Fragile

 

Fragile

Produced by Yes and Eddy Offord

Initially released on November 1, 1971.

UK CHART POSITION... #7
US CHART POSITION... #4    GOLD RECORD


 

REVIEW 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.

TRACK LISTING

  1. ROUNDABOUT    (Jon Anderson/Steve Howe)    8:29
  2. CANS AND BRAHMS (Extracts from Brahms' 4th Symphony in E Minor, Third Movement)    (arr. by Rick Wakeman)    1:35
  3. WE HAVE HEAVEN    (Jon Anderson)    1:30
  4. SOUTH SIDE OF THE SKY    (Jon Anderson/Chris Squire)    8:04
  5. FIVE PER CENT FOR NOTHING    (Bill Bruford)    0:35
  6. LONG DISTANCE RUNAROUND    (Jon Anderson)    3:33
  7. THE FISH (SCHINDLERIA PRAEMATURUS)    (Chris Squire)    2:35
  8. MOOD FOR A DAY    (Steve Howe)    2:57
  9. HEART OF THE SUNRISE    (Jon Anderson/Chris Squire/Bill Bruford)    10:34

CREDITS

JON ANDERSON -- vocals
BILL BRUFORD -- drums, percussion
STEVE HOWE -- electric & acoustic guitars, vocals
CHRIS SQUIRE -- bass guitars, vocals
RICK WAKEMAN -- organ, grand piano (electric piano and harpsichord), Mellotron, synthesizer
Eddy Offord -- engineer

RELEASE DATA

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK November 1, 1971 Atlantic LP/CS    
US January 4, 1972 Atlantic LP/CS/8T SD/CS/TP7211 gatefold cover w. booklet
UK 1982 Atlantic 2LP/CS 80002 repackaged w. Close to the Edge
US 1980s? Atlantic LP/CD/CS SD/CS19132 gatefold cover w. booklet
UK December 1986 Atlantic CD    
US 1993 Atlantic CD 82524 24k gold disc w. booklet
US August 16, 1994 Atlantic CD/CS 82667 digitally remastered