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YES Fragile (2003 German pressed 11-track digitally remastered CD album featuring the Bonus Recordings America and Roundabout [Early Rough Mix] housed in a digipak picture sleeve within an outer picture card slipcase)
I first picked this album up some 25 years ago on holiday in Guernsey and have been consistently wowed by it ever since. It truly shows a band that, with an average age of their early to mid 20s (incredible fact in comparison to today's out put by young scamps) effortlessly producing their arguably best album and then chasing that zenith ever since.
The album's opener, `Roundabout' is a catchy number, with a spring-driven very trebly Rickenbacker bass courtesy of Chris Squire. A staple of their live shows ever since I think, and a good intro what Yes are about. Followed by the first of an idea that was I think a success; each band member produces heir own track. Due to contractual reasons, Rick Wakeman plays some Brahms, which is pleasant, if slightly out of character with the rest of the album and makes one consider what he would have done if his hands weren't bound by red tape (he had only just joined the band at this point). Secondly, and more satisfactorily we have alto Jon Anderson makes a wonderful multi-tracked, if mantra-like song called `We Have Heaven'. A wonderful dreamy soundscape and very easy on the ears. This is thrown into sharp focus by `South Side of the Sky', a jagged, hard hitting effort with some wonderful piano in the middle, this song seems to match the wonderful painting on the cover of the album.
Next is a drum riff called `Five Percent for Nothing' (a title that was a dig at their previous manager) in which the band accompanies drummer Bill Bruford and has a very strong jazzy feel (Bill joined Yes, thinking it was a jazz band!), followed by another classic Yes track `Long Distance Runaround', again which sums up Yes rather nicely; strong vocals, accomplished playing and an imaginative feel.Read more ›
Fragile is the album that most fans would consider Yes' first real masterwork. It's predecessor, The Yes Album paved the way for Fragile in many ways with more intricate and complex musical passages. This album saw Yes become the standard bearers of the progressive rock 'movement'. Keyboardist Tony Kaye, who's style was always more of a rock and roll Hammond organ player a la Jon Lord, had been 'booted' out of the group and replaced by the flamboyant, curryholic caped crusader, Rick Wakeman. Wakeman's impact on Fragile would certainly be as important as Steve Howe's debut on The Yes Album. Not only was Wakeman a more skilful keyboard player than Kaye, he liked to experiment with different sounds and effects that would add a new dimension to Yes music. He also liked to use his classical training, and inject it with his own brand of rock. Fragile is an album that features not only group compositions, but also allows each member their own track, giving the listener a good idea of what styles and sounds that particular musician brings to Yes as a whole. This may seem a pretentious, self indulgent idea, but I think those 'solo' tracks provide good links to the bigger, more expansive group numbers. Once again, Yes fans need no introduction to the tracks on offer here. 'Roundabout' is a perennial crowd pleaser and legendary Yes track with Steve Howe alternating between acoustic and electric guitar, some smooth bass playing by Chris Squire, some pounding Bill Bruford drums, awesome vocal harmonies and some killer soloing from Wakeman. It's got the lot. 'South Side Of The Sky' is my favourite track on the album. A stark number about a group freezing to death on a mountain climbing expedition.Read more ›
I won't comment on the album - if you're a Yes fan all you need to know is "should I buy this". The answer is "Yes you should". The next question is "How soon can I have more of these please". I would REALLY love to have 90125 and the Yes Album in this format. I have two Queen audio DVDs and this Yes album. I have a good quality surround setup and as far as I'm concerned this is the most fun music listen I've heard in years. And the sound is just super crisp - this Yes album in particular is REALLY nicely done. Some nice artwork and features on the disc as well. I prefer the DTS surround version - the Dolby surround version is somehow more subtle but less lively. Plus you get 96Khz high resolution versions as well. Great value!
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It's great when something or someone you've known for so long (in this case around 25 years) can still surprise you. Well hearing Fragile on the DVD-A format did just that, bringing a new depth and clarity to an already excellent recording. The degree of presence provided by the higher resolution format brings the band into the room. The group pieces work best, with the title track and 'South Side of the Sky' serving as a showcase for the band's virtuosity and atmospheric vocal harmonies. A must buy for any Yes fan. Can't wait for more Yes releases on the format.
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Roger Dean hadn't quite perfected the logo and Yes hadn't quite completed their development with this fine, diverse album. Three tracks form the nucleus of 'Fragile', the best of which is the first, 'Roundabout'. This eight-minute gem displays the fluidity and energy that pervades the whole of their next album, 'Close to the Edge'. 'South Side of the Sky' and 'Heart of the Sunrise' are the other epics and both are very good. Neither, however, are as distinct in style. Steve Howe's electric guitar playing on the latter is, for example, deft but relatively anonymous.
Apart from 'Long Distance Runaround', the remaining tracks are cameos for each member of the band. Though brief, they're generally impressive. Rick Wakeman reveals the fruits of his classical training, Jon Anderson creates a typically celestial vocal arrangement and Bill Bruford gets his contribution out of the way almost apologetically. My favourites though are Chris Squire's unusual but engaging instrumental and Steve Howe's gorgeous acoustic piece.
The bonuses include a long interpretation of Paul Simon's 'America' which wouldn't have sounded out of place on the original album. 'Fragile' is one step away from Yes's peak and well worth buying if you like 'Close to the Edge'.
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