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Yes - Close To The Edge CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.66 | 4369 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars After thinking awhile, I decided to scrap my old review in favor of a newer one. My nievety really plagues me when I read my old material, especially if it shows up in a review of one of the greatest prog rock albums ever (or for that matter, one of the best albums of any genre). It's greatness is such that a non-progger can appreciate it, and proggers alike. It is not commercial in the least, at 18 minutes, however, and is just one of those rare great songs that anyone can enjoy.

It opens with silence, building with a sparkling keyboard run and sounds of nature, then flying headfirst into an intense, fast, insane, driving and building instrumental introduction. The guitar is flying everywhere, held down only by a repeated bass and keyboard run with the drums along for the ride. Utter musical chaos, flying straight upwards. Three times everything stops and pauses for a heavenly chorus of "aaaaaaa"s, then it's turned loose once more. At the third "aaaaaa," it tumbles into a second introduction theme, a more melodic and mid-tempo peaceful joyous victory-over-all-earthly-troubles anthem. We have just witnessed the peaceful sounds of nature, contrasted with the intense struggle of life, with both toppled by the third part. And that's just the unlisted introductory movement.

Everything quiets down, and we are set back at square one for "The Solid Time of Change". The electric sitar of HOWE starts up over SQUIRE's odd slide beat, and the vocals begin. It becomes clear through ANDERSON's lyrics that the protagonist of the song is spiritually bankrupt, and that it would take "a seasoned witch" to restore his grace. This song is based on the book "Siddharta," and is heavily based on Christian and Buddhist imagery. The movement goes through a few verses, then a chorