stars to FRAGILE. No way! An all-time classic!!

Review by kenethlevine
2 stars This album seems to be built around 5 pieces, one dominated by each member of the group, and several full band efforts. The problem is, the individual contributions are not that interesting, and the collaborations too often sound like they were rushed into production, as if they had limited time and just had to show they could play together too. Very few are captivating although some are jam oriented enough if that is your thing.

"Roundabout" is a bit hard to evaluate anymore after almost 4 decades of overplay. I really don't ever need to hear it again but, that said, it is a good track if artificially elongated. Probably the most noteworthy individual performance is that of Squire in "The Fish", which follows very well from the weak "Long Distance Runaround". Another unappealing work in spite of its wonderful title is "Heart of the Sunrise", as it purposelessly meanders through its pastiche of abrupt riffs and vocal snippets, but it is great compared to the monumental failure "South Side of the Sky".

While it may have been groundbreaking in its day, Fragile is a non starter today unless you are committed to complexity for the sake of it. It's interesting how much better the sequel "Close to the Edge" has held up.

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
5 stars On Fragile, Rick Wakeman replaced Tony Kaye on keyboards thus completing what would be considered the "classic" lineup. Their first album together was quite an achievement. On par with the sound the band created on The Yes Album, Fragile takes it up just a notch making this a somewhat better album in my view.

The core of the album is chiefly the longer songs: Roundabout, South Side of the Sky and Heart of the Sunrise (plus the shorter Long Distance Runaround). Interspersed between these songs are shorter "solo" pieces each member contributed. Some reviewers have considered these as sub-par, and by themselves I have to agree that some of them are not really special. However, in my mind, together as a whole, they make Fragile a more cohesive work and I can't imagine the album without them. Instead of filler, they have more of a feel of bridges between the longer core songs. Squire's contribution of The Fish is more of a beautiful outro to Long Distance Runaround.

Like The Yes Album, the complex bass playing, skilled guitar work, beautiful harmonies, soaring vocals, and dynamic drum work are still present. The key addition to the overall sound is the addition of keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman. Not that Tony Kaye wasn't bad (he was quite a skilled player too), but Wakeman is about as top-notch as one can get. His name is always mentioned in at least the top-5 whenever there is a "best keyboardist" poll. He fills the Yes sound with not only his wizardry and skill, but with beautiful soundscapes as well.

Fragile is an exceptional follow-up to The Yes Album and a masterpiece on its own. Just slightly better than the band's previous masterpiece. Easily five stars, both for the music and its historical significance to this genre.

Review by Dim
4 stars The album that officially launched prog rock into mainstream radio for a couple of years with the glorious song Roundabout.Truly a great album, but with a bit too much filler/personal songs on it to b worthy of a five, but any true progger needs this album to understand the beauty that is YES.

Now I've heard many people complain that they do not like roundabout because it's too mainstream. I can only ask them, How can you say that? It's very experimental, with key changes and rythym changes, and a keyboard solo with wakeman making the organ sound like a synthesizer. Saying this is a bad song is saying Yes is a bad band, because, this is an epidomy Yes song.

Now most of the album is made of personel tunes:

Cans and Brahms: Kinda cheesy/corny, maybe some of you classical guys like it

We have heaven: Very cool and funny

Five percent for nothing: Short, but technical

The Fish (schilindrea prematus): AWESOME bass work

Mood for a day: beautiful classical guitar

The other tracks are obviously legends (maybe except south side of the sky), but I consider that one just a s good!

South side of the sky: Excellent! The Steves fills make this song, they are just amazing, actually you hear most of them in the guitar solo on yours is no discrace on Yessongs. The piano part is great and the middle sections la-la-la's are also very amusing.

Long distance runaround- Nice short almost poppy song, it has to mean something, I dont know what, but it has to!

Heart of the sunrise- If you havent heard this song, I can honestly not call you a Yes fan! Very assertive, with everyone at the top of their game, especially Jon's passionate vocals. Probably my favirote track on the album!

There's fragile, it's actually quite different from what you would exspect if you have only heard roundabout. Good diverse and solid album, 4.5, just barly lacking what it needs, for perfection!

Review by jammun
5 stars From those opening guitar harmonics of Roundabout, this one is special no doubt about it.

Roundabout probably gets dissed due to the familiarity -- too many of us have heard it hundreds of times. However, tt's a great opener for the album. But there is much better further along the groove.

Myself, I don't care that much for the various 'personal' songs -- excepting Five Percent For Nothing and The Fish -- but the rest here is all top drawer. Look at it: Roundabout, South Side of the Sky, Long Distance Runaround, Heart of the Sunrise. I type these out by memory, with nary a peek at the album cover; they are essential to prog. Has any prog band ever written four better songs presented on a single album?

I maintain that when this was recorded, the Squire/Bruford rhythm section was the best in rock. Just listen to the first 2-3 minutes of Heart of the Sunrise if you have doubts. Howe is masterful throughout. Wakeman does not sound fully integrated with the band, having just joined, but nonetheless makes some nice contributions. Given that this is Yes's best album, I'll give it a 4.5 and round up. It's the one essential Yes album.

Review by Prog-jester
2 stars I’ve never been a YES fan, but I’ve grown to use to them and sometimes enjoy their classic records. “Fragile” falls outside this category with only few tracks to enjoy really.

On their fourth album YES still suffers from BEATLES/Proto-Prog inspiration roots, and shorter tracks confirm this easily. Serving as filler, they’re contrasting a lot with excellent “Roundabout”, good “South Side of the Sky” and nice “Heart of a Sunrise”. Only “Long Distance Runaround” and “Mood for a Day” somewhat noticeable among shorties, and second is my favourite acoustic guitar piece to play. YES is undeniably up-lifting, pure “happy” Prog, and this is not my music honestly. It’s not like I’m bashing the dinosaurs, I simply share my thoughts on this record with you. Despite my taste I can’t deny their professionalism and level of musicianship. And after all, “Roundabout” is a really good track, hands down ;) But others fail to amuse me that much. With little importance to my personal likings “Fragile” receives 2.5 stars.

Review by Sinusoid
5 stars This review will be one of the most ballooned one I've ever done; it has a personal significance with me.

I had really not been into music for most of my life except for the last year of high school and first semester of college when I started dipping into seventies rock. At the time, Rush and Pink Floyd were quickly becoming my fav bands, but I really didn't know how to categorise them. A little Internet browsing led me to learn about a genre called progressive rock, and I had to naturally seek out other bands in that genre since I loved Rush and Pink Floyd so much back then. Yes was one of the first artists I sought out.

I had heard very little of Yes before hand barring bits and pieces of ''Roundabout''. I was milling through a Borders store one day and there it was, Yes's FRAGILE album. I wanted to purchase it since it had ''Roundabout'' on it, and I did and took the album home with me. Needless to say that once I pushed the PLAY button on my CD player, my life would change forever.

Everything I had heard before then suddenly seemed to pale in comparison to what Yes produced here. Even if I had heard the riff to ''Roundabout'' beforehand, throughout the whole song I was on the edge of my seat, taken aback by the crushing guitar riffs, soaring vocals, piercing basslines and powerful organ solos. Being a bass player, I couldn't resist that Chris Squire sound that is prevalent throughout the whole album. It has that rich tone and hard edge that was just begging for me to notice.

There a unique type of sound that Yes exerts here, and it's not just from Squire's bass and Anderson's vocal work. Bill Bruford excels here in the drumming department, providing tight rhythms and solid grooves without ever overdoing it. It has that sense of complexity without overdoing it; a good example of this is on ''Heart of the Sunrise''. Steve Howe's guitar is also very crucial to the Yes sound as it can riff, solo and plunk away with the best of them.

I want to discuss the meat of the album now, the actual songs themselves. In FRAGILE, there are five solo type pieces Yes did. Rick Wakeman's ''Cans and Brahms'' and Steve Howe's ''Mood for a Day'' are nothing but nice pieces showcasing the talents of the respective performers. Bruford's ''Five Percent for Nothing'' is a crazy little short piece that comes and goes. My two favourite solo pieces are Anderson's ''We Have Heaven'' (very addicting to me) and Squire's ''The Fish'' (the central groove is amazingly catchy, and all of the bass tricks on top are just bonus).

''Long Distance Runaround'' isn't that much of note, but it's still a solid song and perfectly segues into ''The Fish''. It's a nice, short little tune that kinda has that pop sound, but I think ''Roundabout'' pulled it off much better. Speaking of, that ''Roundabout'' was the first Yes song I really sank my teeth into. It has very catchy, jumpy basslines, dexterous guitar work and excellent drumming. There's a solid rock core to the song that makes it sound accessible, yet has enough inner complexities to give it depth.

But I haven't gotten to the two songs that will really make proggers go nuts. Firstly, ''South Side of the Sky'' has a very overt heaviness to it, almost like a proto-prog-metal thing. The heavy sound on the bass is intense, but the piano lines during the choir section are just fantastic. But then there's the pseudo-epic in ''Heart of the Sunrise''. It has this intense instrumental opening broken up by this funky, bass-led thing. It gets very quiet when the vocals come in, but the intensity of the piece keeps wavering up and down throughout the entire thing, going through different motifs without sounding stale or tired. But the very end of the piece is well worth sitting through the ten minutes that came before, making the epic feel complete and purposeful.

I feel like I went into too much detail on this review. I also feel like I ballooned my rating to masterpiece when the shorter pieces and possibly ''Long Distance Runaround'' could've easily made another keep this at four stars. However, I feel that on FRAGILE and the following CLOSE TO THE EDGE, we have the quintessential progressive rock sound. It's a great springboard for any new progster to get into the genre as THE YES ALBUM is a tad too spotty and CLOSE TO THE EDGE can get slightly long in spots. But despite any possible shortcomings, this album is one I would highly recommend for anyone interested in prog. I am shutting up soon.

On a bonus note, Yes does an amazing interpretation of Simon and Garfunkel's ''America'', although the guitar solo section gets a little too long-winded at times. The keyboard and bass parts are well worth the listen, though.

Review by Prog Leviathan
5 stars Effortless class, musicianship, energy, virtuosity, and smarts ooze from every second of this most classic of classic prog albums. The playing is incomparable, shattering the competition with dizzying talent and doubtlessly leaving their impression on the listener with the perfect mix of rock and weird. This is the place to begin discovering Yes!

The high level of musicianship and class is evident as soon as Howe's beautifully articulated guitar opens the album, followed by Squire's defining bass grooves and Wakeman's ambitious and enjoyable synth. Although Fragile get some flak for featuring too many short, solo works by the group's individual artists, I feel that they give the album a unique personality and merge cohesively into the full-length, which songs are some of the most memorable of this era. None of the other prog bands of the time approach the intensity of Yes in, say Heart of the Sunrise, which features dynamic playing which positively defines the genre.

Fragile is sure to appeal to a wide variety of listeners with its fine rock energy and ambitious delivery and is as essential as classic prog gets.

Songwriting: 5 Instrumental Performances: 5 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Review by LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After the fluffy, uneven The Yes Album, which mostly felt like a blunt attempt at more pompous music - in mixing trippier, happy pop with richer, pseudo-orchestrated music - Yes flexes their muscles in a terrifying way with Fragile. Speculation if whether the addition of Rick Wakeman was the missing piece of the puzzle seems a little vain, but I can't deny that the incredible shift towards greater compositions, a more mature sound, a lot more sinister edge and a vast improvement of the keyboard sound must have originated in a spark of some sort. Suddenly Yes is performing at full potential, with each member's skill highlighted and brought up front. And not only by working as a group, but also via short but sweet solo parts dotted across the album. It's an upgrade in production, it's an upgrade in overall sound and it's the first essential Yes album for me.

Fragile is nothing of what it name suggests. It's an altogether heavier effort compared to The Yes Album, but at the same time also more delicate. Much of this can of course be accredited to Wakeman's contribution, which opens up the whole guidebook of prog keys (piano, oh the sweet piano) with his frequent and immodest runs from the gear he has to his disposal. But what's most important for me is the immediate surprise of how Steve Howe and Chris Squire suddenly fills their shoes and deserves the hero status they've reached in many a music lover's heart. The interplay between Wakeman and Howe, in combining the sometimes noodling style of the two, moving in and out of the song in a co-ordinated way, brings the best out of them both and forms a fluent melodic carpet on which the sharp bass and Jon Andersons vocal can bring the songs forward in a steady pace. It is not as apparent here as on later albums, but it's a pleasure hearing it for the first time. Neither Wakeman nor Howe fear delivering textures though, and thus prevents the album from becoming entirely carried by the other three.

The album's backbone is without doubt formed by the three longer songs on the album: Roundabout, South Side of the Sky and Heart of the Sunrise. Roundabout is one of those instantly catchy songs that will stay in your head forever after hearing, especially the chorus' steady guitar riff and sparkling organ. It starts with a brooding guitar with smooth harmonics until it unfolds in a characteristic pungent bassline from Squire. Howe more in the background here, with some textural chord work. It more or less continues this way (but with refrain) up to the point where another segment, darker and heavier, kicks in. Carried by Squire and Howe, Bruford adds an extra percussive touch together with a determined Wakeman manning the organ. It's then back to the beginning again, but with mellow twist and a soft-singing Anderson, which...but you know all this and more don't you?

Better give the solo songs a little credit instead. I've never found them redundant, and far from over-the-top. To me they're a great expression of the artistic freedom and democracy in the band at this stage, a chance to show off on you own with the blessing of your bandmates and perhaps the ultimate way of presenting all the aspects of your combined sound. The classically oriented parts of Wakeman and Howe, the spear-heading bass of Squire and Jon Anderson's unique voice. The only thing missing is an extended solo by Bruford. But you can't have everything.

Essential, representative and delicious. 4 stars.


Review by TGM: Orb
4 stars Review 41, Fragile, Yes, 1971


Usually I try to avoid the line of thinking that a band has a magnum opus period and everything before that is building up to it. However, I can't help it here. Cape-wearing keyboardist Rick Wakeman appears to have been the missing piece in the Yes puzzle. Not only are his distinctive, intelligently used and manifold keyboards perfect for the Squire-Howe-Bruford-Anderson sound in a way that Kaye's organ simply wasn't, but he also provides the compositional/arrangement edge that Yes desperately needed, adding flawless bridges and banishing any temptations to step down from a song's overall flow with a bit of TYA bombast. Now, onto the album, the group pieces are exceptional, intelligent, well-timed and absolutely wonderful. The solo pieces are a more mixed bag. This is more than essential, but not consistent enough for a masterpiece.

I'm going to start this review with South Side Of The Sky, because it is, in my humble opinion, the best thing that Yes have ever done, and one of the greatest ever progressive pieces. A biting, suicidal energy, a bleak, tragic beauty, incredible playing and atmosphere, fantastic lyrics from Jon Anderson and a sense of deeper connection that I have had with only a very few other pieces.

During a walk earlier this year, I was walking on Kinder Downfall or some other such 600M+ near-mini-mountain in the lovely Peak or Lake District (my memory is vague). There were substantial windspeeds (50-60 mph, could well have been less, if I remember), I was poorly waterproofed, rain soaked me to the skin, jumper, three shirts, coat, hat, coat hood, gloves all drenched. Even changes of gloves, hat and jumper weren't a big help. Hail and sleet followed the rain as I got progressively more tired, and eventually we were on the exposed part of the rocky near-mountain, with a sheer slope on one side. Every bone in my body was freezing, I felt a need to carry on, manically, and place one foot in front of the other, interspersed with moments of resignation. It is easily the most uncomfortable I have ever been in my life (sheltered though it's been). An unforgettable experience.

What Yes have done in South Side Of The Sky is unwittingly convert that experience into music. Every note of that song conveys something to me, as does every lyrical line and repeat. For music as a form of pure expression and imagery, it does not get better for me, and I'm certain that the experience of discomfort in the, at that time, less-than-entirely-delightful British countryside of February or March 2008 is something to do with that.

Whirling winds open the song, and Bruford explodes in with a percussion solo. Howe appears similarly out of nowhere as Wakeman's synth oscillates. An organ comes in, accompanied by Squire's throbbing bass, and Howe gives the song a number of edges that reflect the adrenaline as well as the desperation. Bruford continues to crash intelligently throughout the piece, providing metallic clashes and a number of drum choices. Wakeman leaps around keyboards throughout the piece, providing several atmospheric touches as well as his more conventional organ. Throughout, Anderson gives us brilliant, descriptive and narrative lyrics, telling the story of doomed polar expedition. His vocals do not disappoint, only concentrate the atmosphere that everyone else has been building.

We get one of my all-time favourite piano solos (I have a lot of them) from Wakeman, who gives us a haunting edge, a feeling of the real cold of the place and the descent into death as well as a contrast to the density of the rest of the piece. He is gradually joined by Bruford and Squire as well as multiple clever individual vocals. It returns to the piano solo, and a humming synth meets it. Bruford bursts in with monstrous timing, Howe provides several guitar parts with the feel of death and loss of control very much in there and Anderson's sustained vocals are simply perfect. Another wuthering synth ends the piece. The piece is perfect. The rest of the album is not South Side Of The Sky, unfortunately.

Roundabout was initially a bit of an enigma for me. I can appreciate all the components and the arrangement is superbly done. A haunting synth and Steve Howe's gorgeous, dark classical guitar give way to Squire's lightning-fast leading bass. Bruford thuds on behind with a rock beat contrasted with some clever variation, and Howe moves between the background and the foreground flawlessly. Wakeman provides excellent organ, and the Anderson-Squire-Howe harmony vocals come into their own. Bruford provides some hollower and unusual percussion in a darker, more packed section with a clever Howe-Wakeman duet. We get a superb organ solo from the Caped One, and Howe also gives us a couple of brief ideas. The band are able to repeat the same basic ideas with a completely altered feel, creating a masterful song, as well as providing us with a superb range of ideas in the eight minute or so period of time. An incredible song, but one that didn't originally grab me on an emotional level. I've since revised this opinion.

