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Yes - Close To The Edge CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.66 | 4409 ratings

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5 stars Yes was running by the time Fragile had become such a hit, but it was Close to the Edge that brought them to their creative peak. I have to agree with most of the reviewers that this is a progressive masterpiece in the finest sense. The "essential" lineup of Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, and Rick Wakeman is top-notch musically. Anderson's vocals appear to be at their most emotional on this album, and the times where he harmonizes with the lower register of Squire and Howe (not to mention the higher register of himself) are outstanding. I don't consider him to be irritating, because most of his falsettos are harmony lines to his own tenor in the forefront of the mix, which makes this much more listenable. The production and arrangements are smooth, and it actually makes Fragile seem overpolished. Anyway, it all begins with the fading in of a nature scene, which leads us into the title track and Howe wailing away on his guitar for three minutes before the melody kicks in; I always air out to that opening solo. During the verses, listen for Squire's bass and the verb coming from his Rickenbacker (owed to his still using a pick). The near-19-minute epic features a middle section with tranquility and excellent harmonizing, until Wakeman's church organ takes over, and that leads into an insane rhythm by Squire and Bruford, and Wakeman's organ solo. Overall it is one of those pieces that will captivate you almost instantly. The next side has the Yes "love song," that being "And You and I." Often no one knows exactly what Anderson is saying in his lyrics, but there's fun in trying to figure it out. This is a ten-minute romantic plea, with various allusions and acoustic guitar excellence from Howe driving this piece home. I really noticed how good Bruford's percussion techniques truly were by listening to his slower melodic playing on the number, comparing this to the Alan White takeover (don't get me wrong, Alan White is no slouch, but Bill Bruford is Bill Bruford). Bruford and Squire wrote the musical score here, and it seems to fit as a complex tale. Then it all wraps up with what might be my favorite Yes number EVER, "Siberian Khatru," opening with bluesy guitar, then joined by Squire' pounding bass (which is very dominant here), and all instruments are in full gear with the keyboard melody and really catchy guitar riff. I actually think it's like Rush's "The Spirit of Radio" as the opening notes make for a great beginning to an album or concert, but the closing notes for a great finale to the said musical situations; so thus the song can work both ways. Howe and Wakeman synchronize so well on this number, and Wakeman's harmonium solo (about three minutes in) is astounding the way he moves so fast. "Even Siberia goes through the motions," Anderson sings, which we may not completely grasp, but as I said earlier he is often open for interpretation; speaking of which Anderson's vocals seem slightly more dense on this rocking finale number, but he doesn't go very high at all. I especially love the final three minutes, where it builds up and returns to the original melody, which becomes a BOMBASTIC fadeout end as Steve Howe overdubbs with one of his best solos (not as much for fast fingers as much as emotional playing). It's also a nice, yet bittersweet, exit for Bruford, who we all know left around the time of release. If the term 'musical orgasm' exists, then this is it. I was obsessed with this album after hearing it a few times, and only maybe five albums have ever done that to me (at least three of them are prog albums on this website). Close to the Edge is such a great mindtrip; it makes you think. If you appreciate complex arrangements, you practically see all the good things about progressive rock come out here. Believe the hype; it's superior.
CVoss | 5/5 |


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