Fragile (Yes album)
|Studio album by Yes|
|Released||26 November 1971 (UK)
4 January 1972 (US)
|Recorded||September 1971 at Advision Studios, London|
|Producer||Yes and Eddie Offord|
Fragile is the fourth studio album by English progressive rock band Yes, released on Atlantic Records. It is the first to feature keyboardist Rick Wakeman, who replaced Tony Kaye in 1971, and cover art by Roger Dean, who would design many of the band's records.
Upon its release in the UK in November 1971, Fragile hit #7 on the UK Album Chart, which would prove its highest position. It later reached #4 on the US Billboard 200 during a stay of 46 weeks. Its release in the US was held back for two months because of the chart momentum of their previous record, The Yes Album.
Work on the material began while Tony Kaye was still in the band. In a 2006 interview, he said, "I did rehearse Fragile before I left. I left in the middle." Four of the nine tracks feature full performances by the new line-up with Rick Wakeman, three of which were of eight minutes length or longer. Its best known track, "Roundabout", was released in the US in an edited 3:27 version as a single and peaked at #13 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart in April 1972. Wakeman contributed to the writing of "South Side of the Sky" and "Heart of the Sunrise" by adding piano interludes to both songs, but wasn't credited because of contractual conflicts. He was instead promised more money by Atlantic studio executives, which he claims he never saw.
The remaining five tracks showcase the individual band members. "Cans and Brahms" is an arrangement by Wakeman of the third movement from the Fourth Symphony in E minor by Johannes Brahms, his utilization of synthesizers adapted to classical works in vogue at the time, as evidenced in efforts by Wendy Carlos.[original research?] Jon Anderson sings all the vocal parts in "We Have Heaven", a technique later used on his solo album Olias of Sunhillow. The initial, overlapping lyric is "Tell the Moon Dog, Tell the March Hare". Bill Bruford's "Five Per Cent for Nothing" derives its instrumental passages from the rhythm line, while "The Fish" and "Mood for a Day" serve almost entirely as bass and guitar solo pieces, respectively. Howe considers the writing of the piece a turning point in its incorporation of classical Spanish influenced flamenco music. His contribution to Queen's song "Innuendo" is an example of this.[original research?]
Fragile has drawn comparison to Emerson, Lake & Palmer's self-titled album in that it consists of a series of semi-solo pieces and long epics concerning the whole band but with both albums, critics have complained that "the long pieces and short pieces never cohere, and the album becomes something of a jumble (Tony Gifford, Endless Enigma)."
Recorded in September 1971 at Advision Studios in London, the album is an analog multi-track production. Standard multi-track methods were employed, such as overdubbing, including a flipping of the master tape to record the backwards piano, cued by Howe's guitar, for the beginning of "Roundabout".
The cover art design by Roger Dean depicts a tiny planet on the front. On the back, the planet has begun to break up and the population is escaping in a wooden space glider[original research?] – a concept that was to inspire Anderson's Olias of Sunhillow, as well as the film Floating Islands. The artwork of Yessongs would continue the narrative.
The LP's accompanying promotional booklet contains two additional Dean paintings; the front cover depicts five different creatures huddled under a root system; the back cover depicts a person climbing up a rock formation. The inside of the promotional booklet consists of several different photographs of the band members, with an individual page dedicated to each member interspersed with smaller Dean illustrations and photographs of their wives (including Jenny Anderson and Nikki Squire) and children. Anderson's page contained a short poem, while Wakeman's contained a list of acknowledgements, including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, The White Bear pub in Hounslow and Brentford F.C..
Reception and reissues
|Rolling Stone (1972)||(positive)|
|Rolling Stone (2003)|||
In 1993, a gold edition of Fragile was released. Listeners reported a problem with the first printing of this edition. The track "Heart of the Sunrise" omitted the reprise of "We Have Heaven". A recall occurred and this edition was re-pressed with the reprise of "We Have Heaven".
