Friday, November 26, 1971

Yes released Fragile



Released: November 26, 1971

Peak: 4 US, 7 UK, 6 CN, 29 AU

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.3 UK, 2.3 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: progressive rock


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Roundabout (Anderson, Howe) [8:29] (2/12/72, 13 US, 1 CL)
  2. Cans and Brahms (instrumental: extracts from Brahms’ 4th Symphony in E Minor) (Johannes Brahms, arranged by Wakeman) [1:35]
  3. We Have Heaven (Anderson) [1:30]
  4. South Side of the Sky (Anderson, Squire) [8:04]
  5. Five Per Cent for Nothing (instrumental) (Bruford) [0:35]
  6. Long Distance Runaround (Anderson) [3:33] (6 CL)
  7. The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus) (Squire) [2:35]
  8. Mood for a Day (instrumental) (Howe) [2:57]
  9. Heart of the Sunrise (Anderson, Squire, Bruford) [10:34] (22 CL)

Total Running Time: 39:52

The Players:

  • Jon Anderson (vocals, percussion)
  • Chris Squire (bass, vocals)
  • Steve Howe (guitar)
  • Rick Wakeman (keyboards)
  • Bill Bruford (drums, percussion)


4.511 out of 5.00 (average of 8 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

With Fragile, “the band’s breakthrough album,” BE “Yes established themselves as one of the most progressive rock bands on the scene.” PC “Dominated by science-fiction and fantasy elements,” BE the band “raised their innovative brand of music to even dizzier heights.” PC This was largely due to “the recent addition of towering, silver-caped Rick Wakeman,” PC whose “proficiency and classical leanings were the final piece in the jigsaw.” AD His “organ, synthesizers, Mellotrons, and other keyboard exotica added a larger-than-life element,” BE to the group and helping Yes toward “creating the kind of music they’d always had in their minds.” AD

“Ironically, the album was a patchwork job, hastily assembled in order to cover the cost of Wakeman’s array of instruments.” BE In a truly prog-rock kind of move, much of the album served as solo showcases for the band. “A repeating vocal refrain with beautiful harmonies to back it up” AD makes We Have Heaven both a songwriting and vocal showcase for Jon Anderson. AD “It’s a one and a half minute moment of sheer beauty.” AD

“Rick Wakeman fiddles around with a classical theme” AD on Cans and Brahms while drummer Bill Bruford offers his solo writing contribution with Five Per Cent for Nothing. Bassist Chris Squire gets his spotlight with The Fish, an instrumental showcase backed by Anderson’s “nonsense vocal refrains in the background.” AD Finally, Steve Howe gets a solo spot with Mood for a Day, a piece which offers “an exotic and lovely guitar section.” AD

However, the group also “built effectively on the groundwork left by The Yes Album.” BE Heart of the Sunrise featured “varied constituents molded together perfectly.” PC It has “a lengthy introduction that builds up with keyboards and bass guitar with Bill Bruford providing solid support underneath. Close to the two minute mark, the guitar starts to prowl over the top of all of this before we enter an impossibly quickly taken section of instrumental music with everyone going full tilt…Three and a half minutes pass before we hear anything from Jon Anderson!...The song switches several times through it’s remaining half but always retains the listener’s interest.” AD

Other group collaborations include the oft-played Long Distance Runaround, “another fine piece of work.” AD On South Side of the Sky, “the bass is groovy as hell [and] the guitar [is] full of inventive riffing…The piano section in the middle with added vocal harmonies provides the beauty…before we go back to the rocking bass and guitar to close.” AD

The album highlight came with the opening Roundabout. It served up “an AM-radio sucker-punch, aimed at all of those other progressive bands who eschewed the notion of hit singles.” BE “Still a standard on classic rock playlists,” PC “the single clicked” BE and “pulled in millions of young kids who’d never heard them before.” BE “and the band was made.” BE “If you are wondering how to introduce Yes to a friend…then just play them this song.” AD

The album also marked Yes’ notable association with artist Roger Dean. He would provide the group with “some of the most famous album artwork of all time.” AD

Notes: A 2003 reissue added the band’s cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “America” and an early mix of “Roundabout.” A 2005 reissue added alternate versions of “Roundabout,” “We Have Heaven,” “South Side of the Sky,” “Mood for a Day,” and the song “All Fighters Past.”

