Fragile (The Definitive Edition CD/Blu Ray) – Yes
With the band all set with its new style and musical direction after the release of The Yes Album. To be able to continue they decided to make another change to the band’s current line up. Their keyboard player Tony Kaye was the next member to be ousted out of the band. The fact that their new guitarist Steve Howe had brought so much more to the band and was the key element to how the band had progressed at this stage, they felt they needed to bring in another musician of equal stature.
His replacement was none other than Rick Wakeman a keyboard wizard who without doubt could measure up to Howe’s high standards of musicianship and stature. There is no doubt Wakeman added more strength to the band’s line up and the album Fragile brought the band even more success, when it was released 9 months later after The Yes Album in the same year of 1971. At this stage of the game even most of the bands members were picking up awards. Steve Howe was voted the best guitarist. Rick Wakeman got voted as the best keyboard player and even Chris Squire knocked Paul McCartney off the number one spot and picked up the best bass player award for his work on this album.
Fragile was the band’s biggest selling studio album throughout the 70’s it went Platinum twice over in the United States selling over 2 million copies. It was quite an achievement for any progressive rock band whose music hardly got any radio play back then, and still is not a widely popular genre even today. Whilst most prog rock band’s struggled Yes was that popular they had no trouble packing out the bigger stadiums and arenas with their live shows and even had no problem packing out Madison Square Garden’s in New York.
Back in those days I do not even think many of my school friends had ever heard of the band. Those who I got to play some of their music too, thought I was a complete weirdo for even liking it. They did not understand that this is music one has to grow into and not like the popular music in the charts that will hit you directly in the face making you instantly liking it. You had to give it more time to really understand their music.
This was not your typical run of the mill average verse and chorus song with how their music was structured. In many ways it was put together the same way the many classical greats put their symphonies together. It was far more sophisticated and complex, and was built up with musical extensions to create it. You had to have a good knowledge of music to create it, and you certainly had to be a skilful musician to be able to play it.
The Packaging & Artwork…
The packaging with all these definitive editions are all made the same cardboard, come with no fixed booklets, and all look like mini sized versions of the original gatefold vinyl album’s. They all present the same problems too as I described in my previous review of The Yes Album you can look at for a more full detailed description.
This one also includes the original booklet which came with the original vinyl album. To which was also not fixed inside, and was stored inside alongside the vinyl album. You could quite easily store other things such as this quite easily inside a vinyl album.
But unfortunately you have not got a cats chance in hell of storing not even one of these booklets where the CD’s are housed inside. The chances are if you tried the cardboard would end up simply falling apart at the seams. The quality of the cardboard is reasonable enough to hold the discs but thin and not even sturdy enough to even keep the thing shut, never mind store anything else in it.
The album Fragile was the first Yes album to feature Roger Dean’s artwork. There is no doubt in my mind that band’s music suited Dean’s work more than any other band, he had already done loads of covers for other artists around that time. The fact that Dean’s artwork was mainly futuristic and Yes Music was also futuristic and sounded well ahead of its time, made them a perfect match to be honest.
It was Roger Dean’s artwork that attracted my attention that much that made me buy Yessongs in the first place, which was the very first album I brought of the band back in 1973. I also felt the artwork for that album is a lot better than what we got here for the album Fragile. The band’s logo was not even properly developed at this stage either, which was much better on their next album, and was the very thing that one could easily identity the band with as well without them having to play a note.
But I do like the artwork Dean done for this particular album. Though personally I rather think the planet earth with the piece breaking of it, that was on the back of the album represented the album’s title of “Fragile” more than what it did on the front of the album.
They say you should never judge a book by its cover, and I think that is very true in most things including films and albums and not just books. I have been very disappointed at times for buying albums and hiring films just by looking at what’s on the front of them. But I have to say I was never disappointed by any of the artwork Dean done for the Yes back in the 70’s, and it was very much a perfect marriage in relation to what was on the outside and the contents on its inside.
