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Yes - Close To The Edge CD (album) cover

CLOSE TO THE EDGE

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

4.65 | 3140 ratings

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Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars Close to the Edge is a crowning achievement of progressive rock music for many fans, and while I see their point, I respectfully disagree. For one, I believe there is a superior Yes album out there, and for my own tastes, there are parts in the title track that can conceivably make one cringe; I know the first time I heard it, I wanted to run away screaming (this would be at the 2000 Masterworks tour, where I went only to see Kansas). The day after that concert, I could not get that gentle refrain out of my head: "I get up; I get down." Between that and the chorus of "Starship Trooper," I knew had I to find more out about this strange group. At the time, I thought a six-minute song was lengthy; having heard eight songs in about a two-hour set, I didn't know what to think. My musical horizons had been swiftly and permanently broadened. When I went in search for a "greatest hits" package in order to get a representative sampling of the band, I wound up buying Yessongs. I was initially disappointed in that it was a live album I was hearing (I wanted studio versions), but I credit Yessongs as the album that made me readily familiar with some of their best music, and it prompted to me to begin collecting all the studio albums. Were it not for "Close to the Edge" (and to lesser extent, "Starship Trooper," "Your Move," and "Roundabout"), I might not have delighted myself in countless hours of listening pleasure, despite the song's complexity and how difficult it can be to digest and appreciate. The other two songs on the album are exquisite in their own right, and one would not be doing oneself a favor passing them by. It is challenging to consider a progressive rock music collection complete without Close to the Edge.

"Close to the Edge" Opening up with several seconds of nature sounds, the atmosphere is abruptly broken by the frantic guitar work by Steve Howe, the almost atonal clicking keys of Rick Wakeman, Chris Squire's bass runs, and Bruford's snare-slapping. The beginning of this epic song is fast and frenzied: Howe is all over the neck of his Gibson, interrupted only by the calm but brief interludes of Anderson's voice. After the final choir-like intrusion, Howe plays one of the main riffs of the piece to bring us to the words. The bass guitar pumps through the verses like some growling piston, and Anderson sings his most mystical lyrics yet. Even with all that's going on during the verses, it's difficult not to concentrate on Squire's bass line. The chorus of the song is one of the highlights of all progressive rock. The middle section consists of airy Mellotron, peppered lightly with sitar and bass from the synthesizer. All of the singers are in fine form during one of Yes's best examples of vocal counterpoint; despite Howe being a fairly weak singer, the vocal work of Yes is quite simply not the same without him. Wakeman delivers a haunting church organ section and then, when all is quiet one more time, Anderson sings the refrain. Wakeman's organ and mini-Moog serve as a launch pad for heavy drumming, guitar and bass. Over the music of the first vocal section, Wakeman performs a phenomenal organ solo. The final vocal section is more intense than those prior to it, as it builds to the mind-blowing finale: That final repetition of "Close to the edge, down by the river" is stunning in every respect, never ceasing to have an emotional effect on me. The piece ends as it began, bringing the hearers back to nature.

"And You and I" The harmonics of the twelve-string guitar simulate a player in the middle of checking his instrument to make sure it is in tune. What follows is one of the most gorgeous compositions ever played on twelve strings; it evokes in my mind the image of having gone through a difficult night, but for enduring, getting to watch morning break through the darkness. The verse employs only three chords for quite some time, making this one of the most undemanding parts of the whole album. The following section consists of more counterpoint, with the background vocals sung through a Leslie, which to be honest, makes them hard to understand. The chord progression during this section is amazing, as is the refrain Anderson sings with himself over only Howe's twelve-string. The Mellotron builds and brings the listener to one of the greatest moments in Yes music: Howe's steel guitar and Wakeman's mini-Moog and organ painted on a canvas of Mellotron, bass, and drums. Anderson's vocals soar during this part, and soon Howe reprises his introduction, flowing right into something of a singer-songwriter section. Squire's bass growls as the rest of the band comes back in, building through Wakeman's mini-Moog and some rich vocal work, to the final moments of the song, entitled "Apocalypse," which is merely the refrain from earlier- but is such a lovely, lovely way to end one of Yes's finest pieces.

"Siberian Khatru" The third song opens with a great guitar riff (one that gets fans pumped up at shows when it's the first in the set list), and soon the musicians all come in to produce thick layers of sound. Squire plays a creative bass line under (almost over) Howe's guitar part. Likewise creative are the guitar riffs used for the vocalists to sing over. In fine Yes style, the song features a great example of vocal counterpoint. Wakeman's harpsichord solo is top notch, flanked by two solos from Howe- one on sitar and one on steel guitar. Following the steel guitar part, Howe gives a spirited electric guitar solo. The fantastic aspect of all these little solo spots is that, rather than just highlight the technical proficiency of the respective musicians, they serve as crucial constituents of the piece itself- they all sound just as structured as the rest of the music. There's also some great Mellotron moments not to be missed. The end of the song is based on the main theme from the beginning, during which the singers do some strange vocalizations, and over which Howe gets ample opportunity to show what he can do with six strings.

Epignosis | 5/5 |

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