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Fragile - Friends (CD)




Acme / Lion





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Original released 1972
Re-issue 2005 Acme / Lion

Fragile is the best pop album reissue I've heard in god knows how long...I really don't think there has been anything as good as this since the Action's Rolled Gold or the Millennium releases. Take track five for instance, a near perfect two-minute song called Memories that I've probably played 30 times in the last week alone. It ends with a refrain as simple and as brilliant as the whole piece's construction, think about life/think about love, and which actually always does make me think about those things, along with the fact that I want to hear it again immediately.

The main Friends in question who recorded it were Peter Howell and John Ferdinando, a couple of Englishmen with a home studio and a penchant for releasing pastoral folk records in ridiculously small quantities during the late-'60s and early-'70s. Fragile is in some ways not as, well, fragile as other projects I've heard by the two, but only because the pop sensibility at play here is just too direct and charmingly infectious.

It's like a less kitschy Free Design, or a Schoolhouse Rock song with an ambiguous moral authority. Peter Howell has been with the legendary BBC Radiophonic workshop since the mid-'70s, so I'll assume it is he that is responsible for the intriguing sonic palette that characterizes Fragile, which manages to be both completely stripped down and lo-fi yet weirdly expansive at the same time. Lovely stuff, and if you dig it be sure to check out their earlier bands Agincourt and Ithaca.