The cheerful Long Distance Run-Around, with its bouncy feel, basic-riff-reliance and multiple clever parts, is very much the successor of A Venture. It is, however, miles better than its predecessor, with Wakeman's spinning Moog providing some variety, and the opportunities for the band to burst out a little much welcomed. Squire is a standout throughout, with his bass suddenly providing a texture or a brief spray of notes.

Heart Of The Sunrise, as a contrast to the preceding Mood For A Day, begins with a surprisingly savage burst of energy from Bruford, Wakeman and Howe. Squire and Bruford work around each other masterfully in a darker, slower, more haunting piece, with a lead bass part, amazing drumming and a haunting mellotron from The Caped One. Howe again brings the piece into its frenzied, heavy section with Moog and later organ additions used brilliantly, and then back down into a gentle echo of the earlier haunting section and a soft electric with Anderson's vocals. After these three minutes of absolutely brilliant sonic battery, Anderson's voice with its beauty, but yet rather careful edge and lyrical hooks and ideas, is even better placed. Squire provides some lead bass, Bruford plays around with his drumkit, and Wakeman's set of Moog and piano provide a lot of different ideas. Howe is able to return to the mix effortlessly, and leave it with just as little fuss. Wakeman, Squire and Howe exchange ideas in a cooler, less manic variation on the opening chaos and a careful piano leads us down into another jumpy vocal with a bass humming along behind. The majestic conclusion, with a mock-triumphant, yet lost vocal from Anderson leads up to a squirreling Howe disappearing. Up 'til now, a perfect piece, with ideas oozing from every corner, versatility, clever essential repeats. The door creaks open and suddenly we get a repeat of ****ing We Have Heaven. The song was perfect. Why did they have to go and butcher it with that ending?

I doubt that Yes would have been create any one of these pieces without Rick Wakeman. Much as more than a few people worship the jazzy overtones of Moraz (who is, I admit an excellent player) or the blocky organ of Tony Kaye (which is basically the same on half of The Yes Album), but I cannot see either of them ever creating these amazing pieces. The Caped One deserves all the fawning worship-threads he gets, in my opinion.

Onto the solo pieces:

Rick Wakeman's Cans And Brahms is essentially playing Brahms ' on all sorts of keyboardy instruments. The sleeve notes say exactly which. I don't particularly care either way about it. It's good enough, not particularly annoying in the contest, and has a good whimsical feel.

We Have Heaven is not so neutral. It features multiple Anderson vocals over a consistent guitar riff and some other additions from various features. It's amazing how annoying the merge of Anderson-related noises gets after a minute or so. The lyrics are pretty mindless. The door shutting followed by running is a precursor to the end of Heart Of The Sunrise.

Squire's Schindleria Praematurus (The Fish) is a little more substantial than the previous solo pieces, with a number of bizarre bass parts merging into each other very well and Bruford trundling along behind with tappings on various things. A harmony accompanies the piece as it fades. I'm not mad about this one, since I feel the individual parts are rather too repeated. It feels more like overdubbed bass parts than an actual arranged and clever multiple-bass piece. The other thing is, as a bass performance, it's seriously over-rated. The idea is innovative and does spotlight the bass, but the playing and thought behind the piece isn't even in the same league as Heart Of The Sunrise, America or Roundabout, in my opinion.

Mood For A Day is the reason the solo pieces were worth including. Howe provides a gorgeous, emotional classicaly-inspired solo guitar, with a combination of lead melodies, backing notes throughout and some intelligently-used strumming. Uplifting and beautiful, as well as being wonderfully titled.

Onto the bonus material:

The longer Yes version of Simon And Garfunkel's America was a great choice with Squire's throbbing bass, Wakeman's multiplicity of keyboards and Bruford's innovations and general crashing showing off themselves nicely. Anderson provides his own feel for the lyrics. The combination of softer and louder sections works very neatly, and it gives Howe the opportunities to chord out a lot as well as handle some brief and extended soloing with great relish. A great cover. I didn't really need the extra version of Roundabout, but it's a nice conclusion for the album as a whole, so I can live with it. Jon Anderson forgets some of the lyrics, it seems (or decides not to add them in), which is quite funny, and Bruford provides a more rocking performance, which is interesting. In brief, not a terrible pick as a bonus track.

This album, even if I could have done without some parts of it and don't really care for the conclusion to Heart Of The Sunrise myself, is absolutely essential to any fan of progressive rock. This is an incredible step forwards from The Yes Album, and at its high points a match for Close To The Edge. It is a shame that a few choices in the solo ideas, and that damnable end to Heart Of The Sunrise make the album less fun to listen to as a whole.

Rating: Four Stars. The group ideas are brilliant, the solo ideas don't convince me. Favourite Track: South Side Of The Sky

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Fragile is the fourth album from symphonic prog rockers Yes. It´s a great album in many respects but it´s not flawless and I´ve had a hard time thinking about which rating I was gonna use for Fragile. More about that later.

Fragile sees the inclusion of keyboard virtuoso Rick Wakemann which is an excellent addition to Yes sound. Tony Kaye was primarely an organ based keyboard player and while that was very enjoyable, Rick Wakemann adds a whole new aspect to Yes sound with his more classical inspired piano work and his more synth based playing.

Fragile consist of nine songs. Four are group efforts and the five remaining tracks are solo compositions from each of the members.

The four group efforts are very enjoyable songs and especially the three long songs Roundabout, South Side Of The Sky and my favorite on Fragile Heart Of The Sunrise are excellent symphonic prog rock. I´ll go as far as calling Heart of the Sunrise one of the best songs ever made in that genre. The last group effort song is Long Distance Runaround which is good, but not remarkable. These four songs are the core of Fragile.

The five solo efforts are of varied quality and relevance. Cans And Brahms which is Rick Wakemann´s composition is very unneccessary IMO. Boring classical themes that would have been better suited on an ELP album. Cans And Brahms are followed by We Have Heaven which is Jon Anderson´s composition. It´s really not that exciting either. Five Percent For Nothing is Bill Bruford´s effort and this one might be even more unneccessary than the two first solo efforts. The whole band plays for sixteen bars and everything follows the drums. No melody only rythm. Needless to say this sounds a bit too experimental on a Yes album. This kind of experimentation works better when someone like Frank Zappa does it. He can pull this sort of thing of with ease. The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus) which is Chris Squire´s composition is made out of lots of differnet bass sections and drums. It´s allright but nothing special. Mood for a Day is Steve Howe´s effort and really it´s the only solo composition worth my time. It´s a beautiful classical guitar piece.

The musicianship is of course some of the best you could get in the early seventies and on Fragile Yes have taken a step forward from The Yes Album with the addition of Rick Wakemann.

The production is excellent. Again this is the best you could get in the early seventies.

Fragile should have been called Fragmented as there is a big difference in quality between the group and the solo efforts on the album. I was considering giving Fragile a 3 star rating because of the poor and rather disturbing solo efforts but came to my senses as they only take up about 10 minutes of the 40 minutes total playing time. Which means about 7 minutes of wasted time because Mood for a Day is really beautiful and a great addition to Fragile. So 33 minutes of excellent music is enough for me to give Fragile 4 stars but be warned that you´ll be disturbed in your listening pleasure by some very unneccessary solo efforts from the various members of the band. The 33 minutes are just so good that I can´t jusify giving Fragile less than the 4 stars.

Review by Petrovsk Mizinski
5 stars This album is one of the first prog albums that made me understand I like prog music and one of the very first prog albums I fell in love with. I recall just listening to this album every day for weeks on end, and sometimes I still go through this feeling that makes me want to listen to the album repeatedly, and I know for sure, I'll always experience that feeling of wanting to repeatedly listen to it. The line up is just top notch, and with the introduction of the supremely talented Rick Wakeman on keyboards, replacing Tony Kaye, the band's overall musicianship is stepped up a notch.

Unlike the previous Yes studio releases, this album would showcase the individual talents of the band members in the form of solo pieces entirely written by one member and in one case, one piece written and played by one member.

The album kicks off with Roundabout, with a melodic somewhat classic guitar style intro from Howe. There is some seriously cool funky bass licks from Squire, something which is always a joy for me to listen to. Given bass wasn't always an instrument that stuck out such much in bends, it was no doubt enjoyable to hear Squire helping to cement bass as more prominent instrument. Add to this with some stunning keyboard work from Wakeman, and altogether we have a catchy yet fairly complex and yet highly enjoyable piece of music. Cans and Brahms is indeed a piece by Johannes Brahms and consists of extracts from the 3rd movement of the 4th Symphony in E minor by Brahms, but here we have Rick Wakeman's own arrangement of it. Very nice song, if perhaps not one of the stronger songs on here. Next is Jon Anderson's solo piece, where he sings all the vocal parts, and it's a remarkable arrangement of vocals, and sounds very beautiful. South Side Of The Sky. Wow. I can't get over how blown away I am by this song time and time again. The compositional changes are just spot on, and the instrumental break is just stunning, simply stunning. It's been describe as the heavens opening up for the dying people on their fateful polar expedition, and it certainly the instrumental break evokes that feeling for me too. Bill's solo piece, is very quirky, and over quickly, but satisfying nonetheless. Long Distance Run Around is somewhat catchy too, but doesn't skimp on the expected Yes musicianship, so a very balanced song it is indeed, although not one of the better tracks on here though. The Fish is just awesome. At the time, it was very innovative and certainly helped the bass guitar to become known not just as a rhythm and backing instrument, but an instrument that can come to the forefront of the mix and in the process be very emotive and expressive as well. This is the piece of music that really made me truly respect Squire for his talents. Steve's piece, is a lovely classical/Spanish guitar piece, with a degree of Flamenco influence thrown in as well, as well as continuing to demonstrate his prowess on the classical guitar. I always feel very touched listening to this song. Heart Of The Sunrise starts off very crazy, but soon we discover it's a complex piece, and a nice way to end the album. I remember the first time I heard it, I didn't expect so many twists and turns and attention to detail, but it was all there in it's brilliant glory. I do have the re-issue with the Simon and Garfunkel cover song, which is very good, although perhaps you don't need it to truly experience the genius of this album.

The band succeeded in creating something truly remarkable and for that, it's nothing less than a masterpiece.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
5 stars The Yes album

This is the album that introduced me to Yes and I can still remember the very first time I heard Roundabout. The intro to this song immediately grabbed my attention and by the time Rick enters with his amazing keyboard playing I was hooked forever! Yes have continued to impress me ever since. Indeed, Yes is by far my favourite band of all time and this album contains some of their very best material ever. This album is a real classic, and a true must have for all Prog fans, indeed for all serious music fans!

Roundabout, South Side Of The Sky (from which I take my nick-name), Mood For A Day and Heart Of The Sunrise are all timeless classics, constant live favourites and among Yes' best material ever. I agree that this album is not absolutely perfect. Rick's and Bill's individual pieces are throwaways, and Jon's and Chris' pieces are perhaps not too interesting either. I'm certain that if they had put a bit more effort into their individual pieces this album could have been ranked up there with Close To the Edge. But still, these individual pieces help to make the album varied and special.

I don't have very much more to say, just get this album right away because it is simply one of the best albums of all time by anyone. A personal favourite too. For me this is the Yes album.

Despite some minor imperfections, this is a total masterpiece if there ever was one.

Review by russellk
5 stars No matter the genre, there's something awe-inspiring about listening to a band at the peak of their craft.

In my view 'The Yes Album' represented a new pinnacle in rock. 'Fragile's mountain is equally lofty: its rarefied summit unattainable by mortals, who can only gaze upwards in wonder from the lower slopes. As I crane my neck and stare, I can only marvel at what YES accomplished.

The album is constructed similarly to its predecessor, in my view. Much is made of the group's self-indulgence, in that they intersperse the album with short pieces showcasing each member's talents, but I do think this argument is overstated. You'd never come across a more self-indulgent musician than RICK WAKEMAN - EMERSON, perhaps, I don't know why possession of a keyboard makes people think they're Chopin - but he limits himself to less than two minutes. BRUFORD gets half a minute. And the other three pieces are entirely worthy of their place on this record. Like 'The Yes Album' four extended pieces form the corners of the record: in this case, 'Roundabout', 'South Side of the Sky', 'Long Distance Runaround/The Fish' and 'Heart of the Sunrise', appearing in more or less the same places as do the four extended compositions on the preceding album. The shorter pieces are woven around those four enormous slabs of music, providing variety, rest and relief - allowing us to come down from the summit for the occasional brief respite.

'Roundabout' is prog rock's signature tune. Against all commercial reason a shortened version of this epic made it on to the charts. I've never heard the single edit, nor do I have any desire to. Like 'Yours is no Disgrace' from their previous album, this is musical perfection. The compositional balance is stunning, with an intro dramatic in its simplicity. HOWE's harmonics and acoustic guitar are so clean, so sharp, one is immediately aware of being somewhere new. Then in comes the fabled rhythm section, SQUIRE's bass grinding and tearing at your intestines, that overdriven Rickenbacker growling, stepping up and down the amazing tonal range he uses. While HOWE is a fabulous guitar player, YES's glory days were dominated by SQUIRE and his bass filled the gap usually occupied by guitar heroes or keyboard whizzes. BRUFORD indulges in his masterful trickery, constantly withholding the expected beat, the very epitome of syncopation, and ANDERSON provides the vocal impetus and harmonies (with SQUIRE) that were the foundation of the band. There's simply no weakness here. Riffs and melodies are snatched from the gods and sprinkled throughout the song, called into being on a whim, retired and then brought back again exactly at the right moment, ensuring that the eight minutes passes far too soon. The intro is reprised, WAKEMAN flashes a keyboard solo at us and the song comes to a climax with harmonised vocals lifting us even higher. Even the nonsensical imagery is perfect: mountains, lakes, ten true summers; the band is painting on a canvas the size of the world. This music captured my heart when I first heard it, and I remain totally in thrall to it.

A short interlude follows. Give thanks, my friends, that we didn't end up with one of Henry VIII's wives here. Far from self-indulgence, the band is applying serious restraint. WAKEMAN's Brahms folly is followed by ANDERSON's 'We Have Heaven', a track I consider a real highlight. Remember that SQUIRE and ANDERSON originally got together to explore vocal harmonies, and on this track - a sophisticated 'round', where layer after layer of vocals are added to a simple tune - the band demonstrates their playfulness. I can't praise this vignette highly enough, and finish by pointing out that, again, it is restrained almost to the point of sparseness in its length.

The second monolith of the album is up next, heralded by the blowing of a cold wind, signalling a return to the lofty, snow-covered peaks of musical achievement. This track sees HOWE at his most aggressive, his guitar snarling like a mountain lion over the top of a solid rhythm section. SQUIRE holds back here, allowing HOWE to come to the fore. The track is rather simple by YES standards, two sections of verse/chorus separated by a quieter middle section in which WAKEMAN stretches his musical legs and plays some very impressive classical piano at us. Clever choice, that: those cold ivories complement the chilly feeling generated by this track's vocals, sound effects and lyrics.

BRUFORD opens the second side by dashing through the only truly dispensable track on the album, barely allowing us time to shuffle in our seats before the band roars into the third extended workout. Perhaps I'm pushing things here to label 'Long Distance Runaround/The Fish' as one track, but as both works are dominated by SQUIRE's astonishing bass and are joined by a deliberate segue, that's how I see them. One does not get played without the other. Again, the track is reminiscent of the two part 'I've Seen All Good People' from 'The Yes Album'. Listen to that bass work. Delight in the downward slides, enjoy the bass rumble, see how it all fits together. Marvel at a rhythm section the like of which you'll not hear again. Enjoy how they bring back the intro two-thirds of the way through. Then appreciate the segue as SQUIRE lets loose with 'The Fish', his harmonics augmented by the addition of layer after layer of bass sounds: one of the few examples of using a backing instrument to make a stunning song. Indulgence? Never. This is brilliance.

STEVE HOWE gets to reprise 'The Clap' by playing his acoustic 'Mood for a Day', another respite, but a thoroughly enjoyable guitar adventure, with a melody of real beauty.

And finally the true peak of the album. 'Heart of the Sunrise' wins me over even before I hear it: what an evocative title! And the extended intro is a classic of the genre, with the fast motif leading into a slower piece where BRUFORD and SQUIRE show us just what syncopation is all about, a drum and bass duel that builds and builds. Note how SQUIRE selects when to use a lower note than in the previous run, watch him change it up on a seemingly random basis, be enthralled as BRUFORD holds back the beat, teasing you, building up tension; let the mellotron soak into you as the pressure increases, then HOWE's eagle guitar turns up late and soars over everything, until the music bursts back into the opening theme.

I'm sorry, there aren't the words to describe the depth and breadth of what these musicians achieve here.

Finally a sense of calm is brought to proceedings and ANDERSON's gentle vocals begin the song proper. Gentle vocals, and you know you're being set up: these lyrics will reappear at the song's end at full strength. Between now and then we wander off into lands where odd time signatures are the norm, where power is countered by fragility, and ANDERSON asks his plaintive, nonsensical questions. As with 'Roundabout', the band introduces and reprises a variety of themes, giving one the sense at first listen of hearing an old friend, yet providing delight on the hundredth meeting. Compositionally brilliant, these arrangements are immensely satisfying. And so the album reaches its highest peak as the music slows fractionally - a technique used at the end of 'Supper's Ready' - and ANDERSON belts out the opening lyrics amid a truly majestic backdrop. 'How can the wind with so many around me/I feel lost in the city!'

Suddenly it's over, and like every climber who has reached the summit of the world's highest mountain, the only way is down. But, staggeringly, it's not. In 1972 this band scale an even higher mountain. But that album in no way reduces the heights this one attains.

Review by ProgBagel
5 stars Yes - 'Fragile' 5 stars

Enter, Rick Wakeman.

I believe 'CTTE' and 'Relayer' are the finest works of Yes's career and music in general. But there is something that 'Fragile' has above all else, and that would be balance. The album has a perfect mix of 5 solo compositions that each was so interesting and innovative, given the knowledge behind each piece. The addition of Rick Wakeman gave Yes its undisputed classic line-up. Chris Squire ultimately set himself apart from all other bass players with his overpowering style that is clearly evident right away in 'Roundabout'.

The solo works:

'Cans and Brahms' by Rick Wakeman. Rick takes a classical piece by Brahms and plays the 5 different section on his keyboard and combines them all in. It is a wonderful adaptation and sounds beautiful.

'We Have Heaven' by Jon Anderson. This is along with Squire's piece, one of the most innovative tracks at the time and in today's standards. Anderson messed around with different tape effects for his voice and combined a numerous amount of vocal lines combined into one coherent piece. The track is one of the most interesting pieces I have heard while listening to a variety of music.

'Five Per Cent for Nothing' by Bill Bruford. Another track that is truly 'out there'. Based on a bar created by Bill, the band copies Bill's rhythm twice while he plays his one beat that creates an extremely unconventional track.

'The Fish' by Chris Squier. The most innovative track in music as far as I am concerned. This ridiculous track was made through Chris taking different sounds on his bass and writing multiple lines that he would mash together. Catchy and full of innovative ideas, this is a true 'classic' of music.

'Mood for a Day' by Steve Howe. Another shot at the classical guitar piece. This one was a complete hit. A brilliant piece that is still part of the Yes live staple today.

The band works:

After creating such unique tracks that show what the members can do by themselves, truly outshine it with all mini- epic track lengths that are each filled with undeniable brilliance. Songs like 'South Side of the Sky' that are nice rock songs, become disturbed and loose when Steve Howe breaks into the versus with fanatic guitar chops and rhythmatic leads. The symphonic brightening by Rick Wakeman in the beautiful closer 'Heart of the Sunrise' which also features Jon Anderson's vocals at their peak. Each member played in sync, yet threw in a little bit of what makes their style of music so unique and brilliant. Each band piece was massive in coherence matched with unconventional and erratic, yet seemingly controlled chaos.

The brilliance of both sides of composition, solo and collectively, were shown masterfully. Some people don't enjoy the solo works and think it is self-indulgent. I feel like it was a way to know what each member was about and what they can contribute. The band pieces showed the chemistry that they can create. An easy 5 star rating from me. A masterpiece without any doubt.

Review by poslednijat_colobar
5 stars Finally masterpiece from Yes!It is beautiful.The beauty and gentleness is all around this album.If you want romantic dinner with special woman this is the perfect album for that.The musicianship is perfect.When you listen to this album you can feel that one ancient greek harpist walk around the times and now is here for you!Fragile is a mixture between long and short songs with perfect structure and sound.The order of the songs is completed.The sound progression is so precise.The name of the first song is fundamental for the album.The ideas all around the album are developed with something like roundabouts.The ideas are not shared with the listeners directly,but with beautiful turns,which I called roundabouts.Just great.
Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Well, here is Review number 483 of a classic. So many reviews with so much detail so how can I add anything new to this review? In a word, impossible! There is little to be said really. With 'Fragile' we have one of the most incredible examples of musical virtuosity from arguably the best in the business. When it comes to Symphonic prog, Yes practically write the book and with 'Fragile' it is easy to see why they are hailed as masters of the genre.

Let's start with the line up - the ultimate prog band? When you have the likes of Bruford's magnificent drumming patterns merged with Squire's driving bass rhythms you need go no further. Wakeman has some really inspired moments on this album and is at his best. Howe's guitar work is tremendous with complex time signatures and relentless skilfully played finger picking. Then there's Jon Anderson who is in full voice and his performance is crystal clear on every track that he sings.

The album boasts the quintessential catalogue of Yes - Roundabout, South Side Of The Sky, Long Distance Runaround , Heart Of The Sunrise - what else do we need? Well, on this occasion Yes indulges in some of their solo material which ranges from forgettable to er... regrettable. The less said about them the better - the pompous arrogance of the pieces is of course, what we have come to expect from Yes but these fillers, yes I said fillers, only run for a total duration of about 10 minutes so nothing ventured nothing gained I guess.

In any case 'Fragile' is one of the best prog yes albums in the catalogue. Grab it now and enjoy!

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Five percent not spent in vain (okay, so I couldn't think up a better title).

Review number 300 and I finally roll around to this classic work from the masters of progressive rock, Yes's Fragile. This album was the first to showcase the talent of the wonderfully garbed and caped Rick Wakeman who would show his sparkle fresh out of The Strawbs on this album. The band has moved away from the somewhat psych-pop-prog styling of their previous album, The Yes Album, which showed the band hitting a wonderful niche which they'd still have one foot solid in while inching closer to the edge as they did. The playing on this album is sharper and the band seems to be exploding creatively as they collaborate to make some of their best signature pieces and a variety of solo ''shorts'' to be showcased on the album. Things are a bit more lively but a bit less organized than the last album thanks to the eclectic mix of backgrounds and influences from each member, but all in all we can see that the band is not far from reaching their pinnacle. Not far... but not quite there yet.

The individual songs on the album are quite memorable thanks to their overwhelming charm that Yes is so well known for. If ever you put on a Yes album you know what you're in for - uplifting riffs and keys paired with Anderson's high-pitched voice and non-nonsensical lyrics portrayed in a grandiose fashion by the lyrics. Things start to get more to the grandiose side of things on this album as compared to the last one since the band is here starting to get more accustomed to the whole ''pomp-rock'' thing as evident on the longer tracks like Heart Of The Sunrise with its surprisingly heavy opening riff and keys only to be toned down as Anderson's voice enters. Short, pop-ish, but no less impressive tracks still stand in the form of those like Long Distance Runaround which shows Yes at their closest to achieving second life as a rainbow (a very cheery song), and in the subsequent instrumentals which tie together to work to lengthen the tune like Chris Squire's soon to be namesake The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus) and Steve Howe's wonderful Mood For A Day.

Still, there's some things you wouldn't expect from the band. The opening tune to the album rocks so hard that no one could believe that it was Yes if not for the oh-so-Squire bass line that's involved. By now Roundabout has become a staple of the Yes canon, and for good reason, it stands as a testament that the bass can be played as a lead instrument, and songs over 8-minutes in length can obtain rapid FM air time. This is followed by two strange solo tunes, Rick Wakeman's interpretation of Cans and Brahms played in a very fun manner and Jon's a-Capella We Have Heaven when segues into one of the darkest songs ever published by the band. Surely Bruford was receiving some of King Crimson's evil powers prematurely when Yes wrote South Side Of The Sky, a dark tale which ends in death - hardly what we'd expect from these gents. Still, a standout among their catalog.

While the overall effect of the album may not stand as strong as later efforts, Fragile was still a well placed step for the YesMen, and from there they would go on to better things. Very much worth the investment and some might even say essential to a prog record collection. Essential? It sure is. Masterpiece is a bit of a strong word for the album, especially knowing what was to come from the band, but a strong 4.5 stars is to be awarded anyways. This is a classic Yes record, and every prog fan must hear it at some point in their lives.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars While the previous album was certainly a masterpiece, this one introduces the classic Yes sound, thanks in no small part to the addition of the Mellotron and the mini-Moog synthesizer. Another original Yes member is gone, and this time it's Kaye, despite his gradual improvement from the first album. But just as Howe proved to be a much needed member of Yes, Wakeman would prove to be extremely important in the development of the band. Chris Squire is not content to remain a mere rhythm section player; in most Yes music from here on out, the bass guitar stands out as much as any lead instrument. There are only four tracks in which the band really performs together, as the other five are meant to demonstrate the respective skill of each member. All the solo spots do demonstrate, however, is this one thing: The sum of Yes is always greater than each of the individuals themselves.

"Roundabout" As soon as Howe begins that easily recognized acoustic guitar introduction, progressive rock fans know what they're about to hear. The punchy sound of Squire's Rickenbacker 4001 is the most dominating of all the instruments most of the time. The lyrics reflect the rather nonsensical but optimistic nature most of Anderson's lyrics will take. Reflecting the importance of proving their choice to replace Kaye was a good one, Wakeman takes to the organ with a rollicking couple of solos. After a section heavy on vocalizations from the singers in the band, Howe repeats an acoustic riff from the introduction, but ends the song on a major chord.

"Cans and Brahms" This is Wakeman's solo spot. It's a somewhat hokey arrangement of Johannes Brahms's work that, perhaps due to the instrumentation, makes this sound like a child's television program's theme song from yesteryear.

"We Have Heaven" This is Anderson's solo spot. Like Wakeman's, it's something of a silly throwaway. Layers upon layers of Anderson's voice and acoustic guitar make up ninety-nine seconds of this record. This section will inexplicably be brought back at the very end of the album.

"South Side of the Sky" Arguably the darkest song on the album, "South Side of the Sky" features some blistering guitar work, Wakeman's finesse on the piano, and Anderson and Squire's clever vocal work. It starts with some sinister howling wind effects and Bruford introduces the band with several raps on his snare and toms. While I really like the song, I think the verse sections themselves reoccur far more often than they should.

"Five Percent for Nothing" This is Bruford's solo spot. It sits highly among the most trivial thirty-seven seconds of progressive rock music, and that's all I have to say about it.

"Long Distance Runaround" This is one of Yes's major breakthroughs on mainstream radio; it's short structure and catchy melody make it a prime candidate, and yet it clearly maintains the Yes sound. A guitar cadenza bridges this song with the next piece.

"Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)" This is Squire's solo spot. It has several bass guitars layered over one another, and the parenthetical title is repeated again and again as everything fades out.

"Mood for a Day" This is Howe's solo spot. Unlike all the other solo segments, only one instrument is used- a nylon-stringed guitar. This piece has a Spanish flamenco feel.

"Heart of the Sunrise" The album's closer is one that admittedly took some time for me to get into. The raucously discordant and partially chromatic introduction can be hard to enjoy at first. The song jumps from loud to quiet parts, and the styles vary from part to part. There are a lot of jazz and classical influences present. Like many of Yes's lyrics, their meaning is mellifluous; while they do literally refer to sunrises and being lost in the city, Anderson has claimed many things over the years about the song's meaning. For all its qualities, "Heart of the Sunrise" remains one of Yes's most popular songs among their longtime fans.

Review by lazland
4 stars The album that propelled Yes from being a band people liked to one that people loved, in their millions. This shows the lineup maturing into something special, although I can only give it four stars as it was great, but not perfect.

Roundabout is a constant staple of the Yes repertoire, and deservedly so. What makes it stand out for me is the way Chris Squire plays his bass guitar. As I said on my review of the previous LP, he is the only bass player who makes it sound like a lead guitar, and that is very much in evidence on this. Howe's acoustic playing is lovely, and you instantly know that a keyboard maestro has arrived in the form of Rick Wakeman, recruited from folky outfit The Strawbs, when you listen to the swirling sound he creates. However, I do not particularly rate Cans & Brahms, one of the five solo pieces by the band on the LP, as being much more than a throwaway track - it's certainly far too short to show off Wakeman's talents, and some of these solo pieces, for me, make this a four star LP rather than the perfect five.

However, that does not apply to We Have Heaven, Anderson's contribution. I love Jon's voice, and I always think of him as being someone whose voice flys, no soars, and this is particularly true on this track. Lovely.

South Side of the Sky is a rockier piece, with menacing keyboards and another thundrous bass line.

The next one, Five percent for nothing, was so named by Anderson of Bruford's contribution, and never was a name more apt, although it really upset the drummer at the time (and still does). Completely pointless, it does no justice to a fine drummer, although one who was always more jazzier than many of his contemporaries.

Long Distance Runaround is a good short piece, whose main purpose, to me, was always to lead into the finest solo track on the album, The Fish. If there is a finer example of bass playing, I would love to hear it - superb.

Mood for a Day is Howe's contribution, and has rightly become a classic. I far prefer this to The Clap as it is a more thoughtful piece of music.

The album closes with Heart of the Sunrise, one of my favourite tracks of all time.The opening Howe burst is followed by a quiet, almost dreamy vocal by Anderson accompanied by a strong bass line by Squire, the track bursts into life with almost manic playing by all concerned, then quietens again, and so on. Anderson hits the highest of high notes when he exalts Dream on, on to the Heart of the Sunrise followed by Howe's ascending burst and very menacing chords from all others. This is a very complex piece of music, which must have taken ages to perfect, but it ranks amongst their finest.

This should, really, be a perfect prog LP, but it is spoiled somewhat by traces of the self indulgence that would, in time, turn the band from world beating heroes to be cast, very unfairly in my opinion, as musical villains responsible almost solely for the onset of punk.

Highly recommended to those few of you that don't own it.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars My introductory album to Yes back in 1974. Three of the greatest prog songs ever devised, contrived, composed, performed are on this album: "Heart of the Sunrise" (my introduction to the greatest prog drummer ever), "Roundabout" (my introduction to the awesome power of both Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman), and "South Side of the Sky" (my first taking notice of the power of Jon Anderson's voice talents). So, how can it be anything less than Five stars? All the solo-shorts offer very interesting insights into the individuals that collaboratively make such amazing, groundbreaking music. Though I give the slight edge to Close to the Edge as Yes's top effort, this one rates an inch behind. The overall musicianship is such a notch above other bands of the era save, perhaps, Gentle Giant--and to know they can replicate it all live is simply astounding. One of the great albums for the ages.
Review by J-Man
3 stars How this album has such a high reputation is almost beyond me. It's a good album, but is far from the masterpiece it promises to be. This certainly isn't the best from the Yes catalogue, and I almost find this to sometimes be a disappointment. There are some great songs on here, but there is almost as much filler. This album contains the masterpiece "Heart of the Sunrise". Without that, I might actually give this album a two. The idea behind this album was to have some songs with the whole band and also have one song for each band member, highlighting their skill. It is a great idea, and I applaud Yes for doing something that hasn't really been done before. Sadly, the idea doesn't work out very well. Does "Cans and Brahms" really do Rick Wakeman any justice? Is "We Have Heaven" not simply filler? The answer is no to both of these questions, and there are a few other lousy songs here. Luckily, there are some great Symphonic Prog songs to save this album from being a collector item only.

This is stuck in between my two favorite Yes albums, and is also the first with Rick Wakeman. Luckily, later albums proved that Rick Wakeman was an excellent addition to the band, not the decent one he seems like here. This has a higher average rating than "The Yes Album" and I have no idea why. That album is a perfect masterpiece, and this is a good, not great, album.

The Music:

"Roundabout"- One of the classic Yes songs. The acoustic guitar opening turns into Chris Squire's pounding bassline with Anderson's great pair of vocal pipes. You can't call yourself a prog fan without knowing this song.

"Cans and Brahms"- This is the first solo song on the album, and what better way to start it then with Yes' newest member Rick Wakeman. This is his arrangement of some extracts from Brahms' 4th symphony. This certainly doesn't highlight Wakeman's true skill, and this is actually pretty boring.

"We Have Heaven"- Alright, the last song was borderline filler, but this is flat out filler with no good qualities whatsoever. This is simply Anderson with an acoustic guitar and many voice dubs. This is one that I always skip.

"South Side of the Sky"- So after two pretty lousy songs, we're due for a good song, right? Well, this certainly is an excellent song, and is one of my favorite Yes songs. This starts with an almost hard rock sound, but has an excellent grand piano section that progresses back into the beginning section. This is an awesome song, and it makes for a very good live song as well.

"Five Per Cent for Nothing"- This is Bill Bruford's solo spot. This is very complex, and this succeeds at what the other solo songs failed to do because this actually shows that Bill Bruford is an excellent drummer. This short 35-second song is very technically complex, but I can't help but say that isn't really a good song. It's not unlistenable (only 35 seconds), but it is certainly passable.

"Long Distance Runaround"- This is a one of the four songs with the entire band. This is a great shorter track from Yes, and is a very good song. It has an intense complex opening, but then goes into a Beatle-esque piano section. I particularly like the bass on this song.

"The Fish (Shindleria Praematurus)"- Speaking of bass, this song is a bass solo! The Fish is actually almost entirely bass, and is one of Chris Squire's classic moments. A very good song!

"Mood for A Day"- This is Steve Howe's acoustic guitar piece, and it is alright. I don't particularly love the melody or the song, but it is undeniable how good Steve Howe sounds on an acoustic guitar.

"Heart of the Sunrise"- This is the incredible 10 and a half minute song that boosts this album up an entire star. The only thing I can really say is just to give this one a listen. This is a classic Yes song that is absolutely essential listening. I wish the entire album would be like this.

Well, there you have it. This is on the fence between a three and a four. Trust me, this is worth a 3.49999, but I can't quite round it up to a four. This is a very good (if overrated) album, but by no means is this essential. "Heart of The Sunrise" and "South Side of the Sky" are absolutely essential, but the rest of the album is passable to decent at best. Moments of this are completely essential, but the album as a whole isn't. Listen to "Heart of the Sunrise" and then listen to "We Have Heaven" and you will know what I mean.

