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Fragile vs Close To The Edge – 437

Mini Fragile!

Produced by Jeffrey Crecelius, Wayne Hall, Preston Frazier and Bill Govier

This week, Mark and I decided to delve back into the main sequence of Yes albums and think about the pros and cons of Fragile and Close to the Edge. Both contain some fantastic music but which is the more satisfying? Listen to our thoughts and then add yours to the comments below.

  • Which record is ‘better’?
  • What about the solo items on Fragile?
  • Why does Close To The Edge always win in polls?

Listen to the episode and let us know what you think!

My original copy from 1988-ish

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Show notes and links:

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Roger Dean’s live painting:

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  • Jeffrey Crecelius
  • Preston Frazier
  • Bill Govier and
  • Wayne Hall

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Theme music

The music I use is the last movement of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. This has been used as introduction music at many Yes concerts. My theme music is not take from a live concert – I put it together from the following two creative commons sources: thanvannispen and archive.org

21 replies on “Fragile vs Close To The Edge – 437”

Awesome show I mean you have picked two great records to compare to one another.
Of course my personal favorite is of course Close To The Edge, I believe my reason for this is that roundabout was a radio over kill, however And you and I was the only one that would get played of FM radio in the 70’s. Yet they would play Roundabout and a edit version of Long Distance ( without the Fish)
To say that one is better than the other is not really fair but it is indeed funt to do….lol
I do own many different Close to the edge recordings and I also just purchased last year the Fragile vinyl and they are really fantastic to say the least.
Totally enjoyed this trip down memory lane..

Cheers

Paul Tomei

I’ve just had a look, Paul. You have left 181 comments on the YMP show notes. The first one was Christmas Eve in 2011. That’s this long ago:
3115 days or
445 weeks or
102 months or
74,760 hours or
4,485,600 minutes or
269,136,000 seconds

Crikey – you should have some kind of a medal.

Hi Paul,

Thank you for your comments. You made some good points. Roundabout I’m sure was played quite a lot on radio..so it could make Fragile a little less appealing.
Thanks again for your support.

Mark Anthony K
The Yes Music Podcast

Great episode, with fascinating interplay between the two of you, plus some interesting tangents. Your comments about Yes finding a template for future work in “Heart of the Sunrise” were spot on. Thanks also for highlighting the enormous contribution of Eddie Offord to these two classic albums. I’m already looking forward to a few more head-to-head contests: Yes vs. Time and a Word, Relayer vs. Going for the One, Tormato vs. Drama, perhaps even The Ladder vs. Magnification.

As I said on your FB page, CTTE is a masterpiece, and Fragile is a prog classic. Both essential Yes albums, the ones that I suggest to new Yes fans to start with. Among the treasures in my huge Yes collection are 2 copies of both vinyl albums signed by all the members & artist Roger Dean.

Great show, guys – one of your finest, in fact. Full of perceptive points.

I think the band were in the process of several evolutionary leaps at the time: Time And A Word to The Yes Album to Fragile to Close To The Edge. As a result, CTTE is a near enough perfect record. I sometimes cite it as the greatest Prog album of all time, and it’s in my top 5 albums of all time.

However, when we come to a more emotional response, I ‘love’ Fragile more. The last few moments of Heart Of The Sunrise were the first Yes moments I ever heard, and while the solo tracks do weaken the album overall marginally, I would still hold it in my heart as having more resonance (alongside Tormato!) than CTTE, just because it was part of such a life changing discovery.

Interesting (and enjoyable) episode as always – I must admit – it feels like choosing between your two children….you love them both and can’t say which one you love more, but they offer different things that you enjoy them for but they are not the same.
You could have mentioned Pink Floyds Animals as a “1 side song with side two have two other big songs (yes there is a small 2 min opening and closing as well so maybe it doesn’t count)” compared with CTTE – although the musicianship is completely different (although both prog).
Anyway – all good fun – I think CTTE has the edge (pun intended) due to nothing else like it and it can’t be played on the radio….seeing the theme song for CTTE live a few times has always felt like a ‘sit back’ and get ready for a great ride!!

Animals – good call! I love your yardstick of ‘can’t be played on the radio’ – that’s a great way to define the best prog!

Hello everyone. Sorry i’ve not made any comments for such a long time. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the episodes it’s mainly that there’s nothing I can add to the conversation when it comes to Yes politics or their various latter day projects etc. I really enjoyed Fernando’s interview recently and meant to tug your coat tail to say so, then forgot.
This latest episode was right in my wheelhouse. I prefer CTTE for all the reasons that Mark mentions, though covers are the cherry on top, I’d never mark an album up or down based on that. The music is what it’s all about. HOTS is one of the best prog songs of all time but there are only two other songs of note on Fragile, whereas on CTTE the eponymous song and And You and I are both awesome. Imagine if HOTS had been on CTTE rather than the spiky Siberian Khatru? That would surely have made this album unsurpassed. I agree with Kevin that SK has more of the sound world of SSOTS.
The covers are indeed important in spite of what I just said. They are both amazing. I remember spending hours looking at Dean’s covers in record shops back in the mid 70’s until I could afford to buy them. Yessongs was of course the pinnacle of that mesmerising sequence.
While I think it made for an interesting listen, I don’t really see the need to compare pairs of LP’s per se as they don’t necessarily pair up. The first three albums were all so different. Tales could be linked to the two under discussion here but Relayer stands on its own as do all of the subsequent releases with changes of personnel etc.
Comparing live recordings of the same pieces could work though in my opinion that is. Yessongs is a great selection of works and with great energy but the sound quality is very poor and Howe’s use of electric guitar in stead of acoustic on songs like AYAI is a shame. Anyway that’s another topic.
Keep up the good work Kevin and Mark.

