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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This review is specifically for the DVD-A version.
I've found it hard to find reviews just for the DVD-A or SACD versions of releases. There really should be a separate section for them. Hello Amazon...how about showcasing these great audio formats! Also, Amazon, is it too much to ask that you start listing kHz/bits ?!! It would sure be nice to know when looking at a potential purchase whats on the disc. Is it...
Published on May 15, 2007 by Robert W

versus
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Dissenting View on the DVD-A Edition
It's possible no one will ever see this, as Amazon's warped indexing system makes it almost impossible to FIND this DVD-A (it doesn't come up on ANY search for Yes OR Fragile, nor is it listed in Amazon's DVD-A section), but here goes...
I've read most of the reviews of this DVD-A piece; nowhere did I see mention of a very important fact: This is NOT the 5.1 mix of...
Published on April 26, 2003 by MagMusic


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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This review is specifically for the DVD-A version., May 15, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Fragile (DVD Audio)
I've found it hard to find reviews just for the DVD-A or SACD versions of releases. There really should be a separate section for them. Hello Amazon...how about showcasing these great audio formats! Also, Amazon, is it too much to ask that you start listing kHz/bits ?!! It would sure be nice to know when looking at a potential purchase whats on the disc. Is it 48kHz/24bits? Or 96kHz/24bits? etc etc etc. Come on now, help these formats out!

Anyway, the DVD-A is my 4th version of this album. Vinyl, Tape, CD, and now DVD-A. Holy audio nirvana folks! This is one of the best in my small, but continually growing DVD-A and SACD collection. If you loved this album in any of its forms and have the equipment to both play AND hear it....and you appreciate good sound.... you will be blown away. Phenomenal! A showcase of how good older recordings can and should sound. I'm partial to the 96kHz/24bit stereo track, but the 96kHz/24bit DVD-A surround is good too. I'm just a bit of a purist.

This is a benchmark for re-releasing older albums in a wonderful format. In our over compressed MP3 dumbed down world it's too bad more attention isn't paid to either of the formats. SACD or DVD-A.
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66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable technical ability balanced with warmth and emotion, December 18, 2006
By 
Jeffrey J.Park (Pennsylvania, USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Fragile (Audio CD)
This 1972 album showed Yes starting to move even further into the realm of progressive rock and features the classic lineup of Chris Squire (Rickenbacker bass, vocals); Rick Wakeman (Synthesizers, mellotron, Hammond organ, piano); Steve Howe (acoustic and electric guitars, vocals); Bill Bruford (drums; percussion); and Jon Anderson (lead vocals; guitar). I think it goes without saying that this lineup would produce some of the finest material released by Yes and was comprised of virtuosos. Certainly, all of this is very much present on Fragile, which I personally consider a showcase of staggering instrumental skill that is very warm and inviting somehow.

Because of contractual problems largely stemming from Rick Wakeman, Fragile consists of three band compositions and several smaller solo pieces. The three band compositions are excellent and include the alternately ripping and melodramatic Heart of the Sunrise (their response to 21st Century Schizoid Man (King Crimson, 1969); South Side of the Sky (about a failed mission to Antarctica I think); and the classic piece Roundabout. The solo pieces vary in quality and include the excellent Long Distance Runaround/The Fish (Jon wrote Long Distance Runaround, while The Fish is a Squire tour de force on the electric bass with percussion by Bill); Rick Wakeman's Cans and Brahms (extracts from Brahms's 4th Symphony in E Minor Third Movement performed on an arsenal of synthesizers) (Rick did not like Cans and Brahms at all); Steve Howe's excellent acoustic solo piece Mood for a Day; Bill Bruford's painfully short and unfinished sounding instrumental piece Five Percent for Nothing (a slam on the band manager apparently); and finally, Jon Anderson's We Have Heaven. As a bassist and avid worshipper of Squire, The Fish is hands down my favorite, although I generally like all of the solo pieces.

Overall, the music on Fragile is simply amazing and has all of the emotional punch (some might say melodrama) of tracks like Survival (1969); and Starship Trooper (1971), yet with the instrumental sophistication that would mark all of the 1970s work. Some very melodramatic moments can be heard on Heart of Sunrise, which is an absolutely super 10'34"; and South Side of the Sky is certainly not without drama. However, what really got me when I first listened to this album over 25 years ago (and to this very day) is the playing - these guys were in a class by themselves when it came to sheer virtuosity. Although the playing can get overwhelming at times, it is nicely leavened by softer, acoustic passages (on guitar and piano) and Jon Anderson's high pitched vocals. Along with some unbelievable vocal harmonies, this makes for one amazing listening experience.

With respect to the cover art (the first with Roger Dean), I feel that the painting of the tiny and "fragile" world on the front cover is very warm and intimate despite the planet being surrounded by the cold vacuum of outer space. Of course, on the back cover this peaceful world is depicted as breaking up - a very different scene from the front cover. The neat thing is that the breaking up of the planet was reiterated on the live Yessongs album. As I recall, I used to stare at the "large" cover art on the Fragile LP and it was very much a part of the listening experience. Then again, the cover art was very important for me on all of the Yes albums (even Drama (1980)) and is something I feel compelled to mention when I review any of their works.

The remastering on this album is incredible and (sort of) takes me back to the vinyl days. The booklet is excellent and features the original album artwork; a ton of liner notes; and photos of the band. Although the liner notes are pretty much old hat for the typical Yes freak (such as myself), they should prove informative to lots of folks. The excellent bonus track America was a very nice addition that was originally recorded for the 1972 Atlantic sampler LP "Age of Atlantic". Although I did not own this LP, I did own the compilation album "Yesterdays", which also featured America. The other bonus track includes an early rough mix of Roundabout that really does not add much.

All in all, an incredible Yes album that is very highly recommended along with all of their works from 1971 -1977.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The 1972 Classic Yes Release Finally Sounds Terrific!, May 16, 2003
By 
highway_star (Hallandale, Florida United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fragile (Audio CD)
Released in 1972, "Fragile" is a progressive rock masterpiece that should be in all rock lovers cd collection. As excellent an album as it was, it produced just one major hit in "Roundabout". I remember hearing the song played repeatedly on radio back then and never got sick of it. The entire album is full of excellent, well crafted songs such as "Heart Of The Sunrise", "Long Distance Runaround", "South Side Of The Sky" and the above mentioned "Roundabout". Of note, this album was also keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman's debut with the band and there's a definate classical influence in the songs with the addition of Wakeman (listen to "Cans And Brahms"). This special edition of "Fragile" contains two bonus tracks in "America" (the full 10 min. version) and an extra version of "Roundabout" (Early Rough Mix) which is similar to the original version except that the vocals and harmonizing are more pronounced and the arrangement is different in certain parts. There's also a thirteen page booklet included which tells about the songs on the album as well as some nice color photos of the members of the band. The digipack that holds the disc is also very attractive. Soundwise this new remastered version is far superior to the early 90's remaster in that the sound is cleaner, more mid-range, bottom end and punch has been added. If you enjoy seventy's classic rock such as Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Genesis, King Crimson, etc. "Fragile" is a must have. Highly Recommended.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive symphonic prog album, September 19, 2003
By 
Michael Topper (Pacific Palisades, California United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fragile (Audio CD)
Although "Close To The Edge" beats it out for the crown of best Yes album, and repeated listens to "Relayer" reveal countless layers and subtleties, "Fragile" is the album I would recommend as a starting point for Yes--and since Yes is the definitive symphonic prog act, it provides an excellent starting point for prog in general. Although the five brief solo pieces scattered in-between the epics are frequently thought to have made it sound a little disjointed, every track is strong, with the one exception of Wakeman's pleasantly dull "Cans And Brahms" (its brevity is, however, an advantage in this case!).
"Roundabout" is the group's most overplayed track and one even the most devoted fans might get tired of after the ten-zillionth listen, but fresh ears cannot deny its brillliant composition, playing and production, with stunning harmonies and definitive guitar and keyboard solos. Speaking of stunning harmonies, "We Have Heaven" bursts from the speakers like a postcard from above
and will have you singing along in no-time. Offsetting its optimism is the darker "South Side Of The Sky", oddly overlooked
by the group over the years (apparently it was too difficult even for them to play live!) and thus a very fresh listen. The howling wind and footsteps (reminiscent of Pink Floyd) presage a monster guitar riff that carries the track, although the jazzy piano/vocal interlude is perhaps the highlight. At times during the playing of this album one is tempted to think that this is the direction The Beatles may have gone in had they continued with the experimentation of "Abbey Road".
Bruford's 30-second "5% For Nothing" acts as a novelty introduction to "Long Distance Runaround", in which Yes implants their unique musical approach onto the conventional three-minute pop song. Lyrically, this is one of the album's strongest statements, being a subtly phrased questioning of religion. The song melds with Squire's pulsing bass experiment "The Fish", in which he overdubs dozens of basses (fuzz, wah-wah, both, you name it) on top of each other playing variations on a kinetic riff that rocks extremely hard. Not only will one be dazzled by Squire's prowess, but the appearance of a more straightforward rocker is exactly what the album needs at this point. Indeed, I'm tempted to name "The Fish" one of the greatest rock instrumentals ever. Howe's moody, Spanish acoustic guitar piece "Mood For A Day" follows, influenced heavily by Segovia and very tastefully played with a "less is more" approach unusual for this genre of prog. That is not the case with the closing "Heart Of The Sunrise", however, which remains my all-time favorite Yes work and one of the best prog songs ever (note how this album has the best of everything--best pop song, best instrumental, best epics...). The peaks and valleys in this song are quite extreme and frame what is, at its heart, actually a simple ballad with an emotional lyric that paints abstract impressions with words. The way the group embellish this "simple ballad" to classical proportions, playing contrapuntal bits and extended keyboard variations that twist and turn against each other along with Howe's screaming metal-ish opening guitar riff, is like a picture-perfect advertisement for the virtues of progressive rock. As a pop song, "Heart Of The Sunrise" would have been charming but minor. As a ten-minute epic, the track manages to touch on all moods and emotions, while not a single note is wasted; the themes are all carefully composed and interwoven into each other for maximum atmospheric impact. When a reprise of "We Have Heaven" bursts in and fades out just as quickly at the close, one is tempted to simply press "play" all over again.
Yes' sound crafted here is like the perfect natural buzz; endorphins are sparked and heightened virtually every second this CD is in the machine. Indeed, I have at times sung along to this in the car with friends and had a blast. Wakeman is almost certainly the definitive factor that made this a step above the already brilliant "Yes Album"--his virtuosic (what else?)keyboard layering colors each track ingeniously, which is why it is a little puzzling that his own solo contribution sounds like background muzak--although all of the members seem to be challenging each other here. The bonus tracks are not too rare but it is great to have the full-length "America" added to this collection, it fits better here than it would on "Close To The Edge" (and the single version is a bonus track on the latter album anyway). "Close To The Edge" may be even tighter and more complex, with just three epic tracks that all complement each other, but "Fragile"'s bits and pieces all fit endearingly together as well and in my opinion this album is only one miniscule smidgen below its successor in quality, and certainly the most fun. Even if this is the first Yes album you ever purchase, its accessibility (especially for people not usually into prog) may make this the most-played, even after decades.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rhino Remaster of Yes Classic, December 27, 2004
By 
This review is from: Fragile (Audio CD)
As many should know by now, many classic albums in the Yes catalogue are remastered, yet again. First, we got the remasters on the Atlantic label, and as of present, the Rhino label is dishing out the remastered treatment. The Atlantic remasters didn't feature bonus tracks, but the Rhino versions do, although for the most part, the bonus tracks are disposable...or at least, they work for small curiosities.

1972's _Fragile_ should always be considered a classic in the progressive rock genre, not just because the musicianship is virtuosic, tasteful and unique, but because the majority of it is catchy and accessible as well - something that's very rare in progressive rock as a whole.

Jon Anderson's distinctly artistic upper-register, Chris Squire's crunchy basslines, Steve Howe's floating guitar leads, Bill Bruford's tasteful drumming and Rick Wakeman's versatile keyboard work here come together to make a unique, tantalizing brand of music. The album starts off with "Roundabout," which exemplifies what I was saying in the opening paragraph. This track is ultra-catchy and addictive. The grooves on here (mostly exemplified by Bill's drums and Chris' bass) are hard to resist. Definitely a classic that has aged, and will seemingly continue to age nicely.

Next comes the first of five solo pieces: The first two of the five being my absolute favorites. "Cans And Brahms" is Rick Wakeman's impressive arrangement of bits found in the Allegro giocoso (third movement) of Brahms' 4th symphony. He did an excellent job on this (and for the record, Brahms is a favorite of mine amongst many classical composers, and I've heard and own his 4th symphony.) Next comes Jon Anderson's "We Have Heaven," which is a cerebral piece showcasing his vocal artistry. If you listen carefully, you'll find seven separate (but overdubbed) vocal parts by Jon on here. On the seventh one, he is heard saying "yes." The following track called "South Side of The Sky" seems to be a standout amongst Yes' many epic-length tracks. There seems to be a bluesy, down-home atmosphere to it, especially in Steve Howe's fluid guitar licks. While it's indeed spacy, it's not as otherworldly as most of their other epics, and seems to maintain a bit of earthiness that some of the other epics didn't.

"Five Per Cent For Nothing" is a short track showcasing Bruford's drumming ability, but, don't expect it to be a virtuoso display, as it seems more like a steady groove-oriented workout. "Long Distance Runaround" seems to showcase a slight country influence, mostly heard in Steve's guitar. Other than that, the track is a short little ditty. "The Fish" is Chris Squire's bassline workout, which plays out in something of a 7/4 rhythm, while several overdubbed bass samples are exemplified. Quite a nice track. Catchy and addictive as well. "Mood For A Day" is Steve's acoustic workout. Quite virtuosic, atmospheric and tasteful. The last track called "Heart of The Sunrise" starts out with what may have been Yes' most heavy and aggressive moment up until _Relayer_. The crushing attack borders on classic metal. That theme plays out quite a few times within the 3 1/2 minutes of the instrumental opening, which then gives way to a host of trippy atmospherics and Jon Anderson's faraway-sounding vocals.

There isn't much more that I can say. This is definitely a classic in Yes' catalog. There isn't another album quite like this one in their catalog. Highly recommended.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Yes' Best Works, July 2, 2004
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Fragile (DVD Audio)
The reviewers below really hit it dead on: this is not Yes' most cohesive or best album, but it still is one of the essential albums in any rock collection. Every member of Yes is incredibly talented: Jon Anderson's raspy voice sounds like two people singing at the same time; Chris Squire plays bass as if it was a lead instrument; Steve Howe's guitar at times rings with classical underpinnings and at other times rips out overwhelming lightning fast rock riffs; Wakeman's only peer on keyboards is Keith Emerson; and I suspect Bill Bruford is one of the few drummers who could possibly anchor this much talent.
Without reviewing the songs individually, the music is some of the most complex to be produced by a mainstream rock band with extended instrumental passages which paint great musical landscapes. The lyrics are pure poetry, the meaning of which is not always ascertainable. In a way this enhances the band in that it allows Jon Anderson's voice to be a musical instrument communicating pure emotion without the necessity of resorting to the meaning of the words he is voicing.
Amazingly, 30 years after this album was released, YES! can still fill the 2500 seat Universal Amputheater in Los Angeles, with seats going for an average of $... a pop. That says a lot for the quality of the musicians and their compositions. And that is why this album is essential to a music collection.
Why buy the DVD-Audio?
CDs are harsh and brittle. They produce listening fatigue in minutes, and have always left me fiddling with the trebble in a feeble attempt correct the uncorrectable sound. Nothing worked. So, for serious music appreciation, I needed to resort to the long playing vinyl album. These have their own problems such as limited dynamic range, transient distortion, poor pressing quality, tape hiss and noise, scratches and thousands of pops and ticks, rumble, wow and flutter, and expensive playback equipment which needed care and tuning. And worst of all, I had to get up to flip the album half-way through!
DVD-Audio and SACDs fix these problems. Initially, I put on the CD of Yes' "Close to the Edge" just to assure myself that CDs aren't for extended listening. I then played the DVD-A and the vinyl of Fragile at the same time and flipped back and forth. The stereo track on the DVD-A revealed instruments which were burried on the vinyl: Steve Howe's guitar has a beautiful warmth to it which is missing on the vinyl -- the ring and sustain of the guitar notes at the beginning of Roundabout held on longer; the echo from the room in which Anderson was singing became more apparent; Wakeman's synthesizers sounded crystaline without harshness; and you could hear with clarity the wood of Bruford's sticks as they hit the rim of a drum. The 5.1 track reveals even more, most notably in "Cans and Brahms" when Wakeman hits a deep bass organ peddle and the room vibrates.
A must have album. If you have a DVD player, I also recommend Yes Live at the House of Blues and Keys to Ascension.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic album gets a fine remaster, February 4, 2008
By 
finulanu ""the mysterious"" (Here, there, and everywhere) - See all my reviews
Hey, cool! They gave arguably the best progressive rock ever made (Okay, so I've heard, like, fifteen that weren't made by Yes) - and one of rock's all-time classics - a reissue job, and a good one too! This review is based on the original, but the remaster is most definitely worth investigation. Not only do you get the whole original album, which is fantastic, you also get two bonus tracks: an early version of "Roundabout", and the group's glorious reworking of the Simon & Garfunkel hit "America". You know how the original song is a nice little folk-rock hippie travelogue ditty? Well, here it's remade as a full-out, ten-minute progressive rocker. And it's amazing. Don't ask me why it wasn't put on the original album. So anyway, the original content on the album is... well, let me go over it. The two best songs are the two eight-minute, riff-filled, multi-part epics. First is "Roundabout". It starts off with just Steve Howe on acoustic guitar, and you know what? I like that a lot. Then Jon Anderson comes in with his nonsense lyrics, and newcomer Rick Wakeman adds his trademarked million-and-a-half kick-butt synthesizers, and then it starts rockin', and then it gets funky, and there's this beautiful Jon Anderson choir bit. Then it's back to the acoustic guitar! Oh yeah, they also restate the acoustic guitar theme about halfway in. Anyway, the other is "South Side of the Sky", a dark song about freezing to death that starts off with stunning heavy-metal riffage from Steve Howe before moving into this awesome instrumental section where Wakeman