Welcome To AlbumLinerNotes.com
"The #1 Archive of Liner Notes in the World"

Your Subtitle text



Yes began a period of perpetual change with The Yes Album; with Fragile they produced one of the masterpieces of progressive rock and became popular all over the world.

Two words describe much of Fragile’s music: jagged and luminescent – adjectives seldom found together.  Even if the seeds of The Yes Album can be found in the band’s first two records (Yes and Time And A Word), and the seeds of Fragile can be found in The Yes Album, each represents a qualitative leap.  Each reminds us that there was a period, in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, when a handful of rock acts went from strength to strength.  Inspired by The Beatles, especially, and having their ears open to the whole world of music, these groups created new possibilities in rock, and some, of course, claimed to have left the genre altogether.

One of the most important of these groups was Yes, and with Fragile they began to realize their true potential.  Most obviously, the addition of keyboardist Rick Wakeman (replacing Tony Kaye) made them a virtuoso collective.  Though not credited, Wakeman contributed compositionally on “South Side Of The Sky” and “Heart Of The Sunrise”; his arrangement skills helped his fellow bandmembers pursue their idiosyncratic styles with ever greater freedom.  The luminescence of this album derives in large part from five unique voices woven into a startling unity – a rare combination, itself expressive of the utopian spirit that inspired the music.

Outside of the U.K. (in North America, certainly), “Roundabout” was the first Yes experience for many people, and a fine introduction it was.  Such a lovely song, especially in its full-length version.  All of the Yes elements are here: invention, sweetness, and wistfulness, bright colors that are more Sibelius and Stravinsky than “pop,” and not without an edge – “Next to your deeper fears we stand/Surrounded by a million years.”  And yes, that jaggedness is even more evident in “South Side Of The Sky” and “Heart Of The Sunrise.”

The primary source of this razor-sharp, sometimes stabbing sound was bassist Chris Squire.  On the first three Yes albums, his influences were apparent enough – I would call it the “English school” of bass-guitar playing: Paul McCartney, Jack Bruce, John Entwistle.  But a further leap in this style of up-front, contrapuntal playing that provided independent melodies and countermelodies, never down in the mix, had been percolating since Yes, and with Fragile all bonds were sundered.  Melodically, harmonically, rhythmically, and in tonal range and colors, everything in the music had to take account of this leap in the role of what many regard (if they regard it at all) a “background” instrument.

Squire did something great for the bass and for rock music, but his partners also did something great, by being able to reconfigure their conceptions.  Indeed, for those of us who heard Yes for the first time when “Roundabout” became a hit single in 1972, the gauntlet was thrown down: Listeners and players, open your ears!  And get down to work!  There was nothing about that song that had ever been heard on the radio – not in rock music, not in any music.  Sure, all sorts of rock artists were fooling around with classical structures, with jazz-inspired improvisations, with synthesizers and Mellotron and lyncs that went quite beyond standard adolescent preoccupations.  But Yes brought both artfulness and originality to these pursuits, and it can truly be said, for all five members, that no one else in rock music sounded like any of them.  In “Roundabout,” perhaps the sounds most characteristic of this uniqueness are Squire’s bizarre “spring” (no bassline had ever sounded like that before), Bill Bruford’s snareless-snare “bonk,” and Jon Anderson’s singular voice, in the stratosphere of the male register and yet substantial, never strained or shrieking.

Luminescence, but, within that, darkness.  Jagged, and yet somehow liquid.  The three longer works – “Roundabout,” “South Side Of The Sky,” and “Heart Of The Sunrise” – exemplify these qualities with great depth and craft.  The jaggedness on “South Side” originates more from Steve Howe’s blazing guitar runs than from Squire.  It is a mark of the guitarist’s greatness that he can exercise control, even as his instrument sounds like it’s about to break free from him.  Lyrically what’s strange about the song is its tragic tale, a polar expedition that ends in death by freezing.  And even what might seem to be the “new-agey” release from the story line’s harshness, the passage “it seemed from all of eternity” (and the middle, wordless-voiced section, where the gates of heaven seem to open to the explorers) only deepens this tragic vision.

