Yes
Fragile


4.5
superb

Review

by Matthijs van der Lee USER (219 Reviews)
November 19th, 2010 | 38 replies | 4,612 views


Release Date: 1971 | Tracklist

Review Summary: As Wakeman joins the fold and completes the classic formation, Yes make their best album yet.

7 of 7 thought this review was well written

Next to the albums Close to the Edge and Relayer, Fragile is one of Yes’ greatest progressive achievements, and still one of their more popular albums. This is partly thanks to the fact that it carries Roundabout, the group’s most popular epic-length song. While their later pop hit Owner of a Lonely Heart was obviously a bigger hit, Roundabout is the band’s signature track when it comes to their classic era, and a damn great one at that. Known for Howe’s characteristic recurring acoustic part, one of his best-known pieces of guitar, it does what most of its genre contemporaries fail to: being both over-the-top virtuosic and highly infectious. Still, it’s one of Yes’ very best.

Fragile is clearly structured around its three epics. Roundabout opens, South Side of the Sky provides the big middle break, and Heart of the Sunrise ensures a fitting conclusion. The other six songs are short, most of them not even clocking at three minutes, and may have been very well put in to bend to the rules of the era. The likes of tracks over even 5 or 6 minutes long were still quite unusual at that time, which was why pioneering groups such as King Crimson included names of multiple parts in their song titles; parts that were essentially fake but made sure they had the necessary minimum of titles on a record.

These interludes are nevertheless interesting, particularly the idea that each member made one contribution (two in Anderson’s case), and show the individual qualities of all members of the classic line-up. Cans and Brahms displays Wakeman’s background of classical piano training (this was the first Yes album on which he played), We Have Heaven and Long Distance Runaround (unintentionally) contrast how annoying and how excellent Anderson’s vocals can be, and Bruford, Squire and Howe’s non-inimitable instrumental styles are well-represented in Five Percent for Nothing, Fish and Mood for a Day, respectively. The appeal of these interludes may run out, obviously, but in fact, Anderson’s second and Howe’s composition are great standalone songs.

But as written, at the end of the day, Fragile, and Yes in general, is all about the epics. Roundabout may be nothing short of fantastic, but South Side of the Sky and Heart of the Sunrise are two of the group’s greatest achievements just the same. The former majorly relies on Wakeman’s mastery of the keys and Anderson’s dramatic but strong delivery, but the latter is really a group effort, and a brilliant closer for partly that reason. Howe and Squire churn out some of their most stunning interplay, Wakeman does what he does best, Bruford always keep a strong rhythm, and Anderson throws down one of his most amazing vocal outbursts, particularly in the last chorus, which is charged with emotion (thankfully his vocals almost always work, despite his infamously undecipherable lyrics). Powerful, accomplished, and just plain amazing.

Yes had giant potential in its classic era. Potential that, unfortunately and inevitably, could not be put to longer use. That’s however how these things just seem to go. As contemporary artists like Genesis, Camel and Pink Floyd have, as well as many others outside the genre, have shown us alike, the peak, whenever reached, is always cut short for some reason. Fragile, innovative, powerful and only slightly flawed, should be held the treasure it is. Essential in any progster’s collection.

Fragile’s Yes was:

- John Roy Anderson ~ Lead Vocals
- Stephen James Howe ~ Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Christopher Russell Squire ~ Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Richard Christopher Wakeman ~ Organ, Piano, Moog Synthesizer
- William Scott Bruford ~ Drums, Percussion

TO BE CONTINUED...




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user ratings (1144)
Chart.
4.4
superb
other reviews of this album
TheMystical (4.5)
A musically understated classic....

NightmareCinema16 (4.5)
The album that launched the group as an international phenomenon....

420yeah666yeah69 (5)
An outstanding performance by Yes. One of the best in Prog Rock. The most freezan album I heard in...

keep on phishin' (4)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Nagrarok
November 19th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

More love for YES.

Blaizend
November 19th 2010



647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Was this Review Well Written? YES.

americanmusicmachine
November 19th 2010



3953 Comments


great review.

have ya'll seen the 'Buffalo 66' trailer? it's pretty awesome and it uses 'heart of the sunrise' and it's probably the only reason I ever listened to Yes, which is actually kinda stupid but........
http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi1102840089/

Nagrarok
November 19th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

have ya'll seen the 'Buffalo 66' trailer? it's pretty awesome and it uses 'heart of the sunrise'


I have now. Pretty great use of the song.

Jethro42
November 19th 2010



12365 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

''...the peak, whenever reached, is always cut short for some reason''

The ruthless Dark Age is solely responsible as we know it.

YESSSSSSuperb review mate. Fragile, Supertramp' Crime of the Century and Genesis' Foxtrot were the very first progressive rock albums I've bought.
Now ask me why I became an inveterate progster.

Nagrarok
November 19th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Why did you become an inveterate progster?

Jethro42
November 19th 2010



12365 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

HAHAHA Good question =P.
I guess it's because progressive rock came to me more than 30 years ago.

Nagrarok
November 19th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

That is why you are the Progressive Rock Authoritah.

Jethro42
November 19th 2010



12365 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

haha It's flattering to be somehow useful to the Sputnik community. Oh and yes, Gentle Giant' Free Hand was among my first prog album purchases as well, and I quickly owned their entire discography, same for most of the 70's prog monsters.
Edit: Looks like Nagrarok and me are in an interview.

BigHans
November 19th 2010



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ILL BE THE ROUNDDDDDDDDDDDDABOUT

Nagrarok
November 19th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

THE WORDS WILL MAKE YOU OUT AND OUT

Wow Hans you've actually got this at a 4.

BigHans
November 19th 2010



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I respect them, just not something I sit down to isten to.

Jethro42
November 19th 2010



12365 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Love comes to you, then after
Dreammmmm on on to the Heart of the Sunriiiiiiiiise
SHARP DISTANCE
HOWWW CAAAN THE WIIINNND WITH ITS ARMS ALL AROUND MEEEEEEE

Nagrarok
November 19th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Every time the organ solo in Roundabout comes in I put the volume up.

Nagrarok
November 19th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thanks man

KILL
November 19th 2010



70473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

review makes me cry

Digging: Gal Costa - Gal Costa

Nagrarok
November 19th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I keep telling you, writing isn't hard.

KILL
November 19th 2010



70473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yea but writing this good is btw cry in a review is awesome way not cry feeling sorry for myself

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
November 19th 2010



16134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Very empassioned review. Great work Nag; you never fail to impress.

Nagrarok
November 19th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Much appreciated Angel, and KILL of course. I'll be posting Close to the Edge tomorrow.



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