Yes, “Cans and Brahms” from Fragile (1971): YESterdays

Share this:

Part of the reason Yes’ 1971 album Fragile is a hallmark in the world of progressive rock is the production of Eddie Offord.

The album was initially envisioned as a double album of original compositions for the entire band, and Yes gave serious consideration to recording it in America using an outside producer. Perhaps as fortune would have it, Yes was under strict time and budgetary constraints, having to record the album in about a month in Advision Studios in London. Offord was able to make the not-so-easy pieces composed for the album seemingly fit together.

The results were strong. However, there were no songs that were written by the entire band. Four of the songs on Fragile make my Top 20 favorite Yes song of all time. Unfortunately, “Cans and Brahms” – the Rick Wakeman arrangement of the third movement of Symphony No. 4 in E minor by Johannes Brahms – makes my list of my least favorite songs by the world’s greatest progressive rock band.

Granted, it’s hard to imagine Tony Kaye employing electric piano, electric harpsichord and a Moog synthesizer to produce the orchestral sounds Rick Wakeman crafts on tracks like “Can and Brahms.” Still, Wakeman’s individual piece seems more like a minute and a half of filler.

Wakeman has claimed over the years that he was unable to provide Yes any original compositions due to his solo record deal and publishing. That, if true, is unfortunate. As it stands, Yes’ Fragile is a great album which could have been even greater with a Rick Wakeman original.

Preston Frazier’s YESterdays is a song-by-song feature that explores the unforgettable musical legacy of Yes. The series runs every other Tuesday.

Share this: