3. Yes – Fragile (1971)
There’s a kind of magic captured on Fragile which makes it one of my favourite albums of all-time. The focus on strong songwriting and storytelling is nearly unmatched with Yes’ classic line up. The hit single Roundabout aside, proggy songs like South Side of the Sky, Long Distance Runaround, and Heart of the Sunrise showcase some of the best Yes has to offer in their whole catalogue. Yet Fragile also showcases the band members themselves – with five dedicated songs to each one of the musicians in the band. Mood for a Day continues to teach young guitarists fundamentals, while the vocally harmonious We Have Heaven has a reprise in the band’s 1999 album, The Ladder.
The thing about Fragile is that it flows in waves, being bright and cheery, down to moody, then back up again – all the while featuring awesome transitions between songs. South Side of the Sky and Heart of the Sunrise are two of Yes’ best tracks with incredible atmosphere created by their newly acquired keyboardist Rick Wakeman.
I’ve defaulted to Fragile more than once for a solid pick-me-up. Any time this album performs, I’m suddenly a different person – excited as if I’m hearing this album again for the first time. There’s nothing else quite like Yes, and there’s certainly nothing else similar to Fragile.
2. Green Carnation – Light of Day, Day of Darkness (2001)
At just over one hour long, LoDDoD can be considered as a religious experience. I’ve been fortunate to see it performed in its entirety – and it is stunningly awesome. A mix of both doom and progressive metal, LoDDoD has been with me since the beginning of me delving into heavy metal music. There have been many bus trips in my youth where I would listen to this album on repeat; my go-to catharsis.
Although daunting to listen to, there’s much variation in the song. Powerful arrangements featuring stringed instruments, saxophone, and different vocalists, LoDDoD goes through so many powerful emotions to draw the listener in.
The album’s momentous effect on my life rarely gets talked about as I completely understand most people won’t give their time to absorb the intensity the album brings – it requires your complete attention and then asks for your thoughts when it’s done. This is an album that you either get, or you don’t. I’m happy it is a part of my life.
1. Devin Townsend – Terria (2001)
Simply put, Terria is my mind on paper. While I may not share the same personal experiences and hardships as Devin Townsend, I relate to every single one of the songs on the album – front to back. There’s a lot Terria offers, and I could easily write multiple essays on each song, but words could never truly express the connection I have with it.
Terria’s the album I’ve laughed along with the most, thought about the most, and cried along with the most. It’s the album which inspires me to write and perform. With Townsend’s signature “wall of sound” ever so present on the album, I regularly find myself hearing new things on an album I’ve listened to for nearly twenty years.
While the music is not nearly as polished compared to Townsend’s later work, he wore his heart on his sleeve with it. With the semi-goofiness of Earth Day, to the tongue-in-cheek Canada, or the deeply honest Nobody’s Here and Tiny Tears, Terria is both Devin’s and my emotions translated into musical form.
To the uninitiated, the album starts off as very jarring to take on. However, by Deep Peace, the album levels out. By the end, the album comes around full-circle and the jarring feeling is gone. It’s gone because it is understood by the end of the story. In that story, Townsend takes the listener’s hand and carries them along his mental journey. I offered this album my hand years ago and haven’t let go.