I actually brought the vinyl album Fragile twice back in the 70’s. I brought it originally in 1973 brand new to which as I mentioned the booklet was not fixed inside and stored in the same pocket the actual album was stored. Then in 1978 I came across the album 2nd hand in very good condition in a record shop called the Diskery in the city centre of Birmingham.
The Diskery was a record shop that sold both new and 2nd hand records. I quite often popped in there and browsed through the 2nd hand section because the owners would only buy the records off you if they was in very good condition, unlike a 2nd hand shop where they could often be seen in a right state with scratches all over them. I brought quite a few 2nd album’s back in those days to save money and you could pick them up from £1 to £1.50.
I had no intention of buying Fragile again on that day at all cause I already had the album. But as I was browsing through the section I did happen to come across it and I quite often picked up album’s I already owned just to gaze at them and think what an album that is. But upon picking it up to have a mooch. I noticed that whoever owned it before had successfully managed to fix the booklet inside the gatefold cover.
I had no idea how he did it, but it looked as if it was meant for the album to come like that in the first place. He done a stunningly professional job of it. So I ended up buying it again, and I also ended up selling my original album I brought of it back in 1973, and it never cost me a thing to exchange it looking back at it.
Thinking back to the 70’s one of the fondest memories I have of the album Fragile was that there was an arcade of stalls inside from what looked on the outside a very small shop which was just off Bull Street in Birmingham’s main shopping centre. To be honest I am not sure when it opened up, but it’s still very much their today as far as I know of.
It went under the name of Oasis and many people would call it the Oasis market basically because it was full of stores that sold a variety of clothing, the odd little trinkets and gifts. There was also a cafe’ along with a tattoo shop and a record shop inside.
Very familiar with the InShops that got built later on in other smaller shopping centres around various parts of Birmingham. Only the Oasis was considered as the more trendy place to be, and back in the early 70’s the fact that many people used to talk about it made me want to go and see what all attraction and fuss was all about.
To be honest I used to have a walk around the Oasis most times I visited the main shopping centre, thou the only thing I can recall buying in their was perhaps a drink and a snack in the cafe’. I do not think I ever brought a record from there. But 99% of the time I walked around the place, they always had the album Fragile playing through all the speakers around its 3 floors.
The Definitive Edition Release…
The CD/Blu Ray definitive edition of Fragile got released on the 30 October 2015. Just like The Yes Album that released in the previous year it comes with many high quality audio formats and bonus tracks. Regarding it being the so called “Definitive Edition” and the best, just like I said in my review of The Yes Album there is no doubt at all. Once again Steven Wilson has done a purely terrific job on both the stereo and 5.1 mixes.
The CD comes with a lot more bonus tracks and in total you get 6 of them. The Blu also has those 6 bonus tracks and included an additional 3 more exclusively on the Blu Ray release. There is a few interesting ones too. Other exclusive material on the Blu Ray is the instrumental tracks of the album and the vinyl drop to which we seen on The Yes Album. But there is another exclusive feature this Blu Ray does have that album never had, and I will get to that further on in my review here.
The Blu Ray
Once again the Blu Ray comes with some impressive high end audio and I am overwhelmed by the quality you do get in these new releases. It comes with 2 x 24 Bit 96K 5.1 mixes . Which are the DTS HD Master and an LPCM version of the 2015 Steve Wilson mixes. A 2015 LPCM 24/96K Stereo mix by Wilson. A LPCM 24/192K Flat Transfer of the original mix, and both the Instrumental and the Vinyl Drop mixes are also in LPCM 24/96K.
I was also quite happy to get this Fragile CD/Blu Ray at a more respectable price of £14.81p from Amazon too. You can get them slightly cheaper if you get the CD/DVD versions. But I do prefer the Blu Ray myself for its HD quality and for it’s exclusive features.
The Bonus Tracks…
The 6 bonus tracks that come with the CD are: “Roundabout” (Rehearsal Take, Early Mix). “We Have Heaven” (Full Version, Steven Wilson Mix). “South Side Of The Sky” (Early Version, Steven Wilson Mix). “All Fighters Past” (Steven Wilson Mix). “Mood for Another Day” (Previously Unreleased Take). “We Have Heaven” (Acapella, Steven Wilson Mix)
These are also included on the Blu Ray along with the following: “Roundabout” (Early Rough Mix). “South Side Of The Sky” (Early Take). “Roundabout” (Headphones Mix, For Vox Overdubs).
This is a lot more than what we seen on the 2003 Rhino CD Release which only had 2 bonus tracks which were: “America” and “Roundabout” (Early Rough Mix). Though the Paul Simon song “America” appears to be missing with this release. I can assure you it is included on the Blu Ray in that other special feature I will discuss later on.
There is also both the US Single edits of “Roundabout” and it’s B’ Side “Long Distant Runaround” which can be found on Blu Ray in the original Vinyl Transfer of the stereo album. So there are in total you do get 12 bonus tracks with the Blu Ray.
The bonus material is quite good and most of it is perhaps focused around early studio takes where you get to hear certain parts of the vocals either singing different words, different phrasing of the vocal lines, or completely missing in their earlier developments of the songs. These are perhaps good to have, but will not really serve a purpose in the way that one would want to play them that much really.
Apart from “America” to which I have always liked. The best of the bonus material here is the early version which is really an alternative version in reality of “South Side Of The Sky“. I do love how they play the chorus of the song first on this take and it really is great to hear it this way too. Very much a fave of mine here.
It also brings back memories of how Yes played one of their earlier songs from their 1970 Time And A Word album “Sweet Dreams” live in 1974 with Patrick Moraz on the keyboards on the The Old Grey Whistle Test. They rearranged the song by playing the chorus first, and by doing so they made it sound even more like Yes Music rather than the way they originally done it on the album.
It’s also good to see an Acapella only of “We Have Heaven” and I am sure this will appeal to many of those on Soundcloud so that they can build their own music around it. I may even have a go at that myself in the future.
Perhaps the most talked about of the bunch here will no doubt is the rare find that Steve Wilson found at the end of one of the band’s master tapes entitled “All Fighters Past“. It was unusual to find any other material on the end of those master tapes as most of the stuff Yes considered not worth keeping got erased.
Basically it’s a rocked up version of “Roundabout” but strangely Jon Anderson is singing some of the lyrics from “The Revealing Science Of God” back in 1971 that were later used for their album Tales From The Topographic Oceans that never came out until a couple of years later in 1973.
Musicians & Credits…
The original album was produced by Yes & Eddie Oddford at the Advision Studios. London. Engineered by Eddie Oddford and assisted by Gary Martin. Sleeve drawings, photographs and logo by Roger Dean. Colour photograph of Bill Bruford on the drums by David Wright.
Jon Anderson: Vocals.
Chris Squire: Bass Guitars/Vocals.
Steve Howe: Electric & Acoustic Guitars/Vocals.
Rick Wakeman: Organ/Grand Piano/Electric Piano/Harpsichord/Mellotron/Synthesizer.
Bill Bruford: Drums/Percussion.
The Album Fragile Review…
The album Fragile was the bands 4th album and 2nd album that featured the new musical direction the band was now heading in regarding what is known as Yes Music. The original album was released on the 26th November 1971. It contained 9 tracks over a playing time of 41 minutes and 16 seconds. It was the first album to feature their new keyboard player Rick Wakeman and even though Wakeman played on the album he was not officially a member of the band.
The fact that Wakeman was already signed up to A&M Records as a solo artist meant that he could not become an official member of Yes because of contractual differences between his record company and Atlantic Records. Though as far as the band and himself were concerned he was a band member.
The material on Fragile is a bit differently placed out along the album regarding it’s break points and the 4 corners in relation to my theory I pointed out in my review of The Yes Album. Though I can assure you it does have 4 corners even if only 3 of them are placed out in the corners of the both sides of the original vinyl album that had 2 sides. All 4 corners on this album are also strong pillars too, and there are no weak ones here at all.