Speaking on the level of musical form, has there ever been better synthesis of jazz and Western classical elements than in “South Side’s” middle section, with Rick Wakeman’s rich piano and Bruford’s hypersyncopated drums?  Some music is supposed to fall apart; that’s its idea.  Yes has another idea; music that might fall apart – because it isn’t overly clear what holds it together – but somehow stays intact.

Yes has many "sleeper" songs, from “A Venture” (The Yes Album, 1971) to “To Be Over” (Relayer, 1974) to the more recent “Footprints” (Keys To Ascension 2, 1997), “Long Distance Runaround” is also a little gem, where a single idea unfolds perfectly.  Fragile is built around four group and five solo works, of which Steve Howe’s “Mood For A Day” and Chris Squire’s “The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)” especially stand out.  The former is a warm and delicious classical guitar work, that has since become part of the instrument’s basic repertoire.  The latter track opened possibilities for “symphonies of bass guitars” (here echoing the title of Stravinsky’s work for wind instruments) that still need to be pursued.

The album closes with “Heart Of The Sunrise,” a study in dynamic contrasts that runs the gamut from “21st Century Schizoid Man”-inspired furious charging to dreamy pastoralism of the sort that can only come from feeling “lost in the city.”  The song is a fine work in itself but it’s also an appropriate elaboration of the green language into which Yes entered ever more deeply – a language of English romanticism, of William Blake specially, against the background of and attempting to speak with the counterculture of the time.  “Ten true summers” have passed three times over since we first heard this significant musical statement, but time has not diminished its power or necessity.

– Bill Martin

Bill Martin is the author of numerous books on music and political philosophy, including Music Of Yes: Structure And Vision In Progressive Rock (1996).  His essay “Another Green Language: Still Yes After All These Years” appeared in Elektra/Rhino’s boxed set In A Word: Yes (1969-).  He is a professor of philosophy at DePaul University, Chicago.

(Jon Anderson/Steve Howe)
© 1972 (Renewed) Topographic Music Ltd. (PRS)
WB Music Cusp. (ASCAP) administers all rights on behalf of Topographic Music Ltd.
Also issued as Atlantic single [edit] #2854 (1/72)


(Extracts from Brahms’ 4th Symphony in E minor, Third Movement)
(Arranged by Rick Wakeman)

(Jon Anderson)
© 1972 (Renewed) Topographic Music Ltd. (PRS)
WB Music Corp. (ASCAP) administers all rights on behalf of Topographic Music Ltd.


(Jon Anderson/Chris Squire)
© 1972 (Renewed) Topographic Music Ltd. (PRS)
WB Musk Corp. (ASCAP) administers all rights on behalf of Topographic Music Ltd.


(Bill Bruford)

(Jon Anderson)
© 1972 (Renewed) Topographic Music Ltd. (PRS)
WB Music Corp. (ASCAP) administers all rights on behalf of Topographic Music Ltd.
Atlantic single [b-side] #2854 (1/72)

(Chris Squire)

(Steve Howe)


(Jon Anderson/Chris Squire/Bill Bruford)
© 1972 (Renewed) Topographic Music Ltd. (PRS)
WB Music Corp. (ASCAP) administers all rights on behalf of Topographic Music Ltd.



