UK ,1971, progressive rock
Yes – Fragile: Yes is very good at elevating the status of rock by embracing classical music, adapting the classical aesthetic to what they’re doing. As we all know, most of the classic prog rock bands were British. Unlike jazz being seen as more important in America, classical music was more prestigious in the UK. I love the playful, clever interludes steeped in classical motifs, but one cannot ignore the majesty of the giant first track, “Roundabout”. For this track, it’s all about the instrumentation, the vocals covering only a fraction of the song. Basically, the lyrics aren’t important. We hear all Yes members’ virtuosity on this track, displaying their instrumental fluency, steeped not only in classical but art-oriented jazz. The song is also all about the concept, and the bigger the better: dramatic contrasts from section to section, the sprawling form of the piece, and the rich and varied textures and rhythms.