YES — Fragile (review)

YES — Fragile album cover Album · 1971 · Jazz Related Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Prog Zone
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 organ and piano to play newer instruments such as the Mellotron or Moog synthesizer, causing artistic disagreements with his bandmates. The rest of the band members included within this line-up was Jon Anderson on vocals, Steve Howe on guitars, Chris Squire on bass, and Bill Bruford on drums. This is considered to be Yes' "classic" lineup. Furthermore, this album is commonly viewed as the bands breakthrough release even though I consider it to be on par with their previous studio album, The Yes Album. The album, Fragile, contains nine tracks; four are "group arranged and performed" with the remaining five being "the individual ideas, personally arranged and organized" by all five members of the band. This concept has been criticized by some; however, I personally think it is a great idea executed perfectly. It has become such an iconic part of the album that anyone else that would decide to do it again would just be seen as ripping Yes off. The "individual ideas, personally arranged and organized" concept creates a seamless flow throughout the entire album while adding true depth and personality therein. Now, let's take a peek at the tracks found on the album.

Fragile kicks off with an absolute classic that no true prog fan will not immediately recognize. This song is entitled Roundabout. Even though the amount of play this song receives in comparison to the bands entire discography can sometimes get bothersome, I believe this song is truly fantastic despite it's enormous popularity. If anything, it's popularity somewhat supports the song's strength. Not to mention, the first minute of the song played on acoustic guitar is one of the most iconic openings within all of music. The rest of the song is also great, containing extraordinary instrumentation from the entire band, especially Chris Squire. Interestingly enough, Steve Howe once recalled the track was originally "a guitar instrumental suite" that he wrote. The next two songs are "individual ideas, personally arranged and organized" with the first being a classical piano piece by Rick Wakeman. Although it isn't anything mind-blowing, it still succeeds in what it is attempting to accomplish while therein being a memorable moment found within the album. The next piece, entitled "We Have Heaven" is a genuinely interesting idea conceptually and when referring to the way it is produced. Jon Anderson basically only uses his voice to create a piece of music that hasn't truly been replicated as well or at all to this day. Despite what others might think, I love it! After We Have Heaven, the album picks back up into a full band piece called South Side of the Sky. This piece begins with a gust of wind being heard blowing in the background, but suddenly, the band begins to play one of their heaviest parts to date and its done superbly. Jon Anderson's vocals really has a punch to it and it is definitely heard within the music. Not to mention the rest of the band is also playing terrific. However, a few seconds after the two-minute mark the band slows things down a commences this phenomenal piano and harmony section that still gives me chills to this day. Incredible! This continues until the six-minute mark where the band goes back to the heavier section found in the introduction of the song. This song and the rest of the "full-band" tracks found off this album are all truly examples of quality musicianship and song writing.

Side B of the album begins with an individually arranged and organized track entitled Five per Cent for Nothing which certainly is a weird opener for the second side of the album. It somewhat reminds me of a precursor for the opening of Close to the Edge. However, I still think it works and creates a similar effect to what Close to the Edge was able to do for the listener, creating both shock and confusion. The next song, composed by the entire band, is called Long Distance Runaround. If I'm truly honest, I've never been a huge fan of the song. It isn't bad by any means, but it never completely encapsulates me like the rest of the full-band tracks found on the album. Still, a good addition to the album as a whole. Now, the next song entitled The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus) is nothing less then incredible. It is a personally arranged and organized piece by Chris Squire and is my favorite "solo" piece found on the album. The song builds in a truly extraordinary way, containing great bass played from Chris Squire himself. The next song, Mood for a Day is a acoustic guitar solo piece from Steve Howe which is unbelievably beautiful and is one of his best solo guitar pieces he has ever written. This is including stuff from his solo career. The last song, Heart of the Sunrise is personally my favorite song on the album. The song starts with a bang with Steve Howe showing his skill on guitar. But then, Chris Squire begins a bass solo and wow, is it incredible! If anyone has ever played the Halo video game series, it is very similar to a theme found within the game that I almost feel as if the games creators might have been inspired by the Heart of the Sunrise. Also, Jon Anderson does one of his best vocal performances that I've heard while singing with such emotion and soul. From start to finish, it's a truly brilliant song!

Fragile is an absolute classic album for Yes and progressive rock in general that I would consider to be essential for any progressive rock collection. From the brilliantly written and preformed group pieces to the nice interluded individually written pieces from band members, this album does so much right. The introduction of Rick Wakeman on this album is truly felt, however, this can be said with every member from the band. Do yourself a favor and own this masterpiece. Dream on, on to the heart of the sunrise!

- π˜›π˜©π˜ͺ𝘴 𝘳𝘦𝘷π˜ͺ𝘦𝘸 𝘸𝘒𝘴 𝘰𝘳π˜ͺ𝘨π˜ͺ𝘯𝘒𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘸𝘳π˜ͺ𝘡𝘡𝘦𝘯 𝘧𝘰𝘳 π˜—π˜³π˜°π˜¨ 𝘈𝘳𝘀𝘩π˜ͺ𝘷𝘦𝘴 (http://www.progarchives.com/Review.asp?id=2536209)
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