3.4/5- VERY good but non-essential

Review by friso
3 stars I've waited quite long before I wanted to write about this record. It needed some time to grow on me. I just couln't identify myself with the glorious reviews a read on PA. The production is one of its main problems for me. A bit more peace and silence would have done this storming record a lot of good. It's like everything is loud and fast, it's very intense. If you like intense prog music very much, you shouldn't be warned by this review, but I find a bit of overdone. Less would have been more, as often is the case with YES. The coverwork is perfect by the way!

The two songs of this album I like, and made it deserve three stars are South Side Of The Sky and Heart Of The Sunrise. Both are exellent progressive tracks with a lot of progressive element carefully used. The structures are good, composition very well done and the overall feel is fine. The main point here is that I get the feeling a band is playing TOGETHER on these two tracks.

The other (often shorter) songs however, are solo achievements of the bandmembers. This actually seemed to be the idea, as you can read in the inner sleeve of my copy. Though a nice try, the concept doens't work for me. The record became unbalanced. The quality of the musicians is there very clearly, but first 3 minutes of only keys, then a song of only vocal layers with some guitar is very uncalled for. Then again, the word to discribe it is intense.

I'm sorry but I can't give more then three stars for this very unbalenced record. I do recommend everyone to listen to South Side Of The Sky and Heart Of The Sunrise, both are exellent tracks.

Review by The Whistler
3 stars 3.5 come out of the sky

Fragile was really a big turning point for the ole Yes machine. More so than The Yes Album even; that exercise found the Yes Men approaching crazy symphonic suites, but they did not become the accepted definition of symphonic rock until this album. Some say that Wakeman’s synths are a huge difference; others are not so sure. I say they make a difference, and it ain’t necessarily a good one.

“Roundabout” kicks off the art-synth foolishness, and it’s good though. This is like progressive power pop, complete with fist pumping, anthemic, useless lyrics about mountains attacking hapless folks trying to “be there with” their respective loves. But ignore that; it never wastes a moment of its eight minutes, journeying from gentle acoustics to arena prog to funky art boogie. It’s PROBABLY the best thing on the album (certainly the biggest hit, wasn’t it?).

Now comes the evil. The evil is namely these little solo band member spots (everyone gets one), and they’re...a mixed bag. “Cans and Brahms,” Wakeman’s effort, is a laughable synthesizer experiment. Goofy keyboards play Brahms in a very dated manner that would make Keith Emerson blush. Don’t worry though; it’s the worst of the lot (it’s also short).

And then, for example, “We Have Heaven,” Jon’s solo bit, is maybe the best of the lot. A minute and a half of quasi-psychedelic, quasi-a cappella, folksy singing that is practically hymn-like; it’s still pretentious, but it’s also charming and innocent.

“South Side of the Sky” is pretty popular, I think, but I don’t quite see it. It’s about decent folks freezing in the arctic of some dreadful cold. I think it’s supposed to be angry, and it almost works (I like the “were we ever colder than that day?” chorus), but somehow when Yes try to get angry, they just get funkier. I blame Howe. Anyway, the song itself is okay, but I think I could live without the softer middle part.

“Five Per Cent for Nothing” is kinda pointless, but at thirty seconds, way too short to really irritate anyone. Besides, it’s kinda cute (it’s Bruford’s number, and oddly enough, it’s an avant-garde joke on elevator jazz (?)). Anyway, were it not for the opener, delicate art popper “Long Distance Runaround” would easily be my favorite song on the album. It’s certainly one of (if not the) most personal Yes songs to me; for once, I think I understand what Jon is talking about. No liver witches living on distant planets in disgrace, this is simply about someone who misses a loved one who is far away. I almost shed a tear there.

And it bleeds into “The Fish (Unintelligible Scribbling),” Squire’s bass related number. It’s cool to hear him dick around on the bass so many different ways like that, and the track is plenty groovy, but I think that it has more to do with clever producing than clever bass playing. And call me biased then, but as someone who was trained on classical guitar, I find Howe’s “Mood For a Day” more interesting. Alternatively Spanish and Baroque, it’s a nice piece of guitar instrumental (and no overdubs!). Very charming, atmospheric and entrancing (if not quite “Horizons’”).

And then we finish with “Heart of the Sunset,” the opening riff of which could not sound more like “21st Century Schizoid Man” if it had a saxophone in it. Oh well. Yes are pretty good at playing around with it either way. In fact, they think they’re so good, that they spend the first three minutes repeating that damn riff until you want to throttle the whole lot of ‘em. Then it gets kinda slow and quiet, building little by little, until it hits a glorious climax. And more of the riff. A good song, but seriously flawed. The quiet parts are too long, and the riff is played TOO DAMN MUCH. That would be the Close to the Edge attitude creeping up on us I suppose...

I still can’t but feel, however, that even if a slight letdown from The Yes Album, Fragile still beats out Close in terms catchiness and variety. This is, as I said, progressive power pop. Sometimes it’s a little better disguised (“Roundabout”), sometimes it’s worn on the shirtsleeves (“Long Distance”). As for variety, well, what do you think all those solo spots are for? Silly as they may be, they certainly stretch the legs on the album, proving that Yes are capable not only of making use of more musical styles than you thought, but are also capable of taking themselves a little less seriously than I would have expected.

Unfortunately, the album feels a little disjointed; a strangely enough, it’s not the all the shorter material’s fault. It’s mainly that stuff like “Heat of the Sunset” and “Sunny Side of the Sky” where the lads seem a little lost. As a result, the album feels a little scattered. Hell, the whole first side jumps back and forth between “what just happened” and “DEAR GOD, THE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!”

Additionally, I’m not a huge fan of the sound here; although they’d get symph-ier, this is the start of “We Are Yes. We Are a Symphonic Rock Band.” Which means that the naïve post- psychedelic organ folk of the last album is traded for something a little more “mature” sounding. Hey! I LIKED that old naïve sound. Still, underneath the synths and overlong runtimes, this is clearly the Yes of old. And, honestly, Yes goofing around with how to run an album is not a bad thing. I just wish that, when they nailed down the focus aspect, we hadn’t gotten something as stylistically narrow as Close the Ledge. But, hey, that’s just me talking. Fragile is definitely an important piece of Yes history, and is pretty much a requirement for anyone who’s a fan of the band.

(Note: the bonuses are all crap. The version of “America” here is longer, looser, and less interesting than the tight ‘n snappy version found on the Close to the Hedge remaster. Slightly better an early and live run through of “Roundabout,” in which you hear Yes make (gasp!) MISTAKES! Cute, and worth a listen, but melts like an Easter Bunny in an oven compared to the album version. Yes really need the full use of a studio to make all their magic happen. In short, a case of “you could, but why should you bother?” across the board. No change in rating.)

Review by TheGazzardian
4 stars The Yes Album was Steve Howe's thundering entrance to the band, and Fragile followed up with yet another classic member, Rick Wakeman, leaving Yes with their 'classic lineup' and giving them a near-perfect album.

Each member of the band was given a single track to show off their solo prowess, and they were not all good. Specifically, Cans and Brahms and Five Percent For Nothing were both particularly uninteresting pieces. Cans and Brahms apparently came to be because Rick Wakeman was unable to compose original material for the band, due to previous contractual obligations, and as Rick Wakeman has proven, he is capable of writing much better material than that in this track. Five Percent For Nothing is less than 30 seconds, and although it does interrupt the flow of the album ever so slightly, it is (almost) too short to notice.

The heart of the album are in the four band collaborations, although by this time, there is nothing I can say about these songs that has not already been said. So instead, I will describe the EXPERIENCE of this album, as it seems to me, and why this album is so great:

Starting with beautiful guitar and keyboard harmony, the album pulls you forward into energetic prog rock, and if you hit the skip button fast enough at the beginning of Cans and Brahms, it never loses that momentum as it moves into my favorite track of the album, South Side of the Sky. It continues to proceed through track after track, each sounding so sweet to the ears and bringing forth feelings of joy and excitement. The band is in excellent shape here; from the glorious guitar of Steve Howe to the mystical vocals of Jon Anderson (consider how soulful he sounds in Heart of the Sunrise, or how ethereal in We Have Heaven); to Chris Squire's classic bass and Bill Bruford's skillful drumming (The bass/drum part in Heart of the Sunrise is particularly fantastic). This is held together and supplemented by Wakeman; although his work on future albums would be more pronounced and important, he has some excellent parts here as well. Somehow, these five bring all their beautiful sounds together in a way that is impossible to break into the sub parts, for it is the meshing of these elements that makes the music so good.

If it hadn't been for the two weaker of the solo tracks, this would be a 5 star album, but I must acknowledge it's weakness and knock a star off. However, as far as 4 star albums go, this one is among the best.

Review by Negoba
5 stars Enter Prog Here

Fragile is perhaps the most common entry point into classic prog rock. The massive success of the single "Roundabout" and to a lesser degree "Long Distance Runaround" represent some of the few examples of true prog hits. Yet these doors open fans to an album that contains a monster epic, some challenging prog, and some requisite noodling. The album represents the genre in totality superbly, with its weak moments being brief and actually enjoyable in context, and the high points being truly spectacular.

As most fans know, this album includes four band pieces and five solo spots. I'd like to begin with the solo pieces, which are a source of more groans and curmudgeonry than about any part of a major album other than "More Fool Me." As I mentioned on the SEBtP review, I do not mind when there are points of relaxation on an album. While certainly not the meat of the record, these pieces allow us a glimpse into the experimentation or personal tastes of the band members. Bruford's solo piece seems as a precursor to the opening of CTTE. Steve Howe's nylon string solo "Mood for a Day" has been a treat dear to the hearts of guitarists even beyond the Yes fanboys. Squire and Anderson's bits are transition pieces that really neither hurt nor tremendously help the album. Rick Wakeman's "Cans and Brahms" is the goat of this album, derided much like the early Phil Collins vocal piece. And again, I think the criticism is overdone. The piece is an attempt to mix classical with some rock sensibility, exactly as Howe did with his piece. Admittedly, it doesn't work as well, but it's also listenable enough and not nearly as over-wrought as many Keith Emerson's similar attempts.

Of the remaining pieces, "Roundabout" requires no comments. Other than it does everything it is asked to do. "Long Distance Runaround" is a special piece for me, as it was one of the first intricate pieces I learned on guitar. Artistically wound rather than speedy, I could pull that piece out and impress just as much as the many who would show off with "Eruption." One of my early forays into prog that I enjoy to this day. "South Side of the Sky" is a piece that I didn't full appreciate until recently. It is easy to somehow think of Yes as lighter or immersed in an aloof hippy sunshine, but piece like "South Side" show just how much range they had. Though what set them apart was their ability to make complex music of true beauty, they still were able to create dark soundscapes as well. Finally, I place "Heart of the Sunrise" behind only CTTE among Yes' best epics. Ranging from the frenetic dark bass intro to intertwining complex time lines to pure beauty, this piece has everything I love about Yes. Besides CTTE, nowhere else does an epic succeed so completely from start to finish.

Flawed masterpiece? "Easy" version of Yes? Too pop? Too indulgent?

I don't think so. It's not perfect top to bottom, but neither are many of the best prog albums. The high points really are so good, and the album so important, that to call it anything other than a masterpiece seems a crime.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars First album with Rick Wakeman - for good and bad. He bring some his great keyboards passages and bombastic symphonic chamber feeling at the same time. Album's opener Roundabout is great,but heavily overplayed composition, which if fact made all the album almost additional material to feel the space.

I always have mixed feeling to this release - some very good moments, and some below average (I am speaking about high Yes average) standard. Possibly it sounds strange, but The Fish is most interesting composition on this album for me.

In all some really great musicianship and excellent pieces, but doesn't really work as whole album. Collection of good and far not so good in one package.

Still really great musicianship, so my rating is 3.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With Fragile the classic line up of Yes took off. You know the lot, Anderson, Howe, Squire, Bruford and newbie and most over-rated musician of all times Rick Wakeman (just trying to upset you really:). Let's also not forget Roger Dean whose defining artwork graces this record. That man is one of the reasons why one keeps holding on to his vinyl! This line up would last for just 2 studio albums that would turn out to be the most relevant for Yes.

My main cause for Yes enjoyment is the exceptional trio of Bruford, Squire and Anderson. Bruford for his sophisticated rhythms and focused virtuosity, Squire for his power (and determining influence on Geddy Lee), and Anderson for his rich vocal lines and stunning voice. The often overstated style of Wakeman is still under control here and so is the nervy string attack of Howe.

As each individual member was given his moment in the spotlight, the album has a number of short ditties that don't exactly make up for a coherent listening experience. On the other hand it brings some diversity and adds a playful twist to this album that is usually absent from Yes's weightiness. With Roundabout, South Side and Heart of the Sunrise, the album will easily float to the top of anyone's list of prog favourites. Only Squire's tuneless la la lala's in South Side spoil the experience somehow. Heart of the Sunrise is an extremely powerful piece. If only 5 minutes could survive from the entire rock scene from the 70's, it might as well be the first 5 of this track for me.

I think all the shorter tracks are quite pleasant, but Long Distance / The Fish and Mood for a Day are sure the most noteworthy. My CD-issue doesn't have the America bonus, but judging from what I've heard, it's quite dreadful. The absence from my CD gives more cause for celebration then a reason to buy this record for a third time.

I'd rate this slightly below CTTE and The Yes Album, but it's a sure classic, essential for Yes fans and excellent for people with less neurotic tastes. (Now I've sure upset you :)

Review by The Sleepwalker
5 stars Yes's 1971 release, Fragile, saw the band change their line-up. After Steve Howe joining the band and having a huge effect on the band's distinctive sound, now also keyboardist Rick Wakeman joined. Also, visual artist Roger Dean would start making the artwork for Yes's albums, which I think adds an extra dimension to the mood of Yes's music. This line-up would release two of Yes's highest regarded albums, Fragile and Close To The Edge. In my opinion Fragile is the superior of the two.

The album features some of Yes's absolute best pieces of music, as well as several solo compositions by each of the members of the band. Rick Wakeman is responsible for "Cans And Brahms", a piece that translates excerpts of Brahms' 4th Symphony into a piano and organ driven piece. Jon Anderson is responsible for the experimental "We Have Heaven", which is a composition driven by several vocal tracks, repeating several lines. "Five Percent For Nothing" is an experimental piece composed by Bill Bruford, which might make someone understand why he decided to move to King Crimson after Close To the Edge. The piece is pretty avant-garde, and though being pretty good I don't think it fits in with the rest of the music that well. Chris Squire's "The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)" is my favorite of the solo compositions. It starts with soothing harmonics, and as it progresses it will take the listener to variated sounds of Chris Squire's bass. In this piece he clearly shows what an innovative bass player he is. Howe's "Mood For A Day" is a nice flamenco piece, which demonstrates Howe's excellent guitar playing.

There are four band compositions and all of them are fantastic. "Roundabout" is one of Yes's best known songs. The formula of it's succes is very clear, as the song sounds groovy, catchy, powerful and very uplifting. This is among the best pieces Yes has ever made and it opens Fragile fantastic. "South Side Of The Sky" is even better and is perhaps my favorite song by Yes. It's pretty straight forward, despite it's length. The verses are very powerful, featuring a very thick bass and striking guitar playing by Steve Howe. The middle section features great piano playing and vocal harmonies. Very sudden the powerful verses return again near the end of the song, and Steve Howe closes the song with a guitar solo that slowly fades out. "Long Distance Runaround" is a catchy and jazzy piece. It features some excellent music and a lovely jazzy riff. The album closes with the excellent "Heart of The Sunrise", that starts out with a killer riff. Chris Squire's bass playing is astounding here, and Rick Wakeman plays the mellotron very fine. The intro drags on a bit though, which is the only negative thing I have to say about it. After three minutes the song turns into a more emotional piece. It features some haunting vocal melodies here and I can't find any negative things to say about it. The song closes the album with a brief reprise of "We Have Heaven".

Fragile is an excellent album. It features many of Yes's best pieces and shows the creativity of each of the band members. The album is an absolute masterpiece in my opinion, and therefore I rate it with 5 stars.

Review by progrules
4 stars This is actually the Yes album I'm least familiar with, at least where their masterpieces are concerned. There are two reasons for that. First is that the three most important songs of this album (Roundabout, South Side of the Sky and Heart of the Sunrise) were no secrets for me anymore so I had no curiosity that had to be satisfied here. And the other reason is that I already had the Yes Classics in my collection and first and third of the mentioned songs are to be found on that compilation so that means that I would buy this album just for the second long song and the short songs on Fragile. I never really bothered about those so I never acquired this album.

But now that I've gathered these shorter songs from different sources I'm finally able to review this album. How about it ? Well, of course it's at least very good, the three longer songs are huge classics although in all honesty I have to say I'm completely through with Roundabout. It's their biggest hit in early 70's but because of that and also because the song has been played most on the radio and I know it for over 35 years now I'm afraid I'm done with it. The song hasn't really proved to be tenable to me. I almost can't stand to hear it by now, it's become a bit tedious to be honest.

How about the other two ? South Side of the Sky is much more tenable and simply a better song and composition in my opinion. It's less accessible and due to that less likely to get boring after many listenings. I think it's a typical 4 star song to me. Excellent but not quite of the same masterpiece status as their huge epics. And actually same thing goes for Heart of the Sunrise as far as I'm concerned. Maybe even slightly better. This one never gets boring and is probably in my Yes top 5 songs of all time. Near masterpiece that is. Let's say 4,5*.