These 4 corners are the main featured tracks done by the band and are what I class as Yes Music. The rest of the material are all individual tracks done by each of artists in the band. These are the break points. Though I also only count 4 instead of 5 of these being break points, and Chris Squire’s individual track “The Fish” one of the main songs of the band that strongly features him, rather than it being an individual track at all. You will also find on the original vinyl album that there was no separate groove for this track either, though it did have its own track number and was the 3rd track on side 2 of the album.
The corners on the album Fragile are made out of the songs “Roundabout“. “South Side Of The Sky“. “Long Distant Runaround/The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)” and “Heart Of The Sunrise“. They are all very strong pillars and even the individual artist tracks that are the break points and all very strong as well.
Track 1. Roundabout.
The opening song on the album Roundabout became one of the bands most popular songs. Though the album was released in November of 1971 in the UK. It was not until January in 1972 that it was released in America. To promote the American release of the album they made an edited 3 minute 37 second version of the song, and put it out as a single prior to the album release over there, and used an edited version of “Long Distant Runaround” for the B’ side.
The song opens up with Howe playing the opening on his acoustic guitar which is backed up by one single piano note that they reversed and used for the phasing effect you can hear. For me personally I have always loved this opening where Howe uses his electric guitar instead on the opening of the live version on the Yessongs album. It tends to add that bit more excitement about it for some reason. It’s also more intensifying and electrifying. The live version is also played at a more faster pace too that seems to pump more adrenalin into the song. Though I love the both versions to be honest.
Just by listening to this song alone you can certainly see how the new keyboard player Wakeman adds more strength to the line up. Not only is he more involved with his contribution to the music with the more detailed parts he’s playing, but he also has the ability to exchange and play the same notes in unison with Howe on the guitar. There is no question they got themselves one of the best keyboard players around back then. he still happens to be my god of the keyboards even today.
Roundabout is without a doubt a great song that has the band in full unison with one another. They read and feed off each other very well. It’s got great vocal harmonies, exciting lead breaks from both the keyboard and guitar, and stands up as a pretty strong pillar for the 1st corner of the album. Without a doubt Yes are continuing to knock out material that is very strong and in every way done in their own style and genre of Yes Music.
Track 2. Cans and Brahms.
The first of the 2 breaks on the first side of album of where each artist of the band gets to shine by coming up with a short piece of their own. They decided to give the first slot on the album to their new keyboard player Rick Wakeman who adapted a short piece of music around the 3rd movement of Johannes Brahms Symphony No. 4. Played and arranged by Wakeman himself to which he gave the title of Cans and Brahms to the piece.
I actually quite like the piece though Wakeman himself thought it was dreadful mainly down to his contractual agreement with A&M Records who prevented him from composing his own music for other artists who was not on their record label. hence why he had to do an arrangement of somebody else’s instead.
Track 3. We Have Heaven.
Next up for a short ditty and another little break point on the album was the vocalist Jon Anderson. Who decided to use his voice and harmonies like an orchestra with all the many part harmonies he constructed around some of his weird lyrics as ever :))))). He also does some fine chants on the piece too. Though this is not purely unaccompanied, but he did construct the acapella on his own before presenting it to some of the other band members to throw something over it.
It really is an excellent piece of work and a superb track on the album. I also like the way the door slams shut and the running footsteps panned in stereo at the end which leads you into the next track on the album. It’s even better in 5.1 and runs all around you :))))))
Track 4. South Side Of The Sky.
The 2nd corner of the album is yet another cracking band track entitled South Side Of The Sky. Though the musical structure of this particular song is perhaps built around more of a rock riff in relation to be actually considered as Yes Music. The one particular person of the band who put the prog rock element into it was the very person who was not allowed to write any material for the band, due to his contractual agreement.
That element is the construction of the piano piece in the middle of the track by Wakeman. It’s not the only track he did contribute to writing either on the album. But in order to get away with it, he had to leave his name out of the writing credits for the piece.
