Fragile

Yes (1971)

A progressive rock milestone and easily Yes’ finest record. Not the first prog rock album, but certainly the first to become hugely popular, and also a quintessential example of the genre. Pretty much everyone in this band (barring the divisive, but certainly competent vocalist Jon Anderson) would become a revered legend on their instrument. Chris Squire is an absolute God of bass playing, Rick Wakeman is a technical master of keyboards, Steve Howe is a seasoned professional guitarist, and the deft Bill Bruford keeps up with all of them, laying out idiosyncratic drum parts. The interesting thing about these five talents is that their personalities inform the structure of the record: there are four mind-blowing group tracks, and then each person gets a solo spot. The songwriting is impeccable, and flawlessly bridges the gap between esoteric complexity and melodic accessibility. This is archetypal prog, by one of the genre’s leading groups (they were pioneers at the forefront of the movement, along with King Crimson, but Fragile is their creative peak). It’s also quite uptempo – as odd as it sounds, despite a few mellow moments, this album kicks ass.

Key track: “Heart Of the Sunrise”

See also: The Yes Album – Yes (1971), Close To the Edge – Yes (1972), Relayer – Yes (1974), Red – King Crimson (1974), Discipline – King Crimson (1981)

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