The shorter songs are not too exciting I'm afraid. Mood for a Day is a nice acoustic guitar track by Howe on his own. Long Distance Run Around is pretty famous for such a short track and always enjoyable. The Fish is a bit monotonous with also here Howe in leading position this time accompanied by the band. The other three are more like nice intermezzo's but can hardly be masterpieces with such short length. But these short songs almost ruin the high rating for Fragile. After all it's in the end just two out of nine that are truly excellent to me so I could be tempted to give three stars. But that would almost be disrespectful and not really justified either I feel so I will give four but rounded up.

Review by thehallway
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...)

Review by seventhsojourn
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Was the new Yes line-up short of material for Fragile (1971)? Only 4 of the 9 tracks involve the entire band and the album is fleshed-out with short solo pieces. Whatever the reason for their inclusion, I feel that these tracks interrupt the momentum of the album. This is a real shame as Fragile includes 3 absolute killer Yes songs, but they're watered down by those solo pieces. I'll excuse Steve Howe's MOOD FOR A DAY from this criticism, as it's a lovely piece and is far superior to his previous acoustic showcase on The Yes Album.

With the arrival of Rick Wakeman, shanghaied from The Strawbs, the Yes jigsaw seemed complete. However this line-up of the band only survived for two albums, as the tables were turned on Yes with Bill Bruford's departure to King Crimson in 1972. As well as Wakeman's mercurial solo on ROUNDABOUT, and his piano interludes on SOUTH SIDE OF THE SKY and HEART OF THE SUNRISE, he also brought Mellotron to the Yes table. Good man! His use of the instrument is quite restrained on Fragile, but what there is of it is really rather good.

Overall, Fragile strikes me as being quite a strange album with its mixture of lengthy epics and pointless solo pieces. Without the latter it could have been a classic. Close, but no cigar... a generous 4 stars.

Review by tarkus1980
5 stars Mr. Rick Wakeman, known as the best session keyboardist in England and who had been recently proclaimed as "Music's Next Superstar," came onboard and shot Yes' credibility through the roof. Although he is usually kept a little deep in the mix, the few times when he is turned loose show that Yes now had a powerful trump card in their hands. Not only did he have about a million times more skill than Kaye, he also had a much larger assortment of toys to play with (Kaye used a total of three keyboards, whereas Wakeman would use up to a dozen implements at once; Mellotrons, pianos, organs, synths, harpsichords, you name it), and Yes could now add sounds and ambience that Anderson could only dream about before.

The one negative thing about Wakeman having so much stuff, though, was that Yes had to get an album out as fast as possible to cover the costs for all of it, and so there are only 4 regular group pieces on this album. But Yes, being the smart men that they were, used this to their advantage. It was decided that now was the time for each of the members to get to showcase their individual skills, and so this album has 5 additional solo tracks, one for each member. Now, interestingly enough, there are people for whom these solo pieces are actually a negative - many claim that because of them, this album is terribly disjointed and has virtually no flow. The thing is, I take the exact opposite viewpoint - continuing in the vein of The Yes Album, placing a shorter track in the middle of two other epics on each side, these solo numbers allow the listener to catch his breath so that he might better be able to appreciate the more complex numbers. Besides, this was a common trick among a number of prog groups - a large reason that Peter Gabriel's Genesis was and is so enjoyable is that for every "Return of the Giant Hogweed" or "Firth of Fifth," you get a relatively lightweight number like "Harold the Barrel" or "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)." Heck, even ELP, the supposedly pretentious-beyond-all-measure group (though certainly no more so than Yes, and possibly several degrees lower), regularly stuck numbers like "Benny the Bouncer" or "Are You Ready Eddy?" on their albums (heck, they even put out an entire album of 'funny' and 'lightweight' tracks - a good one at that). In other words, this is not unheard of.

But back to the pieces themselves. Bruford, who was more interested in being one of the greatest drummers of all time (his percussion on this album is amazing), didn't really take it seriously, merely writing a 35 second blurch of noise (well, it's actually a 16 bar piece repeated once, but whatever) but the rest of the contributions rule. Wakeman plays a short Brahms excerpt on his keyboards, Anderson spends a minute and a half harmonizing with himself in the gorgeous "We Have Heaven," and Howe gives us his sequel to "Clap" in "Mood For a Day." And Squire's piece ... well, I'll mention that later.

But even without the solo pieces, this album is wonderful on lots of levels. First of all, the songwriting has actually improved from The Yes Album, as hard as that might be to believe. Also, the band added an edge and crispness to its sound that had been slightly lacking on TYA simply by allowing the compositions to take on darker, less bouncy characteristics. As a result, the four group compositions on the album are incredible beyond words (even though many fans don't give them much credit due to the fact that they aren't 20 minutes long). "Roundabout" may have received more airplay than any other Yes song through the years, but face it, it really deserves it. Never before and never again would Yes come up with such a PERFECT combination of pop accessibility, hard rock bass riffs and experimental song structure as they did on this track. If the bass riff doesn't grab you, then the vocal melody will, and that's a fact. And the song has all sorts of neat keyboard tricks within, from the backwards piano chord that opens it to Wakeman's first fancy solo with the group to all sorts of neat key riffs.

Even better, though, is the "lost favorite," "South Side of the Sky." For whatever reason, the band never (with VERY few exceptions, until 2002 that is) made this track a part of its stage set, and as such the song gained a sort of mythical quality with fans. Never mind that, though - even if it were as heavily played as "Roundabout," I think people would still adore this song. The lyrics are some of the darkest that Anderson would ever pen (they're about freezing to death), and the music matches oh so well. The main riff (apparently stolen from a Howe composition with a previous band) is menacing as hell, the vocal melody RULES, and Wakeman gets an extended piano solo in the middle that positively MAKES the song, whilst the band members contribute some eerie harmonies here and there. Of course, I've been told that Kaye wrote many parts of the album, including this solo, but even if that is true, I still kinda doubt that he could have played them, at least not with this kind of flair. But I digress - one mustn't also forget the incredible way the song begins, with a door SLAMMING on Anderson's joyous harmonies while somebody runs away before the howling wind comes up.

The side-two group numbers don't fall short of the standard, fortunately. "Long Distance Runaround" is the last "pop" song that the band would do for several years, but even though it shows no indication of where Yes was headed, it rules nonetheless. The vocal melody is as catchy as the one on "Roundabout," the musical themes are compact yet complex, and the instrumental deconstruction is intense as hell, with Squire providing a textbook demonstration on how to hammer-on (at least, that's what my brother the bass player once told me).

Concluding the album, then, is the immortal classic "Heart of the Sunrise." The three- minute introduction can best be described as a musical duel between a bass and an organ, with Steve's guitar helping the cause at times and Bruford building the tension exquisitely with his drums. The main riff isn't particularly complex, of course, and it does bear more than a slight resemblence to the "Mirrors" chunk of "21st Century Schizoid Man," but whatever. For all its 'simplicity', it sucks me in like mad, and that's all I really need. Of course, there's more to the song than just the intro - the main melody doesn't have too much to do with the introduction (except in the rare cases where reprises from it pop up in the song), but that hardly makes it any worse. Anderson's lyrics are as weird as usual (apparently they're about soul travel), but somehow he manages to sing them with a passion (yes, PASSION) that only he could muster up for such an odd subject, not to mention that the vocal melodies are pretty as ever. And how can one forget the ending, where the duel ends in a stalemate, only to have Anderson's "We Have Heaven" vocals pop back in and become the victors by default??

You must buy this album as soon as you have 13 bucks lying around. You see, even if somebody isn't a fan of prog rock (which I guess doesn't apply on this site), this album is essential if you like the bass guitar. Seriously, this album can make a legitimate claim to being the greatest bass guitar album of all time (well, if you discount anything with the least amount of funk, that is), right up there with Led Zeppelin II and Quadrophenia (well, those are my favorites, anyway). In addition to Squire practically owning "Roundabout," "Long Distance Runaround," and "Heart of the Sunrise," there is also his bass solo, coming out the ending of "LDR." Now, on the surface, "The Fish" might not seem all together impressive - after all, it's just six layers of bass guitar, who cares? Well, you should care; it's not everyday that one finds a piece with layer upon layer of bass parts (which are plenty interesting and complex on their own) added in such a way that the number actually seems like a real song, not just "fun in the studio." In my mind and the minds of most, it positively rules. Just like this album. Prog rock that rocks; who else would have thunk of that?

Review by Flucktrot
4 stars "Play Roundabout!"

That's something I heard at a Steve Howe show. There may be an idiot in every crowd, but this album is what really sticks with most classic rock fans (idiots and non-idiots alike), for whatever reason (although All Good People and some others have cracked the classic rock radiowaves frequently enough).

Of course, I can rock out to Roundabout as hard as anyone (Squires bass during the verse and Rick's organ solo at the end are some of my top 50 highlights in all of rock), but Fragile is very solid throughout (as I suspect we all know quite well). There is something to appreciate about every song (except Five Percent of Nothing--that one doesn't count), from the delicate beauty of Mood, to the bombastic/minimalist contrast of Heart of the Sunrise, to the bass bonanza in Schindleria. One of my pleasant surprises was the extended America, which is my preferred version, and would be to all the rest of us to love to hear Yes rock out non-prog style once in a while. Great guitar/bass/key interplay in the middle!

Fragile was my first CD, and it sounds even better to my ears now than it did way back then. I will fall short of calling this a masterpiece, but I would certainly consider it essential for any prog collection.

Review by stefro
5 stars The first Yes album to feature the iconic artwork of a certain Roger Dean, 'Fragile' would be the album that sky-rocketed Yes into the stratosphere of super-stardom. Key to the album's success was the addition of ex-Strawbs member Rick Wakeman on keyboards, replacing the outgoing Tony Kaye, and the fact that 'Fragile' featured the superb lead-track 'Roundabout', one of the group's best-known and best-loved compositions and a staple of FM rock radio ever since. With Wakeman on board the classic Yes line-up was in place and 'Fragile' would herald the start of Yes' golden era, the group selling millions of records across the globe and staging hundreds of sell-out gigs throughout Europe and America. Some argue that 'The Yes Album' marked their high-point and, excellent though that album was, 'Fragile' just seemed to have that special edge that comes with a very-talanted group performing at their peak. A look at the track-listing reveals a glut of great tracks, including 'Roundabout', 'South Side Of The Sky', 'Heart Of The Sunrise' and 'Long Distance Runaround', all of which have become fixtures in the group's live shows for the last four decades. So, four albums into the burgeoning career and it seemed as if Yes had created the masterpiece they had threatened; incredibly, however, within a year they would have bettered 'Fragile' and booked their place at the head of the progressive rock table of legends, demonstrating just how dynamic the interplay was between these five, relatively youthful musicians. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
Review by Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Fragile' - Yes (90/100)

A crescendo draws steadily out of my set of speakers. As I prepare for a rocking riff to open up the album, the crescendo deceptively leads to an unassuming open acoustic harmonic. Steve Howe's guitarwork is light and almost certainly classically influenced; the acoustic motif is mysterious, and as it's played again, the listener is begged to wonder where the band is planning on ultimately going with it. But, before you know it, the acoustic guitar has picked up the pace and ushers in a tight rhythm from Bruford and one of the most immortal grooves Chris Squire ever dictated with the bass guitar. Such is the way Yes open up their classic fourth album Fragile and their perennial fan favourite "Roundabout". The song itself is probably the greatest piece of radio coverage the progressive rock genre ever received, and still rightly stands as one of the best pieces from the band's catalogue. As an album, Fragile has sometimes irked me for its focus on short instrumental cuts and apparent interlude tracks, but when taken as a whole, the album is arguably the most well-rounded and agreeably paced of the band's career. I could still point the finger at any of the three albums Yes would release following this as the best of their career, but Fragile marks the band's destined ascent into the realm of mastery. If there was any question left as to their greatness after The Yes Album, Fragile finally set all doubts to rest.

Even having been a fan of the band and album for years now, the fact that Fragile's flow works so well remains a mystery to me. Of the album's nine tracks, only four of them might be considered self-standing songs, and only three of those (excluding "Long Distance Runaround") feel like well-rounded prog tunes. Especially when you stop to compare it to the three and four 'epic' track arrangements of Yes' three following records, Fragile is a peculiar distinction amongst the band's oeuvre. Although "Roundabout" and "Heart of the Sunrise" both count as two of Yes' strongest compositions, Fragile demands to be heard from start to finish as a whole, even moreso than other albums in progressive rock. My first impression to consider the shorter pieces as interludes was sorely mistaken in any case; they may be short, but each track makes a clear statement of its own. Somewhat in the vein of what Pink Floyd did with "Ummagumma" (albeit far more successfully), Fragile features a piece built specifically around each musician. The Wakeman-orchestrated "Cans and Brahms" is a fine nod to Western classical tradition. "We Have Heaven" is a soaring ode to Jon Anderson's vocal beauty, as well as his signature psychedelic optimism. "Five Per Cent for Nothing" is a sporadic, Bruford-led exercise in rhythm, "The Fish" showcases Chris Squire's skill with bass grooves, and "Mood for a Day" is a pleasant acoustic piece from Steve Howe. None of these five shorter pieces would be entirely fitting for individual consumption, but as a whole, they flow together seamlessly.

There's no question, however, that the true meat of Fragile rests at the heart of the longer compositions. Even if "Roundabout" enjoys its share of the FM waves, it's a remarkably sophisticated piece that's as close to perfection as you're bound to hear in prog. At eight and a half minutes long, it rivals the ambitious scope of a progressive epic but retains the tightness and instantly memorable factor of a pop tune- I can't recall another song in the genre that manages to achieve both simultaneously. If the album had a darkest moment, "South Side of the Sky" would be it; even if it retains Yes' trademark bounce and ethereal atmosphere, it's a more reserved counterpoint to "Roundabout" and a solid way to round off Fragile's mid-section. "Long Distance Runaround" is concisely written and pleasantly written; if not much else, it's got some fine vocals from Anderson and an interesting guitar hook. Even so, the album's most pop-oriented tune feels downright underwhelming compared to the three longer tracks, and even a couple of the more ambitious interludes.

Now, if I've sung so highly the praises of "Roundabout", let it be known that Fragile reaches even greater heights with "Heart of the Sunrise". Bringing together Yes' atmospheric beauty and burstfire tightness under the banner of a single track, it's one of the most incredible songs Yes ever crafted in their career. Tight instrumentation (particularly from Howe and Wakeman) and a haunting climax are among the qualities that make it one of the band's greatest ever works. Closing off the album with a brief reprise of "We Have Heaven" was a nice touch as well.

Fragile marked the first album with Rick Wakeman onboard, and while many fans will attest that they hit their mark with The Yes Album, I'll stand by this record as the moment where Yes finally unlocked their own slice of heaven. It can be too easy to get complacent as a listener when getting into a classic like this; after all, the verdict's already been made up, they're albums we're supposed to find depth and inspiration in. Listening to Fragile over four decades since its release however, and I'm still finding myself taken aback by the creativity and sophistication Yes brought to the table with this one. Surprisingly enough, Yes would ascend to an even higher plane of ambition with Close to the Edge and Tales from Topographic Oceans. Even if Fragile doesn't represent the artistic pinnacle for Yes as an act, it retains the distinctive quality of a classic album, with a unique personality the band sadly never sought to explore further.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
5 stars Fragile is the second act of a trilogy of masterpieces that started with The Yes Album and is comnpleted by Close to th Edge. The Yes Album is a collection of songs, sometimes long but without the characteristics of an epic, Close to the Edge has the full-side omonimous epic, and two long tracks on side B. Fragile is exactly in the middle and can be considered the trait-d'union between the two.

The opener is great. Roundabout is not an epic only because of its length, but is one of the best songs ever written by the yes. The acoustic guitar intro, the background keyboards, the great bass line all supported by one of the best drummers in the world. Even those who dislike Jon Anderson's voice have to recognize that no other singer can be imagined on this song. This tracks alone can be used to define the YES music.

Cans and Brahms is one of the short interludes dedicated to the instrumentist. When double albums with one side per group member was a mood (Ummagumma and Works just to mention a couple) the YES indulged to their individual skills allowing just few minutes. This one is for Wakeman. The following "We Have Heaven" is for Anderson.

The ensemble is back with "South Side of The Sky" that's another classic on which Squire leads. Looking retrospectively to "Fish out of Water" it appears to be mainly a Squire thing until the keyboard and piano solos that are of course typical Wakeman's stuff. As in many Yes songs, I'm unable to say what the signatures on this song are....

"Five Percent for Nothing" is the Squire's interlude, then comes a "short classic": "Long Distance Runaround" it's a classic, even if the live version of Yessongs is in my opinion far better than this studio one.

"The Fish" is another ensemble song even if it's totally dominated by the bass. But we all know who the Fish is...

The most famous short interlude of the yes history: a track that almost all the guitar practicers have tried to play with more or less success is "Mood for a Day". This track can explain why Steve Howe and Steve Hackett have tried (later) to give birth to a band. Unfortunately that band had rubbish results, but this is just to say that "Mood fro a day" could make the pair with some Steve Hackett's classical or acoustic guitar works like "A Cradle of Swans" as example.

The album is closed by another classic masterpiece. I think that "Heart of a Sunrise" has been played on almost all the Yes tours during the years. After the initial riff, the long intro of Bass and keyboards to which Howe's guitar comes from the background. Then the initial riff again. Squire and Bruford at their best with Wakeman and Howe in the background. It takes 3:30 minutes before Jon Anderson starts singing on a low-volume keyboard background. I can't find any pasage that can be considered trivial. This is what, I think, makes difficult for many people approaching the old Yes albums: the listener's expectations are never satisfied and you can really enjoy this music only after a number of listens, when you know what is about to come.

As for The yes Album, I can't rate it less than the maximum.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The first album from this short-lived lineup was, in my opinion, also their best. Controversy aside, it's just one of those Yes-releases that truly speaks to me and I can pretty much enjoy it on any given day!

