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Yes - Close to the Edge CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.67 | 4621 ratings

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5 stars ahhh... 11:15pm on a Sunday night... what the hell am I doing up. Can't sleep. Rather than debate the pros and cons about whether Van Morrison and Madame George constitutes prog rock and needs to be added here. I decided a review would be a nice way to put to me sleep. (cut me some slack.. it was this or a damn Genesis album hahah)

For anyone sufficiently bored enough to follow my infrequent reviews. I tend to stay away from albums like this. I like my reviews to be promotions of lesser known albums for the most part. This album has been reviewed, over 900..yes.. 900 times. If you are on this site, come on, you know this album probably reviewed it long before I did. So why am I reviewing it, first off to get a new prog card from Robert. Second to maybe put a new spin on what is the defining piece of progressive rock. Forgive me if one of the other 900 reviewers has been down this road. I haven't read them to see. Indulge me.

With due respect to side 2 and the wonderful pieces of music we have on there, the fame and glory of this album rest on side 1 with the nearly 19 minute title track. One of more defining.. yet at the same time moth eaten prog cliches is the side long epic. Of course other groups had tried them before. Some were just extended instrumental jams where stucture and composition were an afterthought. Most were of the cut and paste variety. Song vignettes of several minutes apiece strung together with instrumental bridges. What made Close to the Edge so powerful.. and at the same time so was that it was a single 19 minute composition. The dangers inherent in that are obvious if you take any time at all to consider the music.. and the prospective audience. There is no way to quantify musical quality.. or is there? The proof is in the numbers.. and in the logic. Take a piece like Supper's Ready that some would proclaim to greatest side-long ever. Say there is a piece that doesn't really catch the listeners ear.. it is no problem.. Willow Farm is right around the corner. By the time you've grabbed a ham sandwich.. the musical context has changed. The listener is happy and goes on his merry way. With Close to the Edge.. not so fast. If the merry men of Yes hadn't paid extreme attention to perfection on that song and crafting a near flawless piece of music you would have been left with 19 minutes of sheer boredom. This album would not be considered the defining jewel of progressive rock.. and it sure as hell wouldn't have 900 reviews hahah. In fact the real genius of this song is in the structure. I've read detailed breakdowns of the song on the internet in books that go on and on about the classic sonata style of Close to the Edge. The problem is... most listeners.. even the proud listeners of Prog Archives wouldn't know a sonata if it bit them in the ass. There is another way of looking at Close to the Edge. This is not an original thought of mine.. but once I read it.. it made perfect sense. Yes were not some uber symphonic group fusing classical structures with rock music. Gates of Delirium was a spot on copy of the structure of a space rock masterpiece of Pink Floyd's. A saucerful of Secrets. What everyone seems to forget about Yes.. were they were first and foremost. Incredible song writers. Fans of pop music and HIGHLY influenced BY pop music. The stated goal of the group was to merge ..not classical with rock.. but high powered instrumental ability with the catchiness and hooks of pop music. Close to the Edge is nothing more earthshaking than possibly the world's first..hell maybe only 19 minute long pop song. Complete with the intro/verse/chorus/verse/chorus/middle8/instrumental-break/verse/chorus/outro format that supposedly seperates prog from lesser forms of music hahaha. While everyone went on thinking that standard popular song formats would only support 2 or 3 minute long songs.. Yes showed that the standard pop format could support complex and sustained melodies. The trick of it again.. to pull it off it had to be all about quality. Otherwise.. you would have to aural equivilant of having 19 minutes of 'My Heart Will Go On: Love Theme from Titanic' pumped into your brain. Even with the kick ass rickenbacker.. I suspect that would not be enough to hold on to many listeners.

So why is this the defining album of all progressive rock. You all have shown it.. by showing that only a group like Yes had the vision, the chops, and songwriting ability to pulll off an album that simply no other could do.. or even tried to do.

*yawn* time for a Winston then nighty night.

5 stars.. for the site... hahahha... it is a masterpiece of progressive rock.

4 stars for me... think Tales is even more daring an album.. and just more fun to listen to.

Michael (aka Micky)

micky | 5/5 |


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