A DVD-Audio version of the album was released on 19 November 2002, featuring Dolby Digital and DTS surround sound mixes along with other additional features. The bonus track "America" features additional vocals in the last minute of the song which are not present in the 1972 release. It is currently out of print, but a hybrid SACD version was released as an import from Japan with the same ten tracks in stereo and 5.1 sound.
On 7 November 2006, two audiophile remasters of the album were released: an Ultradisc II Gold CD version by the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, and a 180 gram vinyl LP version by Steve Hoffman, issued by Analogue Productions.
|1.||"Roundabout"||Jon Anderson, Steve Howe||8:30|
|2.||"Cans and Brahms (Extracts from Brahms' 4th Symphony in E Minor, Third Movement)"||Johannes Brahms, arranged by Rick Wakeman||1:38|
|3.||"We Have Heaven"||Anderson||1:40|
|4.||"South Side of the Sky"||Anderson, Chris Squire||8:02|
|1.||"Five Per Cent for Nothing"||Bill Bruford||0:35|
|2.||"Long Distance Runaround"||Anderson||3:30|
|3.||"The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)"||Squire||2:39|
|4.||"Mood for a Day"||Howe||3:00|
|5.||"Heart of the Sunrise"||Anderson, Squire, Bruford||11:27|
The track "Heart of the Sunrise" ends, after a pause of several seconds, with a reprise of "We Have Heaven" that begins with the sound of a door being unlatched ("We Have Heaven" on Side One of the album ends with the sound of a slamming door). This hidden track is not referenced on Fragile's cover or album labels. Original pressings of Fragile also list the duration of "Heart of the Sunrise" as 10:34, omitting the timing of the hidden track.
|2003 Reissue bonus tracks|
|11.||"Roundabout (Early rough mix)"||Anderson, Howe||8:35|
(taken from the sleeve notes)
- Jon Anderson – vocals
- Bill Bruford – drums, percussion
- Steve Howe – electric and acoustic guitars , backing vocals
- Chris Squire – bass guitars, backing vocals
- Rick Wakeman – Hammond organ, piano, RMI 368 Electra-Piano and Harpsichord, Mellotron, Moog synthesizer
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- Billboard albums chart info - Yes Fragile at Allmusic. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
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- Chris Welch, Close to the Edge: The Story of Yes, p. 119, Omnibus Press (2003), ISBN 0-7119-9509-5
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- Christgau, Robert (2 March 1972). "Consumer Guide (24): Yes: Fragile". The Village Voice. Retrieved 16 December 2011. Relevant part posted in a revised version at "Yes: Fragile > Consumer Guide Album". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 19 January 2008.
- Dahlen, Chris; Leone, Dominique; Tangari, Joe (8 February 2004). "Pitchfork: Album Reviews: Yes: The Yes Album / Fragile / Close to the Edge / Tales from Topographic Oceans / Relayer / Going for the One / Tormato / Drama / 90125". pitchfork.com. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 19 January 2008.
- Cromelin, Richard (16 March 1972). "Yes Fragile > Album Review". Rolling Stone (104). Archived from the original on 1 October 2007. Retrieved 22 July 2007.
- Lechner, Ernesto (6 February 2003). "Classically Trained!". Rolling Stone (915). p. 64. Archived from the original on 21 April 2009. Retrieved 3 July 2011. Reviews reissues of Yes, Time and a Word, The Yes Album, and Fragile. Posted January 15, 2003.
- "Yes - Fragile Ultradisc II 24 KT Gold CD". Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, Inc. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
- Warner Premium Sound 17 August 2011 releases (in Japanese). Retrieved 2011-11-03.
- "American certifications – Yes – Fragile". Recording Industry Association of America.
- Fragile, CD booklet essay, Bill Martin, c. 2003
- "Top Pop Albums 1955–2001", Joel Whitburn, c. 2002