The way the song opens up with its thunder and heavy wind storm and even the rocky riff played at a bit of pace from Howe’s guitar, and even the lyrical content from Anderson. Very much gives a dramatic impression that we are on some expedition in some snowy mountain regions. According to more recent research Howe’s original riff came from a song he had been working on with his earlier band Bodast.
In all honesty I have to laugh my head off at the different interpretations about this song. Even the two interpretations from Anderson himself are very contradictory, and the much later interpretation he gave about it, had me in hysterics :)))))))). Back in the day he actually wrote the lyrics he claimed the inspiration he got for the lyrics came from an article he was reading which had the words “sleep is death’s little sister”.
He expanded on the idea that death could be beautiful. In the way of one being asleep and not knowing about it. The mountain he referenced in the lyrics were some sort of goal of how humanity struggles to attain itself after which there is death. The uphill struggle that many others have with how to cope with losing their loved ones and also how eternal sleep leads to the next life span in the way of perhaps being resurrected into another life.
To be honest this is quite poetic and a very good interpretation. However according to the interpretation that was put in the 2003 remastered Rhino edition of the album we get a different story which was based around my original way of thinking about it all those years ago. And that was that is was based around a tragic polar expedition that ends in death.
The funny thing is that if you ask Anderson today what it was about, the only real answer your gonna get is that “This is a song about climbing mountains. It’s dangerous, but we all must climb mountains every day”. It’s the way he will laugh it off at the end that has me in hysterics but in all honesty there is some philosophy in all these interpretations.
For some sort of reason the band shunned away from playing the song “South Side Of The Sky” live and it took them over 4 decades to finally play and include the song in their live shows. I personally think it’s a song they should of played a lot more often, its better and certainly a stronger pillar of a song than what “I’ve Seen All Goof People” is. It rounded off the first side of the vinyl album superbly.
Track 5. Five Percent For Nothing.
When it comes to short tracks and little ditty’s they do not get much shorter than the drummer Bill Bruford’s solo contribution to the band. Five Percent For Nothing is the shortest track on the album that they placed has the 1st track on side two of the vinyl album. Though it’s placed on a corner stone of the album it’s only a short break point before the next corner of the album comes into play.
Just like Anderson’s own contribution. Bruford is not unaccompanied here, and the other members of the band do a cracking little job around the 36 second shuffle supporting him. It’s a lovely little timely piece and sets up the next song of the album very well indeed.
Track 6. Long Distant Runaround.
Anderson’s lyrics do not get any weirder than the 3rd corner of the album. Long Distant Runaround. It’s a song that is credited to Anderson for writing himself. But if you listen to the music, if there was anybody I was going to credit for its writing, it certainly would have been Chris Squire. Squire’s bass line on this track and the one that follows it is incredible.
Has I mentioned earlier both tracks 6 and 7 of the album are in reality one track. You cannot play “Long Distant Runaround” as an album track on its own, and there was a reason that the vinyl album never had a groove for it has an extra track as well. Simply cause if you do you will soon notice that its ending will sound very out of place, even if you choose to do such a thing on the CD version as well. The song simply does not end here and track 7 of the album is which was Squire’s solo contribution is in reality part of this song.
Personally I do not think Anderson should of been the only one who got credit for writing this song. I know his vocal melody line is very strong and he has the ability to hum out with his voice to the other musicians what they should be playing. But in all honesty nobody could of hummed out the bass line in this song. I think Squire was being very generous by leaving himself out of the writing credits on this one I really do.
Track. 7. The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus).
The Fish is the 2nd part of “Long Distant Runaround” of which when put together make up a 6 minute 9 second song. You simply cannot separate one from the other, and if you’re telling me that at this stage Yes made classics likes this which are in every way part of what Yes Music is all about, by making two 3 minute tracks out of them, at this stage in their career. It was never going to happen. There is no doubt Squire contributed heavily to both parts.
No way on this earth at this stage of the band’s career did they make 3 minute songs. Certainly not the major featured tracks that were on their album’s that were considered as the real Yes Music songs. The biggest majority of the time the band played the both parts of this song live and even could even drag it out to over the 14 minute mark. The both parts put together also make it quite a strong pillar and it was both Squire and Anderson that made it what it is.
