Join Date: May 2009
Location: Charlottesville, VA
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Review: YES Fragile DVD-a
5.1 and 2.0 hi-rez, DD 5.1 also available
Surround mix: 9
I've been listening to Fragile since mid-70's, so I am intimately familiar with the album. But when I unwrapped the dvd-a and sat back for a listen, it was like a new experience. While the mix is sometimes aggressive in use of surrounds, it still stays true to the music- just expands and clarifies it. The album comprises 5 group efforts and five "solo" pieces, one from each band member, including the newly-arrived keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman. His multi-layered, multi-tracked keyboard take "Cans and Brahms" is a real mch show-off track, w/ different keyboards coming from different speakers- and I've never heard the bass so full on this track as it is on the dvd-a; those organ pedals really penetrate. Bruford's short drum track is the most adventurous, as the sounds cycle around the soundstage. All the songs benefit from a fine surround mix and the increased room for the individual instruments to shine. Yes music is often complicated, full of contrapuntal lines and often w/ 3-or-more part harmonies, so their music really benefits from having the space to differentiate the different instruments and voices. And anyone who knows Yes knows how critical Squire's bass work is to the Yes sound; the bass really shines on this disc. The one track that is less impressive is Howe's guitar solo "Mood for a Day." It doesn't have the fullness I expect of a surround mix, even for a solo instrument. It almost sounds a little compressed; it sounds a little hollow, like he's playing in a huge empty space. This track drops a point off the surround mix score.
I can even listen to Roundabout with this great mix, a song that got burned out for me a while ago; not only was it the most frequently played Yessong on the radio, but it has also been played at EVERY Yes concert I've been to, which is a very considerable number (Starship Trooper and I've seen All Good People/ Your Move have recieved the same fate). But the best tracks (meaning of course the ones I like the most) are Heart of the Sunrise and South Side of the Sky. Neither has a real aggressive surround mix, but they are very well-done. Yes music is very dynamic and during the quieter, airy parts, the mix has me feeling like I'm floating along within the music, absorbed into it's atmosphere, until they bring the hammer down and the power drives right into my chest.
There are some pics available, as well as lyrics to the songs while playing. There is a bonus mix of "America," Yes' reworking of S&G's song that only ever made it onto a compilation LP (Yesterdays), but was a live staple for a time. I love this song and it also sounds great in mch, though slightly marred by some guitar noodling that was unwisely added in a few places. All in all, an excellent package, highly recommended.