(Paul Simon)
© 1968 Renewed 1996, Paul Simon Music, (BM1)
First issued on The New Age Of Atlantic, Atlantic [UK] #20024 (7/72)
Also issued as Atlantic single [edit] #2899 (7/17/72)

11. ROUNDABOUT (Early Rough Mix)
(Jon Anderson/Steve Howe)
[Previously Unissued]

All Songs Copyright Renewed. All Rights Reserved.
International Copyright Secured. Used by Permission

Fragile was first issued as Atlantic #7211 (1/4/72)

Five tracks on this album are the individual ideas, personally arranged and organised, by the five members of the band.  “Cans and Brahms” is an adaptation by Rick Wakeman on which he plays
electric piano taking the part of the strings, grand piano taking the part of the woodwind, organ taking the brass, electric harpsichord taking reeds, and synthesizer taking contra bassoon.  “We Have Heaven” is a personal idea by Jon Anderson in which he sings all the vocal parts.  “Five Per Cent For Nothing" is a sixteen bar tune by Bill Bruford, played twice by the group, and taken directly from the percussion line.  In Chris Squire’s “The Fish,” each riff, rhythm, and melody is
produced by using the different sounds of the bass guitar.  Steve Howe concludes with a solo guitar piece “Mood For A Day.”

The remaining tracks on the album are group arranged and performed.

I would like to thank – Rosaline Wakeman, Mr. & Mrs. C. Wakeman and complete family tree, Mrs. Symes, Mr. Herrera, the Atlantic Blues, the Concord Quartet, the Royal College of Music, The Strawbs and Roadies, David Katz, The Ronnie Smith Band, James Royal, A&M Records, The Music Press, Dan Wooding, David Bowie, Brian Lane, Lew Warbourton, Stanley Myers and all Session Mo’s, Tony Brainsby, Keith Goodwin, The Yes and Roadies, Annakata Music, Paramount, Screen Gems, All the London Recording Studios and Engineers, Essex Music, Tony Visconti, Gus Dudgeon, Jon Anthony, Eddie Offord, The Musical Bargain Centre, The Tony Dee Showband, South Harrow Baptist Church, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Arnolo, Martin and Morrow, Sid Sax, Charlie Katz, All session Musicians, The White Bear Hounslow, The BBC, Colin Spiers, Roy Shea, Ex-members and Performers of Booze-Proof (White Hart Acton), Becky Appold, Jon Schroeder, God Bless Brentford Football Club, Ken Scott, Piglet, the Top Rank Reading, The Woolfords, The Spinning Wheel, Roger Dean, Staff and Pupils of Drayton Manor County Grammar School and all my friends off and on the road too numerous to mention for helping to further my career either deliberately or by accident.
P.S. One future offspring.  Love to Everybody.

– Rick Wakeman

Jon Anderson – Vocals
Bill Bruford – Drums, Percussion
Steve Howe – Electric and Acoustic Guitars, Vocals
Chris Squire – Bass Guitars, Vocals
Rick Wakeman – Organ, Grand Piano (Electric Piano and Harpsichord) Mellotron, Synthesizer

Produced by YES and Eddie Offord

Engineered by Eddie Offord assisted by Gary Martin

All titles except “Cans and Brahms” published by YESSONGS

Sleeve and booklet Paintings, Design, Photography
and Logos by and © 1972 Roger Dean

(Colour photograph of Bill Bruford on drums by David Wright)

Recorded at Advision Studios, London, September 1971

Rick Wakeman appears courtesy of A&M Records Limited

Reissue Supervision: Steve Woolard and David McLees

Sound Produced by Bill Inglot

Remastering: Dan Hersch and Bill Inglot at Digiprep

Product Manager: Marc Salata

Editorial Supervision: Cory Frye

Liner Notes Coordination: Tim Scanlin

Reissue Layout: Bryan Lasley with Greg Allen

Photography: Roger and Martyn Dean

Project Assistance: April Mick, Randy Perry, Leigh Hall, Ginger Dettman and Steven Chean

Special Thanks: Clifford W. Loeslin and Don Williams

YesWorld, The Yes Online Service

This Reissue (P) 2003 Elektra Entertainment. © 2003 Warner Strategic Marketing, 3400 W. Olive Ave., Burbank, CA 91505. Warner Music Group, an AOL Time Warner Company. Printed in U.S.A.

R2 73789


Website Builder