Track 8. Mood For A Day.
The final break point on the album is Steve Howe’s solo contribution Mood For A Day. Once again the virtuoso guitarist comes up with another well written acoustic piece that starts off very much with flamenco guitar to which he then weaves a bit of his own personal magic around this Spanish style condo. Just like the solo guitar piece “Clap” we got on their previous album it adds a nice touch to the album with this beauty.
Track 9. Heart Of The Sunrise.
No doubt in my mind they saved the best for the last track on the album. Heart Of The Sunrise says everything about Yes Music and is my personal favourite track on the album. This 11 minute 39 second track is the longest track on the album and the 4th and final corner of the album and a solid pillar of strength.
The song kicks off with one massive build up and is purely a power of strength with how it builds up. Both Squire and Bruford play a massive contribution to the song. When you listen to its opening it’s as if it was created by those two alone, and they arrived at the studio that bit earlier than the others and knocked it out. It’s no wonder Squire picked up the best bass player award when they did this album his work on this track is purely phenomenal and throughout the album.
Wakeman also contributed to writing with some of themes he played on his keyboards. His classical training made very good use on this track. Though once again he was omitted from the writing credits on the track and the writing credits for this Yes classic went to Anderson. Squire and Bruford. Atlantic did say they would see that Wakeman got paid some more money for his writing contributions, though he has never received a penny still till this day.
The massive build up intro of the song not only features Squire and Bruford doing the business, but also Wakeman and Howe doing just as much as an impressive job with not only Howe playing the odd counter melodies on his electric guitar and Wakeman supporting it with its orchestration with his mellotron. But both of them also play along to the same speedy notes coming from Squire’s bass perfectly in this section. Absolutely mind blowing musicianship from the highly skilled musicians of the band.
It takes some 3 minutes and 23 seconds before it finally comes down to some more melodic lines from the musicians for Anderson to come in on the vocals, and at the 3 minute 41 second mark Anderson’s voice does come on and on this song its instant bliss, because he gets to use a bit more of his sweet ballad voice on certain parts, especially on his entry here.
The first verse is supported by Howe’s guitar. most of the other verses from then on are superbly supported just by Squire and Bruford and Howe and Wakeman only really contributing a bit of extras to the end of the verses and in the chorus sections.
The interplay in the lead sections between Anderson’s odd bit of vocal parts by Howe and Wakeman right up to the 7:48 mark is purely superb and even both Squire and Bruford are not just laid back either, and join in on some of the parts.
Bruford even sounds like he’s playing lead on the drums in parts with his superb pattern play. He’s such a great drummer, and this band in all honesty are so perfectly matched to be able to play around each other, and know each other that well. They seem to know exactly when it’s time for each individual member to grab a spot and take a piece of the action whilst the others lay off and take it down a peg or two.
Then at 7:48 Mark it all comes down at first with Wakeman’s hammond organ which is then followed by Howe’s electric guitar leading into what I call the lead guitar effect which appears some 5 seconds later at the 7:53 mark. I call this an effect because on the live version on Yessongs this part played on Howe’s guitar is perhaps 10 times more effective than how it’s done here on the studio version.
The Studio Process.
At this point I think it might be appropriate to talk a bit more about the process of how Yes Music gets made in the studio and can project itself even more so when they go out and play it live.
There is no doubt that on the stage Yes are one truly terrific live band. I’ve seen them a few times in my lifetime and in all honesty they are one of the most impressive live acts going, especially back in their heyday. To be able to be as successful as they are on the stage, you very much have to put a bit less into the original songs that were made in the studio, to allow yourself more room to fit something that bit more special into it when performing it on the stage live.
In reality it’s all part of how they construct, piece and glue all the music together in the process of making each song in the first place in the studio. Yes are not the type of band who construct music and their songs in the way most do by using a basic verse and chorus structure.
Their songs cannot be easily written this way and it takes several parts to make just one song. They do not even know themselves how the final song will sound until they have all the parts by playing various riffs and lines that are going to get stuck together to make the final product of what’s known as Yes Music.