First off, let me clear up the distinction between Fragile and The Yes Album. I did state in my previous review that it had a few filler tracks and a generally unbalanced mix of material. This might also seem to be the case here, but I would argue that it's not! The five short pieces that are performed in-between the four longer pieces are here for the clear reason of introducing the distinct talents of the individual band members. Cans And Brahms gives us pretty much all we need to know about Rick Wakeman, We Have Heaven is beautifully arranged vocal-driven track by Jon Anderson, Five Per Cent For Nothing shows clear Jazz tendencies from Bill Bruford, The Fish introduces us to the unique sound of Chris Squire's bass and Mood For A Day is probably the best acoustic composition that Steve Howe has ever written.

I might raise a few eyebrows when I say that I'm actually not that crazy about Roundabout. It's a good composition with a catchy riff and a memorable acoustic intro/outro from Steve Howe, but it just never manages to grab me as much as some of the material later on the album. South Side Of The Sky is the first clear followup to Starship Trooper and Perpetual Change. This is easily my favorite track off Fragile, but both Long Distance Runaround and Heart Of The Sunrise aren't that far behind! The latter is one of Yes' most recognizable anthems with Rick Wakeman's Mellotron-performance leading the way for the rest of the collective.

Fragile is a wonderful album that should be a part of every progressive rock music collection just for the cheer enthusiasm that each of the band members bring to the table here. It's a well-deserved classic that only gets better with each passing year.

***** star songs: South Side Of The Sky (8:04) Heart Of The Sunrise (10:34) Mood For A Day (3:57)

**** star songs: Roundabout (8:29) Cans And Brahms (1:35) We Have Heaven (1:30) Five Percent For Nothing (0:35) Long Distance Runaround (3:33) The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus) (2:35)

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars For the record before this one, Yes dropped their guitarist, Peter Banks, and replaced him with Steve Howe. On that album, they discovered their signature sound. On this album, after replacing keyboardist Tony Kaye with Rick Wakeman, they perfevted that sound.

The album is a bit self indulgent, with each band member getting what amounts to a solo track. But of those solo tracks, only Wakeman's (only slightly) diminishes the album. All of the full band tracks are fantastic pieces, becoming concert favorites for the next four decades.

The album opener, Roundabout, was the bands biggest hit of the seventies, showing how different the radio and major label record industries were at the time. South Side Of The Sky and Heart Of The Sunrise are also great pieces, that rival any symphonic prog created since.

Also of note, this was one of my first prog album purchases (I had many singles before that). So I have Yes to thank for my obsession with great music.

Review by baz91
5 stars This is one messed up album. Released in 1971, it has my favourite Yes line-up of Anderson / Bruford / Howe / Squire / Wakeman, and was the first Yes album to feature the latter, who had come fresh from The Strawbs. Fragile was an album that showed Yes increasing in creativity to prog rock perfection, a trend that had started with 'The Yes Album'. The album itself has 2 different parts to it; there are 4 songs which are arranged and performed by the band, and the other 5 are songs that are solo works, to highlight each member of the band. I have to say, I've never particularly enjoyed any of these solo songs, and I feel that they give the album a rather muddled feel. The fact that on the album itself, it describes how each of these pieces are solo songs, makes it easier to accept them, and possibly pretend they aren't there. I just feel that solo works have no place on an album by a band (the same is true of 'Clap' on The Yes Album, or 'Horizons' from Foxtrot). Anyway, I shall briefly review these solo spots first.

-Cans and Brahms- Yuck. This is Wakeman's spot, where he plays a classical piece (by, you guessed it, Brahms) that is not famous enough to be recognised by most people who have a limited knowledge of classical music. The liner notes go into detail about how he plays a different keyboard sound for each part of the orchestra. This is not a Yes song in any way, thank goodness its only 1:43. -We Have Heaven- A definite WTF moment! Fortunately this song is far more listenable than the preceding song. This song is Anderson's spot, where he recorded his voice many times to give the song an a cappella feel. You will definitely be interested when you first hear this, but since it doesn't really go anywhere, I think this song loses all its appeal quickly. I do like the door slamming at the end, imagining someone saying 'STFU Jon!' whilst doing so. (If anyone can tell me what the footsteps at the end signify I'd be grateful!) -Five Per Cent For Nothing- At 0:38, Bruford's solo spot hardly feels like music. This song sounds not only difficult to play, but completely unlistenable at the same time, which makes you wonder why they bothered! -The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)- Ahh this is more like it. Squire's bass spot is the best in my opinion. This song segues from the end of Long Distance Runaround and as a result I usually listen to both at the same time. This song gives 'LDR' a natural ending. It is quite minimalistic, with the 7/8 riff being repeated constantly throughout, and slowly more and more layers of bass guitar are put on top very subtly. With Bill and Jon appearing as well, this is easily the best out of the solo tracks. -Mood For A Day- Finally we reach Howe's spot. On the one hand I do really like how this song has a really good flow to it. Steve Howe is undoubtedly a fine guitarist, and he plays the acoustic guitar expertly. HOWEver (geddit?) just like Clap or Horizons, this is a completely solo outing which has no use on a band record. I feel that sections like this work much better when they are included in a longer peice, eg the guitar solo in 'The Ancient'.

With that lot out the way, we can now focus on the bare bones of the album, and what simply makes it so great.

-Roundabout- This song epitomises the word 'classic'. I would go as far as to say it's the best known song amongst fans of prog. It's amazing that they managed to turn this eight and a half minute masterpeice into a hit single! Starting with some guitar wizardry, the song quickly launches into a really catchy verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure that stays progressive with quick keyboard inserts from Wakeman. After the haunting bridge, the song seems to begin again before launching into a fantastic triumphant intrumental which is essentially a guitar-keyboard duel! Another verse and chorus are played before ending with an a cappella part by from the band (a sign of things to come). One of the most classic prog songs around, this is a song with a really special place in my heart.

-South Side of the Sky- Starting in true prog fashion with a wind sound effect, the amazing drum fill leads into a very interesting song indeed. There are 3 rather short verses and choruses before the band suddenly stop and give way to Wakeman taking us to a completely different place indeed: a place where a cappella reigns supreme and relaxing melodies intertwine with complex drumming. After this very welcome musical digression, the band gets back on track and returns to the original song, with seemingly more energy. Howe's guitar solo leads us to fade back into the wind effect we heard at the beginning. A truly underrated song.

-Long Distance Runaround- Out of Yes's shorter early songs, I believe this is probably my favourite. Indeed it is very simple, but it is also very charming in it's own way. Without a doubt there is some sort of polyrhythm occuring in the verse and possibly the instrumental but I can't work it out. It segues into 'The Fish' which stops the experience from being too short. -Heart Of The Sunrise- Besides hearing 'Owner of a Lonely Heart' on 80s compilations or elsewhere, this song was in fact the first proper Yes song I ever heard, and consequently part of the reason I got into 70s prog in the first place! If you needed a single song to accurately sum up all that prog is about, I'd make it this one. From the 10+ mins length to the wacky 3 minute instrumental at the beginning, to the strange cosmic lyrics, to the amazing orchestration in general, in my mind this is a song that set the standard in terms of prog. The first 3 and a half minutes are truly amazing, with extremely fast playing interrupted by a 2 minute long bass solo near the beginning. Afterwards, the song goes very quiet indeed, and Jon's angelic voice comes shyly into play. The rest of the band slowly filter in around him and the dynamics of all the instruments are simply perfect as they get subtly louder as the song goes on! Another mindblowing instrumental follows with a brief vocal section thrown in for good measure. After all this is done Jon comes back, not shyly but now in full force, singing his lungs out! The song ends with a triumphant feel, and the main riff leads us to a stunning conclusion to an amazing song! Unfortunately the mood is slightly ruined when the door you hoped was closed for good at the end of We Have Heaven, is once again opened and the comical sound of Jon's a cappella with himself fades you out of this otherwise stunning album. If you can separate 'Sunrise' from this hidden track, then I recommend doing so, since it leaves you with a bitter taste. All things aside though, Heart of the Sunrise is possibly my favourite prog track ever, and extremely required listening!

As you can see, the choice to include solo spots on this album weakens it by a considerable amount, but once you get over the fact that they aren't proper Yes songs, you can listen to the album without being bothered by them, and you can pretend they aren't there. After all the quality of the 4 non solo tracks is enough to make up for anything else on the album. You really owe it to yourself to get Fragile because it does not only contain some of the most important and essential progressive rock that has ever been produced by a band, but the quality of musicianship throughout the important songs is through the roof. 5 stars all the way.

Review by colorofmoney91
4 stars Fragile by Yes is one of the most popular progressive rock albums ever, and stands out for being wildly accessible while also being very progressive and all in all a good album.

Everyone knows the opener, "Roundabout", and it's a fantastic song. Probably one of the best ever written in rock history. It was a major hit, is still played on the radio today, and is the pinnacle of progressive rock writing. There are only about two parts to the song, but Yes variate on the two parts until no longer possible, which not only builds this song on great structure but makes it memorable and recognizable. "Cans and Brahms" is a fantastically executed classical solo opportunity for Wakeman, and though it is a pleasant listen it doesn't really stick out. "We Have Heaven" is a simple solo opportunity for Anderson chant a short couple line of lyrics, and also is quite passable.

After the couple of nearly pointless but well executed foolery, "South Side of the Sky" starts, which is one of the classic tracks in all of Yes' repertoire. This track manages to rock pretty hard and has a very nice groove, but still maintains the great composition style that makes "Roundabout" so great while adding more variation, such as the beautiful piano section that makes up the middle of the track. A super catchy classic track. "Five Percent for Nothing" is funky jazz prog for 41 seconds, but is very unimportant.

"Long Distance Runaround" is my personal favorite track on the album. After a frantic opening, the music becomes subdued and beautiful with a nice groove. The chord progression on this track is just wonderful, and the drums are very well executed. "The Fish" is a song that I usually get no real joy from listening to, but it does serve as a nice psychedelic interlude before the next track and Squire's bass sounds fantastic. "Mood for a Day" is a Steve Howe solo composition owing much to flamenco and classical styles, and it is a fun listen and really displays how great of a guitarist Howe really is without the context of the rest of the band.

The conclusion, "Heart of the Sunrise", starts off very quick and rocky but soon reveals itself to have a funky serenity quality. The bass is line is catchy and memorable and there are some psychedelic keyboard and guitar touches that are mesmerizing before it reverts back to the quick paced theme that the track started with. It gets quite beautiful in the middle, but meanders a bit from then on. This track never really did much for me, but it is another one of the more popular in the Yes catalog.

This is the album where Yes really finds their voice and that makes this album the perfect introduction to Yes. I personally prefer their next three records as being their best, but given the historic quality of this album and the songs "Roundabout", "South Side of the Sky", "Mood for a Day" and "Long Distance Runaround" I have to give this album 4 stars. It only seems appropriate and I have no problem complying with my feeling.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Rick Wakeman joins the Yes fold for this album, which is about as fragmentary as the disintegrating planet on the cover! Whilst the full-band compositions on this album are legendary, and deservedly so - Roundabout, South Side of the Sky, and Heart of the Sunrise are upbeat, foreboding, and uplifting epics respectively, whilst Long Distance Runaround is a delicious slice of Yes-ified pop whose simple structure is spiced up by Rick's synth interjections and other instrumental outbursts - the album is interspersed with shorter tracks intended to showcase each individual member's own skills.

These are a bit of a mixed bag. Wakeman's Cans and Brahms is a decent enough Brahms adaptation, showcasing both Rick's legendary instrumental ability and the potential of the range of synthesisers available to him. As a way of introducing him to the band's audience, it's reasonable enough - and since it's suggested that one of the reasons Tony Kaye left the band was down to his unwillingness to use newer keyboards, whilst Wakeman was more than happy to embrace any new technology that came his way, it makes sense that the band would be glad to accept a demonstration of the capabilities of Rick's equipment. But the fact is that it feels like a cross between an audition tape and a tech demo, rather than a fulfilling piece of music in its own right. Likewise, Jon Anderson's own We Have Heaven is technically innovative - Jon creating a wall of sound using only a multitrack studio and the power of his own voice - but it feels like a rough sketch paving the way to his first solo album.

The second side features solo compositions by Bruford, Squire, and Howe, and I personally find them to be a bit more engaging, but even so they do seem to serve little purpose beyond breaking up the full-band songs - and those songs are so wonderful that it seems like a waste of valuable space on the record to pad it out with this lesser material. Had the solo items been dropped, we could have had another 10-minute group track on here, and I'd have had no trouble giving the album five stars. As it is, I'll put it down for four - there's some really excellent material on here, but it's just too fragmentary to quite come together to a cohesive whole.

Review by Sagichim
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Fragile continuing the set of a few prog masterpieces created by yes in the early 70's. Picking up about where they left off, and only improving what they had before, Yes manged to out do them selves and put out a masterful album. Fragile takes another step into writing creativity featuring intense musicianship , intricate rhythms accomplished by bruford and squire. you can not but notice the improve of the sound of the whole band , great job done by eddie orford.

Roundabout features one of the band's greatest songs ever with everything layed out perfectly , squire's bass is like gasoline driving the bands forward with that amazing sounding bass. Howe's guitar is doing so much and it is so diverse fusing his electric guitar and his acoustic guitar together in a magnificent way. the song is building up and doesn't stop until the right moment has come, it calmes down with good keys by Wakeman and vocals by Anderson , then starts again with a bang featuring some solos from Howe and Wakeman, purely delicious.

The album is divided to short tracks showing each members his prowess , when actually it really doesn't , and longer tracks which sound heavy and very intricate incorporating one of Yes's signatures which is a controlled mess. the performance is outstanding by all, everything is so tight and firm, and you have a feel of an entire band playing together creating all that sound.

No doubt about it that this is one of the classic prog albums ever, featuring a band on the rise, musically and commercially. not to be missed in any way!! 4 stars

Review by rogerthat
4 stars The entry of Steve Howe brought flair to the table for Yes. With the addition of Rick Wakeman, they gain vital quirk and intrigue. While Yes have consistently crafted catchy and infectious prog that is yet sophisticated and inventive, it is the Wakeman years that brought them as close to emotional resonance as they would get. I don't think it is entirely on account of Wakeman and he may just have coincided with the most productive years of the band, but he certainly contributed to making this period a special one in Yes's journey.

It is not that I dislike happy music (on the contrary, celebration is a pervasive element of my native culture) but the Yes brand of happy-bland music seems to me to have more to do with happy chords than a powerful release of joy or ecstasy. Except, that is, on Fragile.

In this aptly titled album, Yes step away from the lingering Superman-OST quality of their previous album and attempt to confront emotions. I cannot say I am always overwhelmed by the depth of the emotions they project here. But, as usual, even when I don't find the proceedings so emotionally engaging, their sheer brilliance and creativity doesn't hurt at all.

South Side of the Sky is the one that resonates most with me. It is quite unique in the entire Yes canon, seemingly enveloped in imbalance and uneasiness. It never falls over or melts down, but the whole track seems to be as if at a tipping point, leaving me with a very powerful impression. It is interesting to note that even the melodies are not all happy this time. I don't know why they didn't try to tap this side of their music more, but I guess I am in the minority here as their happy-bland anthems (to me) have endured for years and created a huge following.

Heart of the Sunrise.....there's more heart in the lyrics here than the music. I feel the theme of confusion could have been exploited in a different direction and, possibly, a better one. It seems to be subordinated here by another showcase of quintessential Yes. The rather obvious nod to King Crimson in the beginning is not a great note to start on but the powerful Bruford-Squire rhythm section soon dispels these misgivings and paving the way for Anderson to do, er, what Anderson does. I do appreciate the clean and melodic quality of his high notes here but the lack of expression continues to be a problem for me and probably always will be. In terms of structure, it's a brilliant track and one of their best on that count.

There's not much for me to say about the rest. Roundabout is somewhat like an improved version of Yours is no disgrace. There is a feeling of familiarity that I could do without as even Wakeman veers towards John Lord-like organs here, but the execution is much improved.

I don't quite know what to make of the other tracks. They don't put together a cohesive impression to me and the album could have been better without a few of them. I usually skip them altogether while listening to the album so, practically speaking, it doesn't detract too much from my experience of Fragile. I don't really need Mood for a Day or We Are Heaven to make sense of Roundabout or Heart of the Sunrise. So should I just ignore it and give it all five stars?

What I cannot so easily overlook is the unfinished quality of these individual compositions. I cannot see the point of including these snippets of music. If it had to be done to, perhaps, please all members equally, they could have been developed and a double album released instead. I don't mind tracks that I dislike (because it's just about me) as much as I do rather dispensable affairs such as these which require a high level of devotion from the fan to endure.

I am fan of many artists and their best albums, but not a diehard fan of too many because I don't suffer filler too easily. Four stars for an album that I really love but one which is ultimately too flawed to warrant the masterpiece rating.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars ''The Yes Album'' and the following tour promoting the album marked the last days of Tony Kaye with Yes during the 70's, as he was fired in summer 71' after the conflicts with Howe while the band was still in tour.Rick Wakeman, the Classical-trained keyboardist of The Strawbs was his replacement, thus forming the most talented Yes line-up.While Kaye had participated in the long tracks of the following ''Fragile'' album, Wakeman added his touch in several piano interludes on a couple of them.The work was originally released in November 71' on Atlantic.