By the way have you considered Ko-Fi or PayPal as a means of support? I stopped using Patreon as they add 20% VAT to what I considered to be a donation not payment for a service.

Hi Jeremy and ‘welcome back’ 😉 Thanks for your comments on these amazing albums. I had a feeling you would be commenting. You’ve mentioned Ko-Fi before so I promise to give it a look and Paypal for that matter.

Thanks for this wonderful episode. And all the others, of course, but the discussion of my two favourite Yes albums finally made it impossible to not to comment after faithfully listening for years.
Probably Close to the edge is the better album. But Fragile was the album that first took me into the weird and wonderful landscape of Yes music, full of bright colours, bizarre shapes and intricate textures. It really did make me feel I was stepping into another world, into another landscape, which has become a powerful theme in my experiencing of not just music, but also books, movies and paintings.
It is also in many ways the album that for me defines Yes music.
First of all it completed the definition of Yes musicianship. The first two albums had defined the rhythm section. As in: there shall not be a rhythm section. Messrs Squire and Bruford let it be known that they shall not be keeping time for the rest of the band – the rest of the band can keep their own bloody time. They shall be part of the structure and texture of the music. The Yes Album defined the role of the guitarist as “go any place, anytime!” It also redefined the role of singer, featuring abstract lyrics that were more about the sound of the words than their meaning. The voice as one of the instruments in the band. Fragile, then, finally sealed the destiny of Yes keyboard Octopi through the ages: “Support and lead and link and dazzle!”
Fragile also defined the structure of Yes music itself: on previous albums songs had already contained a multitude of musical ideas, but these were presented sequentially, side by side. Now ideas were flowing around, into and through each other, interacting and developing like themes in classical music.
Next, Fragile of course defined what Yes music looks like, with the appearance of the first Roger Dean visualisation of the musical landscape. One of those albums that I really miss having on vinyl.
Finally, in maybe a slightly bizarre way, Fragile for me also defines Yes music philosophically. The solo pieces are seen by many Yes fans as a weakness of the album, but for me they highlight the delicate balance between the individual contributions of the (forever changing) musicians and the group spirit, always more than the sum of parts. The presence of that group spirit is somehow made explicit in the juxtaposition with the individual spirits of the Yes members at the time.
Sorry, a bit pompous perhaps, but hey, this is Yes…

Thanks Richard – great stuff in your comment. Not pompous at all, certainly compared with some of the stuff I come out with!

Hello and love your show. CTTE was the first album I purchased (1974) and nothing else has ever hit me like that one did. I can’t really chose because for me, the holy trinity is TYA, Fragile and CTTE with Yessongs in there as a ringer. I have to say that I read somewhere recently that the solo bits were put into Fragile because they were under pressure from Atlantic to put out a record and did not have enough music. The only other comment would be that I think they have tried to go back and revisit a record and with Relayer being set up like CTTE I may just be right. Anyway keep up the great work and I always look forward to your podcasts.

Thanks Richard! holy trinity is right! I would be very upset if they had stopped there though and I certainly wouldn’t be doing this podcast!

Interesting discussion, as ever. Watch out for a spirited defence and advocacy of “Five Per Cent for Nothing” on https://yessolidmentalgrace.com soon, however. I argue that it’s a landmark little piece for Bill, packed full of intriguing ideas (in spite of it’s underlying simplicity), an important part of Yes history, and can (maybe should) be heard as the prequel to “Long Distance Runaround”, in the same way that “The Fish” is a natural follow on. The three pieces actually invite us to hear them as one mini-suite, and each of them is enhanced when listened to in that way.

More generally – good discussion between Kevin and Mark, as ever.
For me it’s very hard to avoid the conclusion that the track ‘Close to the Edge’ took Yes music into a whole new dimension. ‘Heart of the Sunrise’ is the bridge between these two important albums, nonetheless.

Regarding the artwork. I’d argue that the cover painting for ‘Fragile’ is *more* sophisticated (because more ambiguous) than much of his later work. Then again, I enjoy Dean’s watercolours (the ‘Fly From Here’ sketches) more than his acrylic, so that is a matter of personal aesthetic taste, too. Unlike many Yes fans, I don’t connect with the whole fantasy/sci-fi world.

Anyway, as always, YMP has got us thinking and talking (and agreeing, and differing). Great stuff, guys.

Thanks Simon. I agree that there’s a lot to unpack in Five Per Cent, despite its length = it’s interesting that Steve Howe seems to think it’s much longer than it is…

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