The very fact that all the parts were sometimes improvised or composed and stuck together in this way. means that they have never played the song all the way through before, after it’s all done. They very much have to learn how to play it all the way through.
When the band Yes finally get together to play their finished product that they made in the studio and rehearse to play the material for a live gig. They can quite often spot certain parts that are either missing, or they could of been projected better. To be perfectly honest some of the music that Yes produce in the studio is not what some of the players in the band would consider as the finished product. But they only ever finish it when they perform the song live on the stage.
A perfect example of my theory here is the 18 minute 41 second song that appeared on the band’s next album and was self titled track “Close To The Edge” One particular member of the band never considered the song as the final product when you listen to what he does every time he plays it live. That member of the band is the bass player Chris Squire.
Despite the fact that Squire would have no problem playing every note that was on that studio version of the song, he never once played it live where he did not add a few more notes he thought was missing in the first place. To be perfectly honest those extra notes he does add to the song, also makes it a lot better than the studio version.
I am sure most Yes fans would of spotted them a mile off by now. They would of spotted them on their first live album Yessongs too, and they appear the same on every other live recording and live show he ever played. The notes I am referring to are even more than notes, it’s a complete new bass line he created in the middle section of the song to support Wakeman’s pipe organ. It does not appear on the studio album at all.
There is also many songs Steve Howe will add certain effects and other notes to some of the songs too. Though I will confess he was only really successful at doing this in his heyday, and as the years rolled on, he can at times can go over the top with some of his additions to the song, and can even ruin the song for doing so as well in my opinion.
Rick Wakeman adds a few more additives as well to the music on stage. It’s these clever little additions back in their heyday and even later on at some stage that makes many of the Yes songs that much better live than the studio tracks. The very fact that they do take chances and risks on the stage quite often pays off and makes their live shows that much more exiting.
Back To The Album Review.
After the so called Howe effect Wakeman’s piano brings Anderson’s voice back into play over another fine short section then at the 9:09 mark the song lifts back up with its fast bass lines and drums from its repeating opening theme opening section by Squire and Bruford once again injecting the pace, followed by a lovely bit of mellotron once again from Wakeman at the 9 and half minute mark.
Anderson comes back in for a final powerful couple of chorus sections to which the song finally gets ended off with a short burst of its main power driven theme and comes to an halt at 10 minutes 35 seconds, and not the 11 minutes and 39 seconds that the tracks allocated time slot is for at all. This because album ends off with a short reprise of Anderson’s “We Have Heaven” to completely put an end to yet another truly great album.
The 5.1 Mix…
Once again Steven Wilson’s done another superb job on the 5.1 mix that once again completely revives the album and brings it back to life. One of the main advantages a 6 channel system is going to give you over any 2 channel stereo is that you can place certain elements of the instrumentation and vocals and harmonies in certain speakers to allow that much more room regarding the separation and clarity of any mix.
One of the things I love in particular about what Wilson’s done here is separate the harmonies of Howe and Squire very well by placing them in the rear speakers on some of the songs. 1 speaker for Howe and another for Squire. This results in giving you a way better chance of not only hearing what they are saying more clearly, but you also hear the individual characteristics of their voices without taking anything away from the how the original recording. It works very well especially on “Roundabout“. “South Side Of The Sky” and a few others though their voices are not always panned in the rear speakers.
The instrumentation also gets the same treatment and has been very cleverly placed throughout the 6 channels. It’s not only well effective but once again does not take anything away from the original album and is way more detailed breathing a breath of fresh air and new life to the album in every way. He really has done a stunning job on the mixes once again.
The other Blu Ray exclusive feature that I was on about earlier is that it also contains the original 5.1 mix of 2002 DVD Audio Rhino release. I have took a snap of my copy of it I brought in the same year of its release. Pretty sure I paid £20 for this originally from HMV.
