Written on April 24, 2013
Fragile contains 4 of Yes’ best songs; however, it is plagued by short solo songs from the individual band members.
Personally, I’m not a fan of having solo spots mixed in with the main songs on any album. To me, an album is a complete work that I listen to from front to back, and by mixing solo pieces in with the main songs (even if the solo pieces are good, which most are on Fragile), it typically puts a ripple in the flow of the album.
There are four key songs on Fragile. “Roundabout” is arguably the most well-known progressive rock song in history. It is rooted in progressive rock, but it has enough classic rock appeal to make it a crossover hit with both progressive and classic rock fans. “Southside of the Sky” is a great showcase for Yes’ technical proficiency. It has a heavy rock sound, but it also features a calming classical piano interlude mid-way through. “Long Distance Runaround” starts as a short traditional track, but Chris Squire’s solo spot “The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)” flows right out of it, forming a single 2-part song. “The Fish” section of the song is much more complex, and it is one of my favorite parts of the album, as it highlights the whole band jamming together. “The Fish” is also the only solo spot that belongs on the album. Although Chris Squire wrote it as his solo contribution to the album, it is a full band effort, so unlike the other solo spots, it doesn’t take away from the flow of the record.
“Heart of the Sunrise” is my favorite track on the record, and it is the album’s most intricate and complex song. It contains several different movements, twists, and turns. Every player shines, especially Chris Squire who creates one of the deepest most menacing bass riffs ever laid down to tape. “Heart of the Sunrise” is absolutely one of the best tracks in Yes’ catalog.
Ultimately, the solo pieces on Fragile put a murmur in the heartbeat of album and destroy its flow, but the other four songs are outstanding and make up the bulk of the record, so although Fragile is not perfect, it is a must own record for progressive rock fans.
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