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First posted 3/25/2008; updated 7/24/2021.

Saturday, November 20, 1971

Isaac Hayes hit #1 with “Shaft”

Theme from Shaft

Isaac Hayes

Writer(s): Isaac Hayes (see lyrics here)

First Charted: September 24, 1971

Peak: 12 BB, 12 CB, 12 GR, 12 HR, 6 AC, 2 RB, 4 UK, 11 CN, 7 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 23.0 video, 61.88 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“The blaxploitation movies of the ’70s…were cheap movies, made quickly…[but] a lot of the lead performances — the ones from Pam Grier, Jim Brown, Fred “The Hammer” Williamson — are absolutely magnetic.” SG “But most of them are not pure cinematic wonders, except on one aspect. That aspect is music.” SG These “formulaic movies had soundtracks from straight-up black-pop geniuses, all working at or near their peaks.” SG

The best of them all may have been Shaft, a “tough and terse detective movie with a charismatic performance from the then-unknown Richard Roundtree” SG and a theme song from Isaac Hayes. He was “a self-taught visionary who was right in the midst of remaking soul music in his own image.” SG He “grew up dirt-poor in Tennessee,” SG eventually working as a keyboardist, arranger, and songwriter at Stax Records, the “sweaty, grimy alternative to what Motown was doing at the time.” SG

Hayes “established the blueprint for an influential new funky stew” TB in which R&B shifted “towards fun and towards a jazzier, blacker sound.” TC He dug up a cut he’d made a year earlier. TB The resulting “Theme from Shaft”was “a stunning and ambitious and deeply funky piece of beautiful silliness” SG in which Hayes was in on the joke. He “figured out how to communicate everything you needed to know…about the movie, about the character, and about the entire nascent genre of films.” SG

Musically, the song “keeps piling on new elements…it’s a groove that keeps expanding.” SG Lyrically, Hayes croons praises “in his rumbling bass voice” TC about “the black private dick who’s a sex machine to all the chicks,” SG knowing he’s being “both massively cool and deeply goofy.” SG “There’s a humor in his interplay with the backing singers, the ones who crow ‘shut your mouth’ when he starts to cuss.” SG


First posted 1/18/2024.

Monday, November 8, 1971

Led Zeppelin “The Battle of Evermore” released on fourth album

The Battle of Evermore

Led Zeppelin

Writer(s): Jimmy Page, Robert Plant (see lyrics here)

Released: November 8, 1971 (album cut on Led Zeppelin IV)

First Charted: --

Peak: 9 CL, 11 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 6.99 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Led Zeppelin’s “The Battle of Evermore,” an acoustic track from their fourth album, is unique in the band’s catalog in that it is the only song to enlist an outside guest vocalist. UCR Singer/songwriter Sandy Denny, from the British folk-rock band Fairport Convention, duets with Robert Plant on the “elegiac folk ballad” UCR “about the everlasting battle between night and day, which can also be interpreted as the battle between good and evil.” SF

The song was inspired by a book Plant was reading about the Scottish wars. UCR There are also various lines which fans have interpreted as allusions to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings with references to the Dark Lord and the Ringwraiths and potentially the elf-queen Galadriel (“Queen of Light”). Plant is a Tolkien fan, having also referenced his work in “Ramble On” and “Misty Mountain Hop.” There are also references to King Arthur in lines like “I’m waiting for the angels of Avalon.” SF

Guitarist Jimmy Page came up with the music on the spot when he picked up John Paul Jones’ mandolin, an instrument he’d never played before. UCR He said, “it sounded like an old English instrumental first off. Then it became a vocal.” UCR Plant explained that it was a story with two parts, an “impending sort of travesty” and “the triumph and the rallying.” UCR

His initial effort to sing both parts didn’t sound right, so they recruited Denny. As he “narrates the battle…Denny…serves as the town crier, interjecting in her haunting croon.” UCR Denny said, “We started out soft, but I was hoarse by the end trying to keep up with him.” UCR


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Last updated 1/13/2023.

Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” released on Led Zeppelin IV

Stairway to Heaven

Led Zeppelin

Writer(s): Jimmy Page, Robert Plant (see lyrics here)

Performed: November 8, 1971 (as an album cut)

First Charted: November 24, 2007

Peak: 30 US *, 1 CL, 37 UK, 17 CN *, 1 DF (* digital song chart) (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.7 US, 0.6 UK, 10.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 166.0 video, 618.38 streaming

Stairway to Heaven


Performed: December 26, 2012

Peak: 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.2 (sheet music)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 85.0 video, -- streaming

Awards (Led Zeppelin):

Click on award for more details.

Awards (Heart):

About the Song:

“The ultimate heavy metal band rose out of the ashes of the Yardbirds” SS in the late ‘60s. Guitarist Jimmy Page was the last remnant of the at band and recruited singer Robert Plant, bassist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham to be what was intended to be the new Yardbirds. Instead, they forged a new identity as one of the most successful bands of all time.

The built a huge following as an album act and live band. “Dazed and Confused” was the centerpiece of Led Zeppelin’s early live performances SJ but when they tired of it, the group set about creating another anthem. Little did they know that they would birth the song against which “all epic anthems must measure themselves.” RS500 The song consistently tops classic rock radio best-of lists and no song has received more airplay in the history of FM radio. KN It has also sold over a million copies of sheet music, averaging 15,000 a year. WK Astonishingly, the song is “sturdy enough to withstand and rise above all the overexposure.” SS

“Stairway to Heaven” was arguably the pinnacle of rock album marketing. Rock albums had been collections of singles, B-sides, and fillers, but in the late ‘60s, groups like the Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin, started marketing albums as a whole and promoting them with songs at radio that were never released as singles. It was “a brilliant marketing ploy” HL implying “their work was some how more durable and that their albums had to be taken as a creative whole.” HL It also meant record buyers had to buy entire albums instead of singles.

Atlantic Records certainly pushed for a single for “Stairway to Heaven,” but the band refused to edit the song down from its eight-minute running time. WK The only chart appearance for “Heaven” came in 2007 when it hit #37 on the UK charts, prompted by downloads of the song in conjunction with the release of the Led Zeppelin Mothership compilation. WK

The song kicks off with “an acoustic intro that sounds positively Elizabethan.” RS500 Plant then leads the listener through a “quasi-medieval story” TC drawing influence from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and “full of allusions that go nowhere.” TC She “seems to represent the ‘everyperson’ in search of truth, but distracted and tempted along the way be deceit and greed” SS although Plant says it is “about a woman who gets everything she wants without reciprocating.” TC It doesn’t matter much wat the song is about when it’s “couched in such a stately tune and performance.” TC Besides, “the song’s enigma is part of its charm.” TC

Plant largely improvised the lyrics sitting in front of a roaring fireplace SS while Page taught Bonham his drum part. HL Page says the song “crystallized the essence of the band…Every musician wants to do something of lasting quality, something which will hold up for a long time, and I guess we did it with ‘Stairway.’” RS500

In 2012, Led Zeppelin were celebrated with the Kennedy Center Honors. The band Heart gave a notable performance, complete with a full-fledged choir, of “Stairway to Heaven” that had Jimmy Page grinning ear to ear and a very subdued Robert Plant wiping away a tear.


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Last updated 4/14/2023.