In the vast realm of progressive rock, few bands have left an indelible mark quite like Yes. And when it comes to their definitive masterpiece, Fragile stands tall as a pillar of rock history. It's intriguing how many bands reach their creative maturity in their fourth album, and this seems to be the case with Fragile, Yes' 4th studio album, and the first one with their classic line-up that added master keyboard player Rick Wakeman. This is also the first cover drawn by Roger Dean, who would create some of the most classic album covers in history; copying them in watercolor was one of my favorite things to do while listening to their music.
I was introduced to Yes by my friend Fernando, but I can't recall which album was first. What I remember, though, is that I didn't like it at first, but little by little, this became an enduring favorite record of all time.
Fragile is a combination of group songs and solos in which each band member displayed their virtuosity and established themselves as rockers that can evoke the mastery of classical music. Steve Howe's "Mood for a Day" resonated deeply within me, becoming a fixture in my music collection and a recurring addition to the compilation cassettes I painstakingly curated for prospective girlfriends - though their appreciation for it often fell woefully short. Then came "The Fish" in which Dr. "Chris Squire," a remarkable bass player, showed us what the bass could do; this song would be particularly cool in concert, and I had the chance to experience it twice. And of course, "Cans and Brahms" would be a typical Wakeman song modernizing classic Brahms.
While "Roundabout" is the most recognizable song of the album, my favorite is "Heart of the Sunrise," which, in typical progressive style, is longer than 10 minutes and full of surprises. It is here that Yes, in all its glory, showcases its remarkable ability to meld seemingly nonsensical fragments into a breathtaking symphony of sound.
Yes has a vast discography that is worth exploring, with a revolving door of musicians totaling 20! However, there was a constant, bass player Chris Squire who only left the band at his death. Since his passing, the band has become a shadow of their former self, almost like a tribute band; perhaps they should have left the stage years ago. Nevertheless, Fragile and a few other albums that will showcase here someday are a solid foundation of rock history.