A Look Back At Yes' 'Fragile' Album 45 Years Later


(Radio.com) This week (January 4), Yes's classic fourth album, 1972's Fragile, celebrates the 45th anniversary of its U.S. release (it hit stores in England a few weeks earlier, on November 26, 1971) and Brian Ives takes a look back at the landmark album.

Fragile was the album where Yes truly found their identity; it featured their most celebrated lineup, one of their signature radio songs and even saw them begin to form the visual imagery that they'd use throughout their career. As this anniversary comes just a few weeks after the announcement that Yes will finally be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it's a good time to look back at the album which, more than any other in their catalog, is responsible for their legend.

Fragile was the perfect record for its time: blues-based rock music had gone pretty far, but Yes was bringing something new, fresh and different. They were one of a handful of bands that created the much-maligned and often-misunderstood art form known as progressive rock. Perhaps a few years down the line, the epic-length songs and rock star excesses made Yes the poster children for what music critics and punk rockers absolutely hated. But really, what Yes and their peers (Genesis, Emerson Lake and Palmer, King Crimson) were doing was bringing new flavors to rock music: classical and jazz influences permeated the music in ways that rock and roll hadn't seen before. Lyrically, Yes was finding different kinds of stories to tell; their words were more inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis than Willie Dixon and Jerry Lee Lewis. And they were certainly happy to stretch the lengths of rock songs: but not through jamming, like the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers. Instead, like classical composers, they created epics that contained multiple movements.

As long as the songs got, Yes never forgot the importance of the song. They also knew the importance of each individual member, all of whom were virtuosos. In fact, the nine track album really just has four "Yes" songs; the other five tracks are mostly solo pieces by individual members. And it was their newest member that brought Yes to their highest highs: keyboardist Rick Wakeman. Read more here.

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