From the time I brought this from HMV on High Street in Birmingham’s main shopping centre and stuck it on. I can honestly say it was like I threw my £20 down the drain. The 5.1 mix was done by Tim Weidner and he completely sucked the life out of the album. It was totally washed in reverb, sounded dull for most of its parts, and by the way he had placed all the instruments over the 6 channels in all honesty he never had any idea what he was doing in the first place.
I have actually read some good reviews for this 5.1 mix and all I can say is that I would love to know what systems were these people playing it on, or was there an actual better release of the disc out there or something. It seems to me that when he actually done the mix, he never gave any thought at all in regards to what instruments to place in the rear speakers.
Most of the instruments he did take and place in the rear speakers were all major parts of the stereo field that held the front speakers up in the first place. He would of been better using reflections of some of these instruments rather than taking a few of the major ones from the front end. By doing it the way he did, he very much made a gap in the stereo field, causing the mix to sound mismatched and disjointed in certain parts.
Honestly it’s so unprofessional and it was like he just having fun placing a guitar here, a bass there, and the drums all over the place and sometimes the Bruford’s drums completely fell apart :)))))). I am sure he just placed things willy nilly over all the 6 channels. It was just totally dreadful and made the album Fragile sound totally lifeless.
I am so glad that Steve Wilson had the sense to include Weidner’s mix here so you can make comparisons and get to hear it for yourself. I even stuck it on to have another listen. I got about as far as half way through the opening song “Roundabout” and had to turn the thing off :))))))))) Wilson’s mix leaves it standing in the dust by a mile.
Weidner’s mix also includes Paul Simon’s “America” which was the only bones track on the original DVD Audio. Though I am pretty sure that track only has a stereo mix. But I was pleased to find out that Wilson as also remixed it and even done a 5.1 mix of the song, and it’s included on the new mix of their 1972 album Close To The Edge to which I will be reviewing next.
Summary Of The Fragile Album…
There is no doubt that the album Fragile is another pivotal point of the band’s career by adding more strength to it with the introduction of Rick Wakeman adding to the band’s line up. This particular line up of the band is by far the best line up Yes ever had. They was a driving force to be reckoned with in the world of progressive rock and Yes Music was now stronger than ever.
It was Jon Anderson’s vision and decisions that made both the changes in the band’s line up and he was the one who certainly did the firing. Anderson very much orchestrated the band and seen the many possibilities and the more potential the band could have by bringing in stronger musician’s. It was something that had to be done to be able to maintain the new musical direction the band was going in. They was decisions that truly paid off and made the band that more stronger and gave them more success.
There can be no doubt Steve Wilson has breathed new life back into Yes Music and the album Fragile sounds way better for the new treatment he has given it. There is also no doubt that these recordings are well worth buying again and they do in every way represent the finest quality and sound these album’s have ever had. He has very much breathed more life into these recordings and brought the 70’s band Yes back to life.
The material on Fragile is without doubt another strong body of work that matched up in every way to the material that was on The Yes Album. The written material was of equal strength in my opinion regarding what Yes Music is all about, and the band added another 4 songs to the existing 4 we got from that 1st album. They was in every way doing it all in their own way, and with the new addition of Wakeman doing it even better.
Long time waiting to feel the sound!.
The CD track listing is as follows:
01. Roundabout. 8:33.
02. Cans and Brahms. 1:40.
03. We Have Heaven. 1:39.
04. South Side Of The Sky. 8:00.
05. Five Percent For Nothing. 0:36.
06. Long Distant Runaround. 3:31.
07. The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus). 2:38.
08. Mood For A Day. 2:58.
09. Heart Of The Sunrise. 11:39.
10. Roundabout (Rehearsal Take/Early Mix). 8:08.
11. We Have Heaven (Full Version/Steven Wilson Mix). 2:21.
12. South Side Of The Sky (Early Version/Steven Wilson Mix). 5:12.
13. All Fighters Past ([Steven Wilson Mix). 2:31.
14. Mood for Another Day (Unreleased Take). 3:31.
15. We Have Heaven (Acapella/Steven Wilson Mix). 2:00.