stretches out on an acoustic piano, Chris Squire plays a great bass behind him, and Jon does another Jon Anderson choir. I like that. And then, once more, the group rocks out. And not just in a "relatively, for Yes" rocking out - that stuff's heavy enough to be Led Zeppelin. I love that song. And you know what? Even if it were just those two songs and a bunch of complete crap, I'd still recommend this album. Thankfully, though, it's not. For one, each of the band members gets their own little spotlights, and they're a lot of fun. "Cans and Brahms" is a weird synthesizer adaptation of a Brahms symphony, and is probably the weakest song on this album, but let us not forget that it's still a Rick Wakeman keyboard solo. "Five Percent for Nothing", a funky drum solo, isn't exactly great either. But put together, those songs total two minutes. And, like I said, they're fun. But I love Jon's "Jon choir" "We Have Heaven". And surprisingly enough, someone chanting "Tell the moon-dog, tell the march-hare" overdubbed several times can sound good when done properly. Even better is Steve Howe's gorgeous classical guitar showpiece "Mood for a Day", and I like Chris Squire's funky theme song "Fish", too. He takes his bass and overdubs it several times, and it sounds like a guitar in places. "Long Distance Runaround" is the only real pop song here, and it's a cool tune, a jumpy, jerky proto new-wave track. Out of the full-length songs, only "Heart of the Sunrise" disappoints. I certainly do like it, especially the riff-filled introduction. But it never matches that introduction - there are interesting passages in it, sure, but not enough for ten minutes. Whatever, there's a lot of good keyboard playing all over it, and the chemistry between the band is fantastic. This really represents a peak for Yes, along with Close to the Edge, Yessongs, and The Yes Album, and it just may be the best album the group ever did.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Progressive rock - made accessible, June 18, 2003
By 
This review is from: Fragile (Audio CD)
_Fragile_ should always be considered a classic in the progressive rock genre, not just because the musicianship is virtuosic, tasteful and unique, but because the majority of it is catchy and accessible as well - something that's very rare in progressive rock as a whole.
Jon Anderson's distinctly artistic upper-register, Chris Squire's crunchy basslines, Steve Howe's floating guitar leads, Bill Bruford's tasteful drumming and Rick Wakeman's versatile keyboard work here come together to make a unique, tantalizing brand of music. The album starts off with "Roundabout," which exemplifies what I was saying in the opening paragraph. This track is ultra-catchy and addictive. The grooves on here (mostly exemplified by Bill's drums and Chris' bass) are hard to resist. Definitely a classic that has aged, and will seemingly continue to age nicely.
Next comes the first of five solo pieces: The first two of the five being my absolute favorites. "Cans And Brahms" is Rick Wakeman's impressive arrangement of bits found in the Allegro giocoso (third movement) of Brahms' 4th symphony. He did an excellent job on this (and for the record, Brahms is a favorite of mine amongst many classical composers, and I've heard and own his 4th symphony.) Next comes Jon Anderson's "We Have Heaven," which is a cerebral piece showcasing his vocal artistry. If you listen carefully, you'll find seven separate (but overdubbed) vocal parts by Jon on here. On the seventh one, he is heard saying "yes." The following track called "South Side of The Sky" seems to be a standout amongst Yes' many epic-length tracks. There seems to be a bluesy, down-home atmosphere to it, especially in Steve Howe's fluid guitar licks. While it's indeed spacy, it's not as otherworldly as most of their other epics, and seems to maintain a bit of earthiness that some of the other epics didn't.
"Five Per Cent For Nothing" is a short track showcasing Bruford's drumming ability, but, don't expect it to be a virtuoso display, as it seems more like a steady groove-oriented workout. "Long Distance Runaround" seems to showcase a slight country influence, mostly heard in Steve's guitar. Other than that, the track is a short little ditty. "The Fish" is Chris Squire's bassline workout, which plays out in something of a 7/4 rhythm, while several overdubbed bass samples are exemplified. Quite a nice track. Catchy and addictive as well. "Mood For A Day" is Steve's acoustic workout. Quite virtuosic, atmospheric and tasteful. The last track called "Heart of The Sunrise" starts out with what may have been Yes' most heavy and aggressive moment up until _Relayer_. The crushing attack borders on classic metal. That theme plays out quite a few times within the 3 1/2 minutes of the instrumental opening, which then gives way to a host of trippy atmospherics and Jon Anderson's faraway-sounding vocals.
There isn't much more that I can say. This is definitely a classic in Yes' catalog. In a weird sort of way, I could go as far to say that this is Yes' strongest album (of course, no one can claim to know what is and what isn't anything regarding appreciation of any kind.) There isn't another album quite like this one in their catalog. Highly recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aural bliss--pure and simple, this is classic Yes, August 6, 2006
By 
Argyris (The universe) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fragile (Audio CD)
There were two albums released by Yes in the year 1972--the stellar `Close to the Edge' and this earlier effort, `Fragile.' Yes--at this point consisting of Jon Anderson on lead vocals, Bill Bruford on drums, Steve Howe on guitars, Chris Squire on bass, and the newly-recruited Rick Wakeman on keyboards--had just scored a decent breakthrough with their third album, `The Yes Album,' in the previous year. They had actually broken the charts in America, and they had finally reached and fortified what would be their characteristic sound in the years and albums to come.

