SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews
Yes – Fragile – Mobile Fidelity
Published on November 9, 2006
(Jon Anderson, vocals; Bill Bruford, drums & percussion; Steve Howe, electric/acoustic guitars & vocals; Chris Squire, bass guitars & vocals; Rick Wakeman, organ/grand piano/electric piano/harpsichord/Mellotron/synthesizer)
The best-known early Yes album – from 1972 – gave us more than the usual half-hour length of pop albums. It also included one classical track, which wasn’t that unusual for rock albums at the time. It’s a fun little minute-and-a-half assembly – courtesy of Rick Wakeman, who eventually said no to Yes – using various acoustic and electronic keyboards of the main third movement theme of Brahms’ Symphony No. 4. Plus there are three great instrumentals, including the solo acoustic guitar of Steve Howe, miked very closely, on Mood for a Day. The album starts off with Yes’ big hit, Roundabout, and Jon Anderson’s ethereal voice makes the extremely poetic and nonlinear lyrics sound more rational than they really are.
I suggested this reissue for the Hi-Res section even though it’s just a gold CD because I compared it with the original vinyl and it’s definitely better. We include vinyl in the Hi-Res category, after all. I find this Mo-Fi reissue just as fine as the very best xrcds, and we include them as well. The old Mo-Fi sometimes overdid the EQ when doing remasters, accenting some of the “hi-fi” attributes in the original recordings a bit too much. Not so this effort under the new ownership of Music Direct. It has tighter bass end, greater clarity, and the lyrics are much more understandable than on the LP. The bass on the LP sounds boomier and flabbier than the gold CD. One aspect of the reissue is a step backward though: the reduction of the beautiful booklet of Roger Dean’s unique artwork and photography from its 11-inch-tall LP insert to the 4 1/2-inch little booklet with the CD shows the visual advantage offered by all vinyl.
Tracklist: Roundabout, Cans and Brahms, We Have Heaven, South Side of the Sky, Five Per Cent for Nothing, Long Distance Runaround, The Fish, Mood for a Day, Heart of the Sunrise.
– John Henry