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Fragile - Remastered And Expanded

Review by Gary Hill

Rhino has begun a series of remasters of Yes albums, restoring the original artwork and adding bonus cuts to the discs. This is their version of one of the more classic Yes recordings, Fragile. The remastering part seems to add a bit to the sound of the album, mostly in the form of letting Bill Bruford's awesome percussion parts come to life a bit more than even on the previous remaster of the album. As to the expanded title, the two bonus cuts are "America", Yes' cover of the Paul Simon penned number and an early rough mix of "Roundabout". The first one is a little redundant, as the cut is available in various versions on assorted Yes CD's. The second bonus track is probably not going to be a huge thrill to most listeners as, other than a different mid-section (the roughest part of the track) the tune does not seem to vary all that much from the album rendition. Still, having the booklets (yes, they do look weird in the smaller version) is a really big addition to the album, though. Those booklets were always a wonderful treat, and they are done nicely here.

Overall, if you don't already have Fragile on CD, by all means, pick up this version. If you do have it, this is probably just for the serious Yes collector. With its combination of what have grown to be Yes classics and solo compositions from each member of the band, Fragile is certainly a must-have in any Yes fan's collection, though.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
Other than the Trevor Rabin era "Owner of a Lonely Heart" this is probably the most well-known Yes track of all time and sits near Zep's "Stairway to Heaven" in the category of most recognizable '70's rock song. Guitarist Steve Howe's harmonic-based intro gives way to a thundering groove that combines quirky changes into a hard rocking anthem that is actually quite catchy. This one certainly suffers from over-exposure, but truly is a masterwork.
Cans and Brahms
Rick Wakeman's solo piece on the CD, this is his fairly faithful take on classical themes, the modern instrumentation serving more to flavor it than overpower.
We Have Heaven
This Anderson solo piece is simply wonderful. Although brief, it contains a full on Yes arrangement and the vocal interplay is brilliant. Some Beatlesesque moments add a nice charm, as well.
South Side of the Sky
One of my personal all-time favorite Yes pieces, this one has to take a bit of time to grow on you, but when it does - wow! It is a great example of how this band are able to take a considerably complex, syncopated song structure and create a compelling and accessible song with it. I have always loved segments where the guitar solos and screams throughout the vocal lines, and this one is chock-full of Howe's fretboard frenzy too intense to just stay in little compartments. Wakeman manages to squeeze in some beautiful piano based classically oriented interludes that truly set this on its ear, and bring it a sense of grounding. This cut is absolutely timeless and one of the finest works of the whole genre. In some ways this is one of the crunchier pieces the band did during their classic era.
Five Percent For Nothing
This is Bill Bruford's composition as his "solo" piece, and it's a wonderfully quirky instrumental. The short cut uses melody more as rhythmic texture in quite a pleasing way.
Long Distance Runaround
Another that has become a Yes classic, this one features an especially strong vocal arrangement and intriguing rhythmic pattern. It is quirky, dramatic and smart. It leads here straight into Chris Squire's solo contribution.
Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)
Bass man and Pisces (the fish) Chris Squire's trademark solo, this is like no other bass solo you have heard. It is more of a true composition with Squire's bass runs set over top of a backdrop of percussion and harmonics. This has a great groove to it.
Mood For A Day
Steve Howe adds his solo piece, a thoughtful and evocative acoustic guitar excursion.
Heart of the Sunrise
Chris Squire once was quoted as saying that this track is the definitive Yes song, capturing all of what the band does well. Truly it is another masterpiece, and is full of emotion. The virtuosity is all over this, but as part of making a stronger song rather than "showing off". Squire's bass line drives much of the cut. It showcases the group's contrasting soft and hard-edged sides quite well. In fact, Mr. Squire might well be right on the money with his assessment of this piece. A short reprise of "We Have Heaven" ends the album proper.

Yes' cover of Paul Simon's piece, this one feels more like older Yes in many ways, seeming like it might have felt quite at home on one of the Banks era albums. It is a solid reworking of the song, and the group finds plenty of opportunities to shine here.
Roundabout (Early Rough Mix)
The name pretty well describes this. It is a rougher version of the album's opener. It doesn't really reveal much new about the son, but as a rough mix is quite listenable. The midsection is the only real change to the arrangement, and certainly of the lowest production
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