The sure and steady pace at which Yes has progressed through their four albums seems to suit them just fine, and in Fragile the fruit is at last beginning to ripen.
Some problems remain, however: They're good and they know it, so they tend to succumb to the show-off syndrome. Their music (notably "Cans and Brahms" and "We Have Heaven") often seems designed only to impress and tries too hard to call attention to itself. Is anyone really still excited by things like "Five tracks on this album are individual ideas, personally arranged and organized by the five members of the band .. etc."? They've got it in them to do a lot more than provide fodder for those strange people who get it off to visions of keyboard battles between Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson. Then too, with the nimble Wakeman and his many instruments, a guitarist (Steve Howe) who can finger-pick like the devil and, apparently, a wealth of collective imagination, they could inject at least a tad more variety into their work. As it is, most of the songs sound like variations on one idea rather than distinct entities sharing a common style.
But make no mistake the Yes people have a lot to be excited over. Gorgeous melodies, intelligent, carefully crafted, constantly surprising arrangements, concise and energetic performances, cryptic but evocative lyrics when all these present Yes is quite boggling and their potential seemingly unlimited.
As in the opening "Roundabout," marked by a thick, chugging texture which almost imperceptibly accumulates, during deceptively innocent little breaks and fills, a screaming, shattering intensity that builds and builds until suddenly everything drops away but Wakeman's liquid organ trills, some scattered guitar notes and Jon Anderson's pure, plaintive voice: "In and around the lake/Mountains come out of the sky and they/Stand there." It's a tour-deforce, a complete knockout, and perhaps the most quietly devastating moment to appear on a record in recent memory.
The heavily atmospheric "South Side of the Sky" is also a grabber, a song that goes from full chorus and band (that's loud) to a segment that is nearly Oriental in its pristine simplicity just wandering piano, electronic swirlings and the whoosh of an icy wind. "Heart of the Sunrise" is the third extended cut, and it puts everything they've got into a wide-ranging and most impressive package which demonstrates that progressive (remember progressive rock?) doesn't mean sterile and that complex isn't the same thing as inaccessible.
When it's all working, the music made by Yes is what the best music always is, a powerful and moving emotional experience. It's probably the first music to come along since some of the Kinks' older stuff that actually brings the beginnings of tears to these jaded eyes of mine. Don't bet it can't happen to you. (RS 104)
(Posted: Mar 9, 1998)
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First of all, I wanna be really clear on something: I'm not a Yes fan.In fact, if there is anything I've learned in my 27 years old is that being fan of whatever it may be, is wrong.And I have to admit that you guys in Rolling Stone are sometimes FANS of some artists like Bob Dylan, Beatles, Hendrix, Beach boys, etc. and all (well almost all) their records are 5 stars.I really don't agree with that, and I know probably this doesn't count for you at all, BUT PLEASE TRY TO BE MORE ETHICAL IN REVIEWS AND JUST WITH EVERY ARTIST.Well now "Fragile" I think it's the best Yes record and one of the greatest albums of all time.Not just because of the arragements and instrumentation, but because of the great songs bellow of it all:"Roundabout" "Five percent per nothing"(what a crazy fucking incredible 30 seconds!) "Mood for a day"(what a concert guitar!) "The fish"(what a bass, man!) "Heart of the sunrise" "Long distance roundaround" and more.Chris Squire shows he is one of the greatest bass players ever, Steve Howe goes from sutil to angry and powerful Bill is a perfect timing machines supporting all the changes in melodies made by bass and guitar, and Jon Anderson is in the highest level of his vocal performance.Add all this to great written songs and you'll have a perfect album, NOT BASED IN MUSIC STYLES (neither symphonic rock or progessive) but using them to build PERFECT SONGS.And perfect songs make a perfect album.Or in other words: everything you can ask for of a record.
Sep 26, 2007 08:58:16
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