So where does `Fragile' fit into all that? The original nine tracks on `Fragile' are widely considered quintessential progressive rock, a template from which myriad later acts would spawn. From start to finish, `Fragile' plays like well-oiled machinery (even with its occasional catches and blips), and its main material--the longer suites, mostly--demonstrates the level of maturity the band had ultimately achieved by this time in their collective career. Oh, and `Fragile' also brings to the table a little something called "Roundabout," which may well be the band's most famous song ever.

What are we waiting for? The songs (in detail):

1. "Roundabout" - Well, well. Do I really need to comment upon this one? Unlike many popular, therefore overplayed songs, this one just doesn't get old. Play it as many times as you like, and it still captivates. Right from the onset, with Steve Howe's guitar harmonics, one can hear the innovation and compositional brilliance of the band. And as the introduction moves on into the body of the piece, an irresistible lick makes itself heard again and again, though it never grows tiresome. The middle section of the piece, with its fantastically arranged vocals, inspires pure awe, and the soft and pensive section which follows adds a much-appreciated dynamic contrast. The Mellotron flutes are particularly nice, though of course they only play a few poly-chords. What follows is one of Rick Wakeman's most spectacular solo escapades (though of course the one in "Close to the Edge" is his supreme solo effort), a repetition of earlier parts of the song, and the riveting conclusion, replete in layered, overdubbed vocals and presented with minimal backing to enhance the effect. A simple flourish by Steve Howe ends the piece in understatement. In a word, stunning.

2. "Cans And Brahms" - This is Rick Wakeman's showcase song on the album (each member gets a chance to show off in solo). It's not bad, though it's not original. It's basically an arrangement of various Brahms melodies, played on slightly unconventional instrumentation. The work demonstrates for all to see Wakeman's peerless technical ability, but I do wish he (or the band in care of him) would have come up with something original. Still, though, it's short enough that it goes by before it overstays its welcome.

3. "We Have Heaven" - This is Jon Anderson's chance to shine. Here, in a vivid, multilayered arrangement, he sings a bunch of nonsense, albeit in impressive fashion. Though I respect the tremendous skill required to have laid down such a track, I personally find this work insufferably annoying and repetitive. It did not make it onto my iPod.

4. "South Side Of The Sky" - Ah, here we are with the second of the epic pieces. This one is a great deal darker and more angular than "Roundabout," and its lyrics allegedly deal with a failed Antarctic expedition where the explorers end up dying. Though with Yes, you can never be sure. Even so, this song is a true masterpiece of instrumentation, beginning with a brumal blast of synthesized Antarctic wind (apparently previous editions of the album also included footsteps, which have now been moved to the end of the previous track, where I have never heard them because I can't stand to listen to the third track to completion), and--in that weird Yes-esque manner--it rocks. The middle section is a dark, piano-dominated piece of disjointed yet substantial clockwork, culminating in a neutral vocal section which might be representative of the gates of heaven opening for the doomed explorers. After a return to the motifs from the beginning of the song, the work ends on a fadeout into the same howling wind with which it began.

