The album Fragile is secretly a Concept Album.Why? The explanation: The concept is a loose Rock Opera about a group of astronaut pioneers discovering a new planet and establishing a settlement there. First, there is the famous cover art illustrating a spacecraft hovering over a fictional planet, and the back side showing the planet exploding in an ecological disaster. Second, each song represents a stage in the development of the community being built on the planet. And in more detail:
- "Roundabout" summarizes the beginning of the journey and has a strong spirit of excitement and adventure.
- "Cans and Brahms", being an extract from a classical composition, represents the space travel as a reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey, in which classical music was used as the soundtrack for spaceflight scenes.
- "We Have Heaven" Represents the discovery of a life-supporting planet, and the lyrics, mentioning unknown species of animals, refer to the rich ecosystem found there.
- "South Side of the Sky" - tells about the challenges the settlers had to face while establishing the settlement (For example, challenging climate: "Around the south side, so cold that we cried...")
- "Five Per Cent for Nothing" and "Long Distance Runaround"... Well, I haven't got the faintest idea what they're supposed to be about, so I'll leave them out the theory..
- "Mood for a Day", as the title implies, represents the daily life going on in the colony.
- Finally, "Heart of the Sunrise"... This complex track tells about the doubts that come up in the colonists' minds later on. The lyrics could be explained as telling about the concerns coming up in an urban society ("Straight light moving and removing of the colour sun shine" could be about the natural light being blocked by artificial light), or about the fate of humanity in such a society that makes everything look mundane - nothing is left to discover. It also could be explained as a search for spirituality in such an urbanized world which once was unfamiliar and mysterious ("Love comes to you and then after \Dream on on to the Heart of the Sunrise", "I feel lost in the city"...)
- The End.
- Here's where This Troper fills in the holes:
- "Five Per Cent for Nothing": An interlude before they find a better settlement?
- "Long Distance Runaround": The colonists realize the planet is not devoid of civilization, as a group of natives declare war on the colonists ("long time waiting to feel the sound": anticipating the weapon fire of the natives, etc).
- "The Fish": Again, doesn't really fit well in there, but perhaps it's heard during a drug trip using local substances, or perhaps a melody and chant to pray to a god.
- Hey, those were good suggestions. Got to admit I forgot "The Fish" out of the list originally...
- Music critic George Starostin believes that Fragile is secretly a concept album about movement, generally. The lyrics repeatedly reference it, and the songs are very upbeat and "moving-y".
Drama is actually an Affectionate Parody of the band itselfOkay, so Trevor Horn came into the band from The Buggles as an Ascended Fanboy, and so in writing the lyrics for Drama, maybe he decided to make it about Yes itself. So if that's the case, here's my analysis of Drama's lyrics song-by-song:
- "Machine Messiah": A deconstruction of their "Close to the Edge". Thematically, they both deal with issues of faith, spirituality and making a new life for oneself, but while "Close to the Edge" portrays this as good, "Machine Messiah" has the singer's blind faith in the machine lead him into the figurative fire. Even the song structures are similar- multi-part epics that are the longest songs on their respective albums, but where "Close to the Edge" has elaborate section names ("The Seasons of Man", "Total Mass Retain", etc), "Machine Messiah" has...Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
- "White Car": About the Revolving Door Band nature of the band- in particular, about Rick Wakeman's constant entering then quitting the band, which he had already done twice by the time of Drama. Notably, by this point in Yes, Geoff Downes was the band's fourth keyboardist (fifth if you count Wakeman's second period with the band).
- "Does it Really Happen": Remember the band's debut album, The Yes Album? Wait, you mean there were two Old Shame albums before that? Nope, they didn't really happen.
- "Into the Lens": Roger Dean's famous album covers, and how they have become so iconic of the band. Notably, Drama marked the first time a Dean cover would return after a period of using someone else (Union and Fly From Here did the same thing later). The references to "here by the waterside" in particular seem to me to be referring to the seascape of the Tales From Topographic Oceans cover.
- "Run Through the Light": The over-ambition of Tales From Topographic Oceans. Chasing the all-important light- what is the light representing? Well, the listener has read their Eastern religious scripture so we don't need to explain it, right?
- "Tempus Fugit": The band's name itself. What are they answering Yes to? What was the actual question? Well, this song answers what they're saying YES to- their true love of...Word Salad Lyrics!
Had 90125 been a Cinema album with the same songs, the sides would be reversed.
- Side 2 of 90125 opens with the instrumental "Cinema" (an appropriate fanfare for the new band) launching right into the Lyrical Cold Open of "Leave It". Had Cinema chosen to self-title their album this would have packed a big one-two punch. "Our Song" and "City of Love" are two hard-hitting rockers with slight prog-rock tendencies, and "Hearts" is a nice slow-burning epic to cool down the first side with.
- Then you flip the record over and "Owner of a Lonely Heart" is another hard hitter, as does "Hold On". "It Can Happen" is a little more experimental in places, which sets up for the grand finale of "Changes"—an Epic Instrumental Opener, excellent opportunities for a Rabin/Squire Vocal Tag Team, and a jarring reprise of the opening theme to end the album.