Shop Music // Fragile by Yes

We take bicycles pretty seriously over here at Huckleberry. When someone walks into the shop he or she sees bike after bike and enough apparel to clothe an entire village. Surprisingly, many visitors are more impressed by our turntable setup and wide array of records than our fleet of rides. Just like bicycles we take our music quite seriously. We all bring in a bunch of albums every week, and then take turns playing them, trying to convince everyone else that the music being played is the be-all, end-all of whatever genre or subgenre the band is purported to represent. I am probably most guilty of this. (Ed. note: yes, you definitely are!) When chatting with customers sometimes I realize I am talking more about the record being played rather than what component should be replaced or how wiping off excess chain lube will increase the lifespan of a drivetrain.
If we marry our passions at the shop then why not do the same on the blog? So welcome to the first of many reviews of our Shop Music -- our favorite records spinning at Huckleberry Bicycles. One entry may include an artist or band releasing its first limited run EP, another may be a long lost gem. The music we play runs the gamut from ridiculously silly to ridiculously awesome. Some mornings we will play some greasy organ jazz from Jimmy Smith and then, in the afternoon when the sun is beating down and the store is alive with energy and commotion, who better to provide the soundtrack than the Pointer Sisters?
I want to kick this series off with the masterwork: Fragile by British progsters Yes. To many "prog" is a dirty word. If prog is a dirty word, then uttering the word Yes would probably earn you a lengthy disciplinary sentence. Whereas Rat Scabies could only privately confide to Phil Collins that he actually dug Genesis, we here at Huckleberry are comfortable in waving or prog freak flag high!
Yes kicks off the album with Roundabout -- a perfect microcosm of what Yes is capable of. The song blends nylon string classical guitars with Rick Wakeman's howling organ lines. Jon Anderson's multi tracked vocals soar and the mid-range growl of Chris Squire's Rickenbacker bass form a battering ram with the immortal Bill Bruford's drum work. The song is sprawling, but unlike the A-side of Yes's Close to the Edge or the entirety of Tales from a Topographic Ocean, Roundabout keeps the work concise. The listener is so engrossed in the piece- focusing on the stereo vocals, the slippery electric guitar playing and powerful rhythm section- that it is startling when the reintroduction of the classical guitar work closes the song just as neatly as it set the wheels in motion.
Every song on this record is a tour de force with intricacies enough to necessitate an entire dissertation, so we will forge ahead to the song that bookends the album with Roundabout. Heart of the Sunrise is a workout in ascending and descending bass lines coupled with locked in drumming and virtuoso guitar playing. What makes this song stand out is Yes's ability to engage both the machine-like quality of the introduction with the loose rhythm work that follows. Squire and Bruford are allowed some space to find a groove and stay there. Little by little, pieces are added. Mellotron adding atmosphere, a faint guitar panned to one side, all until the band re-enters the breakneck speed of the technical intro. All groove is lost.

Once the vocals come into the fore, the band re-examines the groove that they introduced earlier in the song. Being a prog band, Yes could not stay locked in for long, as off-time fills are added seemingly at random. A piano enters and the song starts to hit its climax. Anderson's vocals increase in intensity until the crescendo is reached. "I feel lost in this city!" he wails. The band follows with one more musical workout before the song and album reaches its conclusion. We hope you dig this album as much as we do. If you are spinning any music that you think we should be checking out, swing by the shop and let us know or leave a comment below!