Yes Fragile on 180g LP
“I wanted to hear something inspiring.” With Fragile – the fourth album by Yes, Jon Anderson's wish was fulfilled. Recorded in September 1971 following rehearsals a month earlier Yes was, by this point, on something of a roll. The Yes Album had been a chart success in the UK and had started to make inroads in the US album charts following a highly successful tour there. The challenge – to take the band to the next level of success – had to be met quickly to build on that momentum.
The Yes Album was both the peak and natural end point of the first period of Yes album recordings. It had marked the arrival of Steve Howe, the expansion into long-form material and the departure of keyboardist Tony Kaye. His replacement, ace session player and Strawbs member, Rick Wakeman, completed what came to be regarded as the first classic Yes line-up. Wakeman brought with him an expanded array of keyboards, including a Moog synth and Mellotron and proved every bit as strong a soloist and arranger as Howe. With this line-up, Yes was ready for the big leagues.
Released in late 1971 in the UK and at the beginning of 1972 in the US, the album reached the Top 10 in both countries (7 UK, 4 US). With additional impetus from the hit single "Roundabout" in the US – a track which became a radio staple – the album quickly reached platinum status and went on to sell millions over the past 45 years. The album's long form pieces were presented in a running order which allowed for the placement of solo led tracks by each of the five members, a novel way of presenting an album that merely enhanced the reputation of the band as a group where each member could be viewed as band member and star soloist in their own right.
Tracks such as "Roundabout" and "Heart of the Sunrise" have rarely been out of the live set-list and the album was performed in full by Yes in venues worldwide in recent years to unanimous standing ovations. Another key factor in Yes' history was the fact that the album occasioned the arrival of sleeve artist extraordinaire, Roger Dean, a man who would go on to design logos for the band – including the famous ‘bubble logo' – stage sets and numerous album sleeves. Despite having provided equally dramatic sleeves for numerous other bands, Dean is always most readily associated with his work for Yes.