In a genre that has become known as “progressive rock”, or “prog rock”, one of the true pioneers of this sound is the British band Yes. The band has gone through many lineup changes and evolutions in style, with the mainstays being elven vocalist Jon Anderson and their legendary bass player Chris Squire. Known for their elaborate, fantastical album covers and long-running instrumental runs, they hit their peak in this era with the 1971 album, “Fragile”.
The album opens with the instantly recognizable song “Roundabout”, the upbeat extended track that showcases the running bass lines of Squire wrapped within Steve Howe’s intricate acoustic and electric guitar. As an extension of their experimentation, they created four songs in unison, and then had each of the five band members contribute a solo composition. Regardless of the source, the music has a very renaissance feel to it, as if we were set in an English countryside or castle several hundred years ago. It may be a bit over the top for some, but I appreciate it for what it is, and definitely applaud the musical talent within the band.
“Long Distance Runaround” is the other major success of this album, once again featuring Anderson on lead vocals, with impressive contributions from Squire and Howe. These major set pieces are the lead components, as shorter individual tracks like Anderson’s “We Have Heaven” and Squire’s “The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus) serving as the transition tracks. All in all, a quirky and unusual album I enjoyed over multiple listens as I laid in bed fighting off fever and sickness. Somehow, it all just worked.