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CD Review

Chris Jones


         
         

"Yes in a pub"

I have had the privilege to listen to an advance copy of the first Fragile live album and I would like to take this opportunity to give my opinion.

There are those who would say "what is the point of a tribute band producing an album?". We have plenty of those from the original band and, in all probability, much better. How could a tribute band hope to equal, or even try to improve on, that? Why bother? Surely it will only serve to illuminate the tribute band's relative shortcomings. Until now, I would probably agree with this view.

But that depends on your definition of the word 'tribute'. If you define it as 'copy' or 'clone' then an album by a tribute band is probably a waste of time. If you, in my opinion correctly, define it as 'respect', 'affection' or 'esteem' then Fragile Live At The Half Moon makes a lot more sense. However, this is not the real Yes. It could not be. It is, as has been somewhat negatively quoted before, "Yes in a pub". But, listening to the album, you would never know its origins. However, it is obvious from the start that this was not recorded in a stadium with banks of amplifiers and a multi-million budget. But it is none the worse for that.

 


         
         

"A lump to the throat . . . a tear to the eye"

On second thoughts I was wrong, this is Yes. But it is Yes 30 years ago with the addition of modern technology and a vision of the future. It is not perfect, but have most Yes live albums ever been perfect? Yes, live, is hard enough for Anderson and Co. but, in my opinion, Fragile capture the 'Yes live' atmosphere perfectly with the addition of their own individuality. This adds to, rather than detracts from, the experience.

On first hearing it brings a lump to the throat and, dare I say it, a tear to the eye. I have heard Fragile play live seventeen times but this is a totally new experience. It is so clear and atmospheric. On the negative side this does tend to highlight any possible deficiencies which may not be evident in the environment of a live gig but, as with Yes, this only serves to make it more interesting. I am sure that there are many Yesheads out there who could study it under a microscope and pick out notes and sections that do not exactly match the playing of Yes, but then they would be totally missing the point. If they want a clone of Yes then they should wait for the next Yes tour or listen to a Yes album. But if they want to experience a band of musicians who respect Yes and want to make Yes live music more easily available, then they should listen to Fragile. And they should certainly listen to this album. It is a tribute to Yes music but it is not a note-for-note copy.

 


         
         

"Emotional Roller-coaster"

I could mention every track and criticise or praise them all individually. But what would be the point? Each listener will make up their own mind. We all have our favourites. I can only define the whole experience as an emotional roller-coaster. There are the standards like Roundabout, All Good People, Heart Of The Sunrise and Starship Trooper and, to be honest, an unusual but interesting version of Owner Of A Lonely Heart. But, for me, the highlight of the album is the 30-odd minute medley (tracks 6 to 13) which takes the listener through every emotion in the book. From the soulful experience of Soon through the truly amazing Excerpts From Six Wives (Yesheads take note) to the heart-thumping Yours Is No Disgrace. The album, at nearly 70 minutes, is still far too short.

If, like me, you want to experience a live Fragile gig then there are plenty to choose from in the Roundabout 2000 tour. But to fully appreciate the quality of the band and add to the total Yes experience, make sure you also grab a copy of Live At The Half Moon. You won't be disappointed.

 

Chris Jones

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