Yes launched full tilt into progressive rock with 1971’s Fragile, rush-released to pay for new member Rick Wakeman’s arsenal of keyboard instruments. To pad out the album, each member was required to contribute a solo piece, with mixed results; I like Bruford’s short freak-out ‘Five Per Cent For Nothing’ and Squire’s bass symphony ‘The Fish’ is entertaining, but overall these solo pieces break up the flow.
The remainder of Fragile is often awe inspiring; ‘Roundabout’, ‘South Side Of The Sky’ and ‘Heart Of The Sunrise’ are three excellent epics, each capturing the band in different moods. ‘Roundabout’ is bouncy, ‘South Side Of The Sky’, about a doomed polar expedition, has a harder edge, while ‘Heart Of The Sunrise’ has vulnerability with Anderson’s plea that he feels “lost in the city.”
Fragile is a very strong record, but the disjointed nature of the solo tracks is enough to keep it out of the top tier of Yes albums.