''Fragile'' shows clearly the progressive turning point of Yes into more complex forms of rock music, as represented in the three long tracks of the album.In between every member contributed with a solo performance of his own, some of them are succesful (like ''Cans and Brahms, an arrangement by Wakeman on the Fourth Symphony in E minor by Johannes Brahms, or the great ''The Fish'', based on Squire's bass), some are not (I do not like ''Mood for a Day'', entirely acoustic, elegant but rather uninteresting piece by Howe).The long arrangements though are of first class and even a shorter version of ''Roundabout'' prooved to have a great luck in the Billboard charts.The original 8-min. version though is pretty outstanding, featuring nice both acoustic and electric guitar passages by Howe and huge organ runs (originally performed by Kaye) along with Jon Anderson's unique voice.''South Side of the Sky'' is another fantastic piece.The tremendous guitar chops of Howe and Anderson's essential voice are interrupted before the middle by the excellent Wakeman piano work with evident Classical and even Jazz leanings, not to mention the well-worked Yes multi-vocal arrangements and the solid drumming of Bruford.The short ''Long Distance Runaround'', despite the limited length, features an excellent Chris Squire on bass next to Howe's charming guitars.''Heart of the Sunrise'' is no less than a complete Prog and Yes classic.Fantastic bass lines by Squire, huge performance by Wakeman on pianos,organs and Mellotron and complex guitar workouts by Squire, a very tight group offering massive breaks and changing moods in a composition where harmony meets adventure.Even the smooth middle-part with Anderson's voice leading the way is pretty delicate and attractive.A total masterpiece.

A Yes classic Prog album?Definitely.A Prog masterpiece?Not exactly.The short solo tracks hurt the album's consistency, even if most of them are fine listenings.But it will be the longer compositions, which you will stuck with.Tight, complicated and balanced full-blown Progressive Rock of high quality.Highly recommended.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Fragile is a legendary album coming from a legendary band thats for sure, what I'm not so sure is if this is their best album, to many is, to me is somewhere in the middle of Close to the edge and Relayer, but prefering Fragile over those two any second , any day, being among my fav Yes albums. Enter magician on keyboards Rick Wakeman and everything it changes for them from that point, becoming one of the most influencial bands ever prog rock had. Also Roger Dean appears for the first time here with a beautiful cover art going hand in hand with the majestic music Yes offered. Fragile have two of my fav Yes pieces ever the excellent opening Roundabout with powerful musicianship and great duels between musicians and Heart of the sinrise another worthy Yes pieces, the rest are also great. The combination of acustic parts with symphonic ones are excellent giving a very ethereal atmosphere and really fun to listen, I like this album a lot and anjoying this one as much as for example Going for the one. So, a very good album from that period who stood the test of time very well, sounds very fresh today after 40 years as it was back then. Recommened, nothing more to say..

Review by FragileKings
5 stars My previous experience with the music of Yes was as such: I had seen the videos for "Owner of a Lonely Heart" and "Leave It" and I once owned "The Yes Album" on cassette, which I purchased after seeing an old video of "I've Seen All Good People" on TV. I am sure I had heard "Roundabout" on the radio but hadn't cared much for it at the time. But after a very intense period of loving Rush, I decided to check out one of the bands that were always cited as a main influence on Rush's progressive rock endeavours, and it was "The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)" which I downloaded from iTunes that told me there was something grand happening here.

While not a totally perfect album, "Fragile" is for me one of the mainstays of seventies' progressive rock. It took the music of Yes a step further than "The Yes Album" which was already a great album in my opinion, though it had not yet reached the climax that it did with "Close to the Edge". The band assumed its classic line up with the addition of Rick Wakeman and there was room for anything to happen.

In a way, "Fragile" can be divided into two parts: the group songs and the individual contributions of each member (Anderson's "We Have Heaven", Wakeman's "Cans and Brahms", Brufford's "Five Per Cent for Nothing"-a title reflecting his disdain over their manager's contract, Howe's "Mood for a Day", and Squire's incredible multi-bass track piece "The Fish"). The individual pieces are all rather short but exhibit the range of ideas and talent that the band members bring with them to Yes and progressive music in general. The longer songs, however, are where the real music is.

Except for the short but very good "Long Distance Runaround", the three tracks "Roundabout", "South Side of the Sky" and "Heart of the Sunrise" show Yes at their best. Each song includes extended instrumental sections, juxtapositions of classical piano with hard rock, virtuostic soloing, frequent tempo and time signature changes, pronounced bass guitar (that rollicking bass riff in "Roundabout" should have sat the bass playing world on its ass!), and precise drumming, not to mention some great organ playing and powerful, emotive vocals (love Anderson's performance in "Heart of the Sunrise"!). Put these three songs together with the three tracks on "Close to the Edge" and you'd have one helluva fine volume of symphonic prog.

I can't say much else without repeating what others have already written. This is a classic! And as my user name suggests, this remains one of my most beloved prog rock albums.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The first Yes album to feature a Roger Dean cover. Also the first with one Rick Wakeman, previously a member of The Strawbs and a popular session keyboardist in England. When he joined he bought a bunch of keyboards which forced the record company to rush release the album so those keyboards could be paid for! While Steve Howe brought some country and jazz elements to Yes, Wakeman brought some classical sensibilities. Featuring what is considered the 'classic' lineup of Yes, responsible for the two most well regarded albums the group ever made. The band recorded their now classic version of Simon & Garfunkel's "America" at the same time but it was not included on the album.

There are solo pieces here which for me generally bring the quality and consistency of the album down a bit. Possibly inspired by Floyd's Ummagumma album, these solo pieces mostly sound like filler compared to the group pieces. Album opener "Roundabout" was a hit (in an edited form) on the radio. I've heard this song so much I never want to hear it again...but it's still a great song. Opening with a backwards piano note, this features some of Chris Squire's best and funkiest bass playing. Listening to this again reminds me how great these guys were at vocal harmonies. Love Wakeman's jazzy organ solo at one point.

"Cans And Brahms" is Wakeman's piece, although he didn't actually compose it. Sounds like Switched-On Bach; the least interesting of the solo pieces. "We Have Heaven" is Anderson's piece and in contrast to the last track is one of the better solo pieces. Nice vocal overdubs from Jon. It gets reprised at the end of the album. I never cared for "South Side Of The Sky" at first but it grew on me over the years. Still probably the weakest of the group efforts but contains one of the best parts of the album: the piano and vocal based middle section. Always loved the 'la-la' part, just puts me in a good mood. This track has some of Howe's best tones and playing on the album.

"Five Percent For Nothing" is Bruford's piece with a title that shows his sense of humour. More avant/fusion oriented but way too short. The contrast between the instrumental sections and the vocal parts in "Long Distance Runaround" always sounded forced to me; just doesn't flow well. Nonetheless, the vocal parts are some of Yes' best. "The Fish" segues from the last track and is the standout of the solo pieces here. Squire's piece is one of the highlights of the album. Everything except the vocals and drums were done on overdubbed bass guitars; this must have sounded like nothing else when this album was released.

"Mood For A Day" is Howe's piece. I never thought much of this, preferring "The Clap" instead. Album closer "Heart Of The Sunrise" is the highlight of the album and one of Yes' best tracks. Such an intense beginning - equal parts rock'n'roll and jazz. Then the Mellotron over that great bass line and Bruford's unpredictable drumming. Jon's vocal parts are the least interesting part of the track but not out of place by any means. Overall not the most consistent thing the group ever did but contains some of their best moments. I'll give this a 3.5 and bump it up to 4 stars.

Review by siLLy puPPy
5 stars In 1971 YES was riding the prog wave by releasing not just one but two classics that year. After going through several lineup changes it was time for yet another. Tony Kaye was asked to leave the band for not wanting to adapt to the group's ever expanding musical vision and incorporating more modern keyboard sounds to the mix and as a result the band scouted out Strawbs keyboardist Rick Wakeman cementing the band's most famous and celebrated of lineups in their several decade career. Noticeably different between "The Yes Album" and FRAGILE is on the former it had a bluegrass and countrified feel at times whereas with the addition of the classically trained Wakeman, the emphasis is much more in the classical music arena but plenty of jazz related influences can be found as well especially in Bill Bruford's excellent drumming department.

This album marked huge success in the YES world. The album proved the power of prog and its holy progginess hit the top 10 on the Billboard album charts and even spawned a top 40 hit with "Roundabout." FRAGILE also marks a new beginning with Roger Dean hopping on board to create his fantasy inspired artwork which would be a staple of the band throughout the 70s. Without doubt the album cover and title are inspired by the recently invented Earth Day and the global awareness of just how delicate and FRAGILE the life support systems on this planet can be.

The album does have one thing in common with "The Yes Album." The four longer full band tracks alternate with five shorter tracks that each member of the band contributed as to give each member a glimpse into their musical vision that isn't always apparent when melding in a band situation. The idea was conjured up more for a money saving one than an act of brilliance because it saved time and money in the recording process. Consequently the album may sound a little disjointed but after listening to this for years i have kinda come to the point where it is ok and i actually like the turbulent changes ranging from Wakeman's Brahms cover (Cans And Brahms), to Anderson's vocal dubbing fantasy (We Have Heaven), to Bruford's 4/4 timing with proggy-to-the-max dressing (Five Per Cent For Nothing) and Howe's beautiful classical guitar piece (Mood For A Day).

The longer tracks, "Roundabout," "Long Distance Roundabout" and "Heart Of The Sunrise" have to be some of the most catchy sounding progressive music ever! Each delivers a different mood mixing beautiful melodies with hearty instrumental workouts. The new lineup melds well together and although this album could be deemed a rehearsal for the following more sophisticated albums, FRAGILE works wonderfully in its own right providing yet another transitory experience in the fluidity of YES' ever-changing career. This is one of my first prog albums so it has that specialness attached as well, but even listening to it now with a more objective ear, it rings a uniqueness and warmth that very few other albums in history do.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars This is Yes' first album with the classic line-up that we have grown to know and love, all the cylinders are firing well and all of the geniuses are in place. The only difference in the line up from the previous "The Yes Album" is the addition of the keyboardist extraordinaire Rick Wakeman who replaced Tony Kaye. The difference in the keyboards is obvious almost immediately as we can hear the confidence in Wakeman's playing. Even though the previous album is a masterpiece also, if there was anything missing, it was a more up-front, in-your-face type keyboardist and they found that in Wakeman. The keys are more defined and technically complex, and thus, you have the classic amazing Yes sound beginning with this album.

This essential album is made up of songs credited to the entire band and also shorter tracks composed and credited to each single member of the band, sort of like ELP's "Works Volumes I and II" but more consistent. (By the way, "Fragile" was released long before "Works", but I just make the statement as a comparison to album structure.) We start off with the ever popular "Roundabout" which should only be heard in the full album version, not the edited versions that were made for radio play. This is the perfect album starter and immediately lets us know what we are in for when listening to this album. The mix is perfect as you can hear every single instrument and each contributor equally and as such you can hear all of the wonderful things that go into each of Yes' most complex works. I know this song has been overplayed, but the amazing thing is that I still love this song and it still has not lost it's amazingness to me like other overplayed radio songs have. Definitely still one of my all time favorites, but then this album has a few of those. Next is Rick Wakeman's solo contribution to the album called "Cans and Brahms" which is a keyboard arrangement of a composition by Brahms. Sort of underwhelming considering the pompousness of Wakeman's other compositions, but still short and enjoyable. Another solo contribution follows, this time from Jon Anderson. "We Have Heaven" is a complex composition of multi-tracked vocals all of Jon in an amazing harmonic blissfulness. There is some support of instruments, but they are minimal and drowned in the vocals. Once we get to the climax of this short song, we are swallowed up in harmonics each singing all the different hooks from the melody at the same time when this is suddenly stopped by the sound of a door slamming and the sound of footfalls of someone running away.

The next track is a long epic "South Side of the Sky" which is not one of my most favorite epic songs but it is still a great one. I do love the long piano interlude from Rick here though, and it is at this point that we know that Yes has made a wise choice. The interlude is full of flourish, beauty and excitement, and proves that you don't need special effects and fancy synthesizer to create a powerful passage, this time it is all done acoustically and it is amazing. The rest of the song is great, but not one of their best. The next track is the short contribution from Bill Bruford. At only :35 seconds, this composition has more going on in it than most other bands can put in a typical 5 minute song. It goes by quickly, but still begs to be listened to closely. There is nothing typical about this song, but it does plenty to prove that Bruford is an amazing musician. Another band composition follows, this time a relatively short one called "Long Distance Runaround" which ends up segueing into "The Fish" which is the outstanding contribution by Chris Squire. These two songs have always been expected to be heard together almost as one song. Of course, this features the bass which is amazing. The good thing about this entire album is you can hear the bass as much as all of the other instruments, but in later albums like "Relayer" and "Going for the One" the bass seems to be pushed down into the mix. Even though the version of "The Fish" is longer and slightly better on the "Yessongs" live 3 album set, this one is still amazing.

Finally, the last track is another one of my all time Yes favorites "Heart of the Sunrise". This has to have one of the best bass/guitar hooks in existence that switches back and forth from 6/8 to 3/4 time without even blinking. The introduction of the song goes on for quite some time and I love this part of it. It starts right off on a tension filled riff at high power and lots of energy before calming down for a while with a killer bass line and building back up slowly to the high energy riff again before the tension breaks again and it comes into the main melody. Jon sings softly in 6/8 with a 5/8 riff thrown in just to keep it unconventional and Rick adds a 9/8 meter keyboard riff and the song builds and releases several times repeating several riffs, especially that crazy powerful hook that is so entrancing. This song just has to be heard, that's all there is to it. If there ever was a perfect rock composition, this is it! I just can't say enough about it. Oh, then "We Have Heaven" has a short reprise thrown in at the end.

Anyway, yes I love "Heart of the Sunrise", but I love this whole album and even though "South Side of the Sky" is one of their weaker epics (except for that piano solo), it is still better than most musicians can even hope to come up with and still does not take away the fact that this is by all means an essential Yes album and essential prog album.

If you get the 2003 reissue, you also get the excellent cover of the Paul Simon song "America" which is Yes-ified completely and made into a progressive rock marvel sounding almost nothing like the Simon & Garfunkel version and stretched out to over 10 minutes. You also get an early version of "Roundabout" which has some interesting twists from the version we are used to.

Anyway, no progressive rock collection should be without this album. It's just as important as their next album "Close to the Edge". 5 stars, but if there was a 6th star for perfect albums, this one would have it.

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars When I was writing my review of "Close To The Edge", I devised an analogy that compares the first 3 classic Yes albums to the movie Rocky. "Close To The Edge" is the triumphant prize fight, "The Yes Album" is exposition and "Fragile" is the intermediary training sequence.

The Rocky training montage is one of those iconic moments in cinema and is the most memorable part that everyone loves or at least knows about, even if they haven't seen the movie. "Fragile" is like that. With Rick Wakeman joining the band's line-up, the pieces were falling in place for the glory of "Close To The Edge" to eventually materialize. Yes had already established themselves and were now training to be the champions. The album is montage-like in ways, too, given that 5 out of 9 tracks are short solo pieces that, when their facets get stitched together, will turn the members of Yes into prizefighters of prog. "Mood For A Day" is Steve Howe sparring with the flank of beef, "The Fish" is Chris Squire's one-armed push-ups in the gym, "We Have Heaven" is Jon Anderson jogging through the industrial yards. And of course, "Roundabout" and "Heart of The Sunrise" are the triumphant scene where Rick Wakeman runs up the steps with the sun rising over Philadelphia and the city's streets following after him; cathartic, spiritual and iconic works of prog.

All in all, "Fragile" is a prog classic that is very close to being a masterpiece, but is just a little too disjointed to earn that title. But even though it isn't a "masterpiece", per se, the fact that this album contains "Heart of The Sunrise", which may very well be one of the most perfectly executed songs period, definitely pushes it towards being a prog essential. As it stands, though, I believe that "Fragile" is a (slight) step below the albums bookending it, so I'll reluctantly settle on a 4 star rating. Gonna fly now!

Review by patrickq
5 stars Yes's Fragile is an all-time classic of progressive rock, for historical reasons if nothing else. It contains the full version of "Roundabout," one of the early milestones in the genre; it's the first Yes album with keyboardist Rick Wakeman, and it's the first Yes album whose cover was painted by Roger Dean.

It's not perfect, though, and it isn't even the best Yes album; the group would improve upon Fragile less than a year later with the release of Close to the Edge.

The biggest threat to Fragile's status as a masterpiece is the concept of four ensemble pieces interleaved among five individual tracks, each showcasing the talents of one member. Wakeman's plan was to use the song he eventually named "Catherine of Aragon," which he recorded with the rest of the instrumentalists in the band: guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Bill Bruford, and bassist Chris Squire. Because he couldn't have earned royalties for this composition if it were released on a Yes album at that time (a situation apparently remedied by the time Close to the Edge was released), he wisely withheld it and released it on what became a very successful solo album. "Catherine of Aragon" would've fit very nicely on Fragile; instead Wakeman played a Brahms piece, multitracking several keyboards. In isolation, it's boring and bears little relation to the rest of the album. Luckily, it's less than two minutes long. Vocalist Jon Anderson's effort "We Have Heaven" is a similar case: interesting idea, repeated a few too many times. And at thirty-five seconds in length, Bruford's "Five Percent for Nothing" doesn't detract from the album, but neither does it add any value.

Howe's "Mood for a Day" is reasonably good, and works well as a bridge between its predecessor ("The Fish") and successor ("Heart of the Sunrise"). Yet it is not nearly as good as "Clap," his solo turn from the group's previous album.