5. "Five Per Cent For Nothing" - It might take you longer to read this description than it would for you to listen to the song. It's really that short--around 35 seconds or so. Bruford's showcase, it's a little drum pattern, repeated twice, with instrumentation from the rest of the band thrown in for good measure. I guess they figured 35 seconds is about five percent of a song, so that's how they arrived at this title. It makes a nice little introduction to the next track, so it works.

6. "Long Distance Runaround" - This is the infamous pop monster that, nonetheless, maintains the progressive feel so integral to Yes. It's pleasant to listen to, and it's one of the shorter of Yes's full-band involvement songs up to this point. The beginning line, with Steve Howe's expert guitar work running in parallel across the stereo field, is a sound to behold. Once Chris Squire enters the fray, things get really interesting. This song has one of the most enduring bass lines ever conceived, even among Yes songs. Squire is among the most innovative of bassists, and his trademark, treble-heavy tone really helps the mood of this piece. And, of course, Jon Anderson is up in the stratosphere singing away about nothing. But then, Yes is music where, though very pretty in their own right, the lyrics are unimportant. Anderson's lyrics paint pictures of emotion, they don't broadcast it of their own volition. In this he was one of music's greatest poets.

7. "The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)" - Here's a shocker: All the instrumentation that isn't drums is performed by Chris Squire's bass. What an original concept! If only the band had expounded upon what they had discovered here, they could really have come up with some interesting material. Even so, this is by far one of the most interesting of tracks from `Fragile.' "Long Distance Runaround" segues into this track, so "The Fish" is akin to a separate movement of the previous track. Oh, and yes, they do sing the words "Schindleria Praematurus" at the end of the song. Why? I don't know. Obviously it's the Latin name for a fish, but as to why it was chosen to name this song, I have no clue.

8. "Mood For A Day" - It's Howe's turn up to bat, with this showcase song. I never though much of "Clap" (often mislabeled "The Clap" to the horror and extreme annoyance of Steve Howe), and I suppose that holds true for this song as well. Steve Howe is a brilliant guitarist, probably one of the two best in the history of the art, and were I myself a guitarist I might find this track wholly more interesting. As a keyboardist, I probably listen to "Cans And Brahms" a great deal more than most `Fragile' listeners. There's nothing wrong with "Mood For A Day;" I'm just not qualified to evaluate it objectively.

9. "Heart Of The Sunrise" - Ah. Bliss. Here we have the ultimate closer to an exemplary album. Beginning with a bang with an intriguing instrumental jam, this theme is then explored for two-and-a-half minutes before the song begins, very softly, yet never relenting until it reaches its climax. And what a climax it is! Anderson sings a high D (the one just above tuning A-440) which, when immersed in a chord is nothing special, naked and at the high point of a song is nothing short of breathtaking (even though he doesn't hold it and it sounds a little forced). Jon's voice can go much, much higher, but this particular note is so well placed that it says, commandingly, that the listener has arrived at the ultimate climax of the song.

It's just too bad that this isn't really the end. There is a return of that energetic instrumental jam, then a pregnant silence. Then, after about six seconds or so, a reprise of that ghastly third track, "We Have Heaven" bursts out of nowhere and fades out the track. The idea was brilliant, but since I hated the song the first time, I really wasn't particularly thrilled to hear it again, especially tacked on to one of the best songs on the album. At least that pause is long enough to where I can just skip the ending. I considered altering the track before putting it on my iPod (basically removing that ending section), but I couldn't bring myself to desecrate a progressive rock masterpiece in that manner, even if I don't agree with the way it was arranged.

The bonus tracks don't really add much (the rough version of "Roundabout" actually has a nicer overall sound--a little less polished and perfect--but everybody except Bill Bruford and Chris Squire makes at least one glaring mistake), but, contrary to the bloody murder some reviewers have been screaming, these extra tracks don't destroy the album, either. I believe these people have never experimented with that little button on their compact disc players that is labeled "Stop."

This particular edition of the work has sterling sound quality. Rhino produces consistently good results with whatever it remasters, and the Yes catalogue has been no exception. While the 1994 remaster of 'Close to the Edge' by Joe Gastwirt had some qualities that were superior to the 2003 release, in the case of `Fragile' there is simply no comparison: The Rhino tramples the original Atlantic/Gastwirt release. Not only has the volume been maximized, everything is clearer yet fuller, and the instrumental entrances in particular are superb on the Rhino edition. Gastwirt's work always seemed to be a little more apologetic, where things just sort of slid into place. The metallic elements of the drums sound brighter on the Rhino release, yet they are clearer and more distinct as well. Each cymbal hit is precise and well-sculpted (even modern recordings tend to mush these together in a continuous general haze). The packaging is very nice, the slip cover/digipack reminds a little of the original vinyl release, and the expanded liner notes/pictures offer insight into the making of this album.

Overall, I would recommend `Fragile' to just about anyone, particularly those new to Yes. In this instance, there is nothing wrong with this release that would make it "for newbies." On the contrary, this album offers a vivid picture of just what made Yes the masterful progressive rock band it was, in a manner that is akin to on-the-job training. This album was made to make music, not to indoctrinate or placate fans. That, in part, is what makes Yes so special: They made music first, and radio-friendly music only if it turned out that way.

Thank God for `Fragile,' or there might never have been a `Close to the Edge.'
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Fragile" - A Yes Classic., January 7, 2005
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This review is from: Fragile (Audio CD)
"Fragile" is Yes's fourth album and is the one where all the pieces of the puzzle fell together for the band. This was the first Yes album to feature its now classic line-up of singer Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Bill Bruford and keyboardist Rick Wakeman. While it wasn't the first Yes album to feature elements of what would be known as progressive rock, "Fragile" was the first album where the band's progressive asthetic gelled into seamless perfection.

While not technically a concept album, "Fragile" does flow as an effortless whole and alternates between band-performed material as well as five individual pieces highlighting each members virtuosity.

The group material consists of four pieces which have since become timeless Yes standards. "Roundabout" is the song that introduced many people to the band and was Yes's first big-selling hit. Chris Squire's almost-funk-like bassline alongside Steve Howe's acoustic guitar harmonics and Bill Bruford's driving beat steer this piece with stellar vocal harmonies from Jon Anderson with Howe and Squire. Even over 30 years later, this track still encompasses everything good about Yes in its 8-minute running time.

"South Side Of the Sky" is a forceful epic piece which features a haunting middle section showcasing Rick Wakeman's stellar piano work.

"Long Distance Runaround" is a short catchy pop-rock piece that has a slight Beatles-influence to it. Along with "Roundabout", this track has also become one of the band's best-known songs.

The last of the group material as well as the album's closer is the dynamic tour-de-force "The Heart Of The Sunrise". Throughout its nearly 11-minutes, this track runs the gamaut of solid group interplay, shifting time signatures and musical moods. Its opening and closing sections are probably the closest thing Yes has come to playing what many would consider heavy metal. Great work from Howe and Squire here as well.

As for the individual pieces, Rick Wakeman is the first to be showcased with "Cans and Brahms". This piece is an adaptation of the third movement of Johannes Brahms' fourth symphony and is performed entirely on keyboards. The overall sound of this piece isn't too different from that of Walter/Wendy Carlos and the "Switched-On Bach" recordings.

"We Have Heaven" is a short vocal tour-de-force by Jon Anderson in which he overdubbed all the vocal parts himself. While it's not an acapella piece (the band members do back Jon on this piece), Jon's vocals are at the forefront here and display his full voice range.

"Five Percent for Nothing" is a 35-second piece composed by Bill Bruford in which he along with the rest of the band play a brief passage taken directly from a short percussion rudiment. The overall style of this piece is rhythmically complex yet abstract at the same time.

"The Fish" is Chris Squire's showcase in which every part (except for the vocals and drums) was performed using different ranges of the bass guitar. The track would cement Squire into the hall of fame of being one of rock music's greatest bass players as it shows off his versitile and unique style which is at the heart of every Yes song.

The solo material concludes with a mellow acoustic guitar piece from Steve Howe entitled "Mood For A Day". This piece is an unintruding relaxed work which showcases Steve's virtuosity on nylon-string guitar. A truly contemplative piece of music.

The remastered CD on Rhino Records not only features enhanced artwork and new liner notes, it also includes two bonus tracks. "America" is the band's 10-minute take on the Simon and Garfunkel classic making it their very own. Steve Howe really shines here. An early rough mix of "Roundabout" is included as well. While the track is essentially the same as the final album version, there are several noticable differences. Play them side by side and compare them. It is quite fascinating.

Since its release in 1972, "Fragile" has become the ultimate Yes album for many. The album serves as an excellent introduction to the band and offers a wide range of musicality and moods. After this album, Yes would delve even further into epic proportions with their progressive classics "Close To The Edge", "Tales From Topographic Oceans" and "Relayer". The first fruits of these efforts lay here on "Fragile" however. With their musical trademark now in place, "Fragile" would prove that Yes were well on their way.

An Essential Album!!!
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Fragile
Fragile by Yes (Audio CD - 2003)
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