Of the individual-member showcases, the best is Squire's "The Fish," which is essentially the second half of a medley with "Long Distance Runaround." "The Fish" is a largely instrumental song whose atmosphere resembles that of the middle section of "South Side of the Sky" and the closing part of "Heart of the Sunrise" - - in other words, it meshes with the main part of the album. Over time, of course, I've gotten used to "Cans and Brahms," Anderson's "We Have Heaven," "Five Percent," and "Mood for a Day" as parts of the song sequence of Fragile, and although I may quibble about them, they only account for about six and a half minutes of the running time - - and the remainder of Fragile is fantastic.

The four full-band songs are fantastic. Amazingly, my least favorite of the "core four" songs is the excellent "Roundabout," partly because of overexposure, I suppose, but also because the other material is so strong. "Long Distance Runaround / The Fish" and "South Side of the Sky" are both five-star Yes songs, and the mini-symphony "Heart of the Sunrise" is one of Yes's best songs ever. (I consider the top echelon to be "Close to the Edge," "Gates of Delirium," "Yours is no Disgrace," and "Heart of the Sunrise.")

Bottom line: with the inclusion of the "showcase" tunes, Fragile isn't quite as good as Close to the Edge or Relayer. Nonetheless, and without reservation, I consider it to be a five-star "masterpiece."

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nº 30

"Fragile" is the fourth studio album of Yes and was released in 1971. However, it was only released in US, two months later, due to the chart momentum of their previous third studio album, "The Yes Album" released in the same year. It was the first album from the band, to feature the art cover of Roger Dean, which would become an emblematic artist in the progressive rock music. The album reached number 7 in England and number 4 in America.

The line up on "Fragile" is Jon Anderson (lead and backing vocals), Steve Howe (backing vocals, electric and acoustic guitars), Rick Wakeman (Hammond organ, grand piano, RMI 368 Electra piano and harpsichord, mellotron and Moog synthesizer), Chris Squire (backing vocals, bass guitars and electric guitar) and Bill Bruford (drums and percussion). It's the first Yes album with Wakeman, who left Strawbs after their third studio album "From The Witchwood". The previous Yes former keyboardist was Tony Kaye who left the band in 1971. He joined to the ex-Yes guitarist Peter Banks, on the group Flash. Probably, this is the best line up of Yes, which is connected to some of their best albums.

"Fragile" has nine tracks. I'm going to divide the album's tracks into two distinct parts. The four tracks composed, arranged and performed by the band and the five tracks which are individual ideas, composed, arranged and organized by all five members of the group, individually. I'm going to appreciate them with a different attention.

The Yes' tracks are: The first track "Roundabout" written by Anderson and Howe became one of the best known tracks of Yes and one of the most played live by the band, with several versions, on diverse live albums. An edited version was released as the A side on a single, with "Long Distance Runaround" as the B side. It represents the result of the new, collective and more inventive sound of the group, never heard before, and shows the musical power of Yes. The fourth track "South Side Of The Sky" written by Anderson and Squire is another great composition with superb harmonies. This and "Roundabout" are two of the most powerful songs on the album. I want to draw your attention, for those who don't know yet, that there is a new version of the song released by Glass Hammer, which opens their ninth studio album "Culture Of Ascent" released in 2007. This album has also the participation of Anderson on vocals. In my humble opinion, Glass Hammer is a very interesting band, and this new version and the album itself, are really very good. The sixth track "Long Distance Runaround" written by Anderson is the smallest track of the band's songs. It's perhaps, the most charming of all "Fragile's" songs, with Anderson singing, while Howe's guitar and Wakeman's keyboards, noodle beautifully together in the mix. The ninth track "Heart Of The Sunrise" written by Anderson, Squire and Bruford, is the last band's song. It became as also one of the best and most popular songs to be played live by the group. This is the best track on the album and it binds together the gentle and bombastic musical atmosphere and the fiery technicality that are portrayed on the album. It also shows several aspects of Anderson's great vocal abilities.

The remaining five tracks are the individual songs of all band's members. The second track "Cans And Brahams" is an adaptation by Wakeman, containing extracts of the Brahams' 4th Symphony. The third track "We Have Heaven" is a personal idea of Anderson. The fifth track "Five Per Cent For Nothing" is the Bruford's track written on his usual percussive line. The seventh track "The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)" is the Squire experience, where he uses the different sounds on his bass guitar. Finally, the eighth track "Mood For A Day" is a classical piece of music, played on an acoustic guitar, and represents the Howe's personal moment on the album.

Conclusion: "Fragile" isn't clearly a uniform musical effort made by the group. The band's tracks "Roundabout", "South Side Of The Sky" and "Heart Of The Sunrise" are all excellent and deserve to be rated as three masterpieces. The band's track "Long Distance Runaround" is also an excellent track, but without quality enough to be comparable with the other three tracks. About the individual five tracks, sincerely I think they're in general uninteresting. With the exception of "Cans And Brahms", which is an interesting piece of classical music and "Mood For A Day", which is a good piece of acoustic guitar music, all the others three tracks are disconnected and don't deserve make part of this album. "Fragile" was completed in less than two months, especially because they needed a new album to pay all the new Wakeman's equipment. Probably, this was the main reason, why the group created individual songs to release the album as soon as possible. In my humble opinion, "Fragile" is an unbalanced album, and is far away from the quality level of "Close To Edge". Sincerely, I even think that "The Yes Album" has better and timeless compositions. But "Fragile", only because the band's songs, is a more adventurous album which defined their sound, for years to come.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by ALotOfBottle
5 stars My favorite Yes album. I generally like this work better than "Close To The Edge", which (despite its glory and my love for it) often puts me to sleep. This album could come out as disc 2 with "Close To The Edge" no problem, the transition in style is only very subtle from one to another. This is the first album that really marks the "classic" Yes sound. The listener is welcomed by amazing cover art by Roger Dean, taking us into the unknown lands. What I especially like about "Fragile" are the micro synthesizer touches, well visible on "Roundabout". Work of every instrument is a spot-on. A lot has been said about this album. Needless to say, this is a must for any rock fan, great, great album. The glory days of progressive rock!
Review by The Crow
4 stars And finally, Rick Wakeman arrived!

After the average debut Yes, the better Time and a Word and the fine The Yes Album, Fragile was in my opinion the first truly great Yes record and Wakeman was the perfect fit for the band. His spectacular style of playing fuses perfectly with the playful guitars of Howe, the mellow bass of Squire, the powerful drumming of Bruford and the soft and high-pitched voice of Anderson.

Since the beginning of the album with the tremendous Roundabout, is clear that Wakeman is here to have a good part of protagonism in Yes's music. And because of that, the definitive sound of Yes can be heard for the first time in Fragile, which sadly also contains a pair of lackluster tracks (the innocuous Cans and Brahms and We Have Heaven, and the silly Five Percent for Nothing) which prevents this album to have the maximum rating.

Best Tracks: Roundabout (incredible keyboards and marvelous chorus for one of the best songs in the entire Yes's career!), South Side of the Sky (incredible riffs from Howe!), Long Distance Runaround (the verses are great, with its syncopated riffs of bass and guitar) and Mood For a Day (a song with strong influence of Spanish classical music in the vein of Isaac Albeniz!)

Conclusion: Fragile was the introduction of the definitive Yes's line up with Wakeman finally on keys! It contains some truly great songs and despite the three weak tracks that I mentioned before and the also not so brilliant and too repetitive long composition Heart of the Sunrise, it's a true pleasure to the ears and an immortal prog-rock classic!

My rating: ****

Review by jamesbaldwin
4 stars First album with Rick Wakeman, "Fragile " is the only competitor of "Close To The Edge" for the palm of Best album of Yes. It is lighter and fragmentary, but also more varied and cheerful.

1. Roundabout (8:29) is a live classic, a long rock and roll song. Excellent classical guitar and rhythm and instrumental parts (organ solo by Wakeman); in the long, the sung part sounds a little didactic.

2. Cans And Brahms (1:35) is an organ solo by Wakeman. Childish and naïve, but pretty, fanciful. Rating 7+. 3. We Have Heaven (1:30) is an obsessive repetition by vocals and rhythm. Pretty but cloying. Rating 7.

4. South Side Of The Sky (8:04) is another long rock and roll song. Excellent the two parts, that hard rock and the melodic part, excellent the instrumental parts (with the guitar) and the melody on the piano; a little redundant the choir "Na-na-na". Rating 8,5. 5. Five Percent For Nothing (0:35): Dissonant and nervous fragment. No rating. End of Side A.

It is a captivating music, which has a cheerful exuberant pop rhythm, a high vocal hue (Jon Anderson) and a good rhythm: perfect heir to the Beatles, it manages to combine easy listening with long songs, elaborate and with high rate of virtuosity.

Side B: 6. Long Distance Runaround (3:33) is a rock and roll piece, not completed. It fades into the next instrumental song: 7. The Fish. Overall Rating: 7+.

8. Mood For A Day (3:57) is a classic guitar solo, played by Steve Howe. Elegant. Rating 7,5. 9. Heart Of The Sunrise (10:34) is a long, epic song, and the absolute masterpiece of the album. Large instrumental progression, with numbers from the rhythm section (Bruford, Squire). Moving voice by Anderson, that reaches a great peak of pathos. Rating 9.

The album is excellent in the three long compositions, which are better than those of the second side of Close To The Edge, but unfortunately it turns out, for the rest, full of fillers. "Heart Of The Sunrise" reaches one of the absolute peaks of quality in the discography of Yes, and if it took the place of "Siberian Khatru", it would have made "CTTE" a true masterpiece. Instead, here it elevates the quality of an album very appealing and pleasant to listen but that, for the rest, does not reach the height of the masterpiece. In my opinion, the value of the album is close to CTTE but slightly lower.

Average quality of the songs: 7,82. Rating album: 8,5. Four Stars.

Review by Hector Enrique
4 stars The album Fragile was the consolidation of the potential that Yes Album had shown. That was first because the musical identity of the band started to be more defined and second because of the incorporation of the arsenal of organs, mellotrons, clavichords and synthesizers that Rick Wakeman brought into the group. We can say that these factors ended up rounding the band´s most distinctive style.

The creative freedom that these virtuous musicians show to develop their musical potentialities, shaped fundamental material from their discographies, such as the extensive and complex Roundabout and Heart Of The Sunrise, two of the most representative compositions of the progressive genre.

There was also room for individual brilliance, such as Wakeman's delicate arrangement in Cans And Brahms of the 4th Symphony in E Minor, Third Movement by Johannes Brahms. Other ones are Jon Anderson's overlapping vocal performance in We Have Heaven, Steve Howe's mastery of the acoustic guitar in Mood For A Day and Bill Bruford's very short percussion experiment in Five Percent For Nothing.

South Side Of The Sky and Long Distance Runaround, two other good songs, but less impressive than the predecessors, complete the album.

Fragile is also the beginning of the band relationship with Roger Dean, the fantastic designer who was in charge of masterfully interpreting on the covers and the interior material, the message the group wanted to convey with his music, and from that moment, it formed a fundamental part of the band image

Latest members reviews

5 stars As previously mentioned, this is a masterpiece, and not just Yes's best album, but ultimately up there with the likes of Kind of Blue, as possibly an all-time great album. I had this on vinyl when it came out and it probably saved my life as a traumaticed tennager, and ultimately led to my life ... (read more)

Report this review (#2957117) | Posted by Prawngod | Tuesday, October 3, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Review #23! Yes's 'Fragile', considered one of their two most notable masterpieces, starts off with the progressive rock classic 'Roundabout'. Some of the lyrics to this track either inspired or were based on the cover art. This song features one of Chris Squire's funkiest bass lines ever. The ... (read more)

Report this review (#2901779) | Posted by Boi_da_boi_124 | Saturday, March 25, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars For some reason I used to consider The Yes Album and Fragile as being stylistically and Instrumentally almost interchangeable but in retrospect the later album showed a huge development. Rick Wakeman must surely take a lot of the credit for this. Not only did he introduce new sounds to the group's ... (read more)

Report this review (#2855471) | Posted by Lupton | Wednesday, November 30, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Fragile is the fourth studio album by yes, a prog classic, I have known this album through the series of "Jojo's bizarre adventure". It's an essential for every prog rock fan, it's an enjoyable record with fun songs, great guitar work and keyboards, and it shows yes ability in arrangement, energeti ... (read more)

Report this review (#2757051) | Posted by A_Beloucif | Saturday, May 28, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Roundabout I'm not really sure what I can say about this song that hasn't already been said. Its their most popular song, and rightfully so. Its insanely listenable for a yes song (and for an eight and a half minute song as well), and it contains much of the "classic" sounds that The Yes Album did. ... (read more)

Report this review (#2714823) | Posted by DorKnor | Friday, April 1, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Fragile is fun. Far more so than Close To The Edge. It has a lot of experimentation, but not everything works as well. Still, this is a classic album. Roundabout is brilliant. Notably, Squire and Bruford are doing excellent things. But Anderson, Wakeman and Howe also shine. 10/10 Cans and ... (read more)

Report this review (#2654648) | Posted by WJA-K | Wednesday, December 22, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Disclaimer: I'm a sucker for minstrel medieval guitars, one of the reasons why I love early Jethro Tull so much? with that being said I'll move to my review. I do understand and acknowledge that Close to the Edge (their next studio album to this one) is at the top of most prog heads when YES com ... (read more)

Report this review (#2594016) | Posted by ElChanclas | Sunday, September 12, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Review - #4 (Yes - Fragile) Yes released their fourth studio album, Fragile, on the 26th of November in 1971. It was the band's first album to feature keyboardist Rick Wakeman, who replaced founder member Tony Kaye. Tony Kaye was said to be unwilling to develop his sound beyond his Hammond or ... (read more)

Report this review (#2536209) | Posted by Prog Zone | Sunday, April 18, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Review #46 - - - This is a revisited version of the review that I wrote seven years ago with my first account Zeuhl Glikowski II - - - This is how a masterpiece should sound like. After Tony KAYE left the band, Chris SQUIRE invited STRAWBS' keyboard player (who had also played piano in Davi ... (read more)

Report this review (#2481350) | Posted by Uruk_hai | Monday, November 30, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Fourth album of YES, and the first to have Rick Wakeman in the line up. Not to look down to other YES formations (as each of them has unique features), this Squire + ABWH is my favourite one. The presence of Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman indeed contributes a lot to build genuine musical identity o ... (read more)

Report this review (#2475527) | Posted by Mark-P | Saturday, November 14, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The first true classic by Yes and one of the classics in the traditional prog-rock genre. This would be the most accessible album until 1977's more earthy output. The band embraces the top qualities of each of the member, adding Wakeman to its strengths. His sound can be stately, virtuos, compl ... (read more)

Report this review (#2418686) | Posted by sgtpepper | Saturday, July 11, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The band wanted more moog and other synths on their next album, Fragile and Tony Kaye couldn't (or wouldn't) provide them, so wunderkind, Rick Wakeman joins the band and makes an immediate impact. Wakeman is a ticking time bomb. He is too talented not to have his own band and too gregarious not ... (read more)

Report this review (#2412435) | Posted by iluvmarillion | Thursday, June 11, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Fragile, the fourth album by Yes is really a bridge between its rock-influenced predecessor, The Yes Album, and the nearly pure prog albums which would follow. The album features four tracks of full band performances, three of which were of eight minutes length or longer interspersed by five sho ... (read more)

Report this review (#2165543) | Posted by Trevere | Thursday, March 14, 2019 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The most essential not-quite-5-star album, ever! This album contains two of the best pieces ever written: "Heart of the Sunrise" and "Mood for a Day". These were life-changing pieces of music for me, and even after listening to them >1000 times, I still love hearing them, and indeed, find it hard ... (read more)

Report this review (#1696009) | Posted by Walkscore | Wednesday, February 22, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is a solid first album for the classic lineup, and the improvement in the keyboard quality is obvious, but to me it's half a great album with a lot of filler. I'm not that big a fan of South Side of the Sky, it's really just a pretty simple song with one nice piano line repeated several tim ... (read more)

Report this review (#1618961) | Posted by pacidy | Wednesday, October 5, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album is good stuff, no doubt. It's pretty awesome to have a prog album like this one, however this record doesn't reach the "Close to the edge" greatness for me. After understanding the magic of "Close to the edge" I knew that I would have a hard time appreciating any other Yes album. But ... (read more)

Report this review (#1585202) | Posted by Rodrigo Andrade7 | Tuesday, July 5, 2016 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Fragile is the 4th album by Yes and sees the debut of the long blonde flowing locked Rack Wickman. The whole shooboodle starts of with "Rondaboat" and a sort of bad mooded sounding opening before suddenly stopping and revealing a short acoustic guitar piece by Geoffrey Howe which is pure Ro in ... (read more)

Report this review (#1422100) | Posted by Alard Charlton | Monday, June 1, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars What has been said about this album that hasn't been said before? Definitely YES's most known and popular album, Fragile is an absolute masterpiece of progressive rock. Instead of going into facts about the release and band status at the time, I'm just going to take you through the pros and co ... (read more)

Report this review (#1290573) | Posted by aglasshouse | Sunday, October 12, 2014 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I was always wondering why people regard this as a masterpiece. I'm writing this review in order to express a different opinion and not, of course, to convince you not to like it! So, please don't attack me because of the low rating I give. If you wish to help me discover virtues of it that still ... (read more)

Report this review (#1225983) | Posted by psychprog1 | Tuesday, July 29, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars For years as a preteen and teen, Yes was my favorite band. Fragile, Close to the Edge, and The Yes Album were the reasons. Fragile and The Yes Album especially are the pinnacle of the Yes discography, fully worthy of 5 stars.. Although I listened repeatedly to CTTE when I was young, now I f ... (read more)

Report this review (#1178413) | Posted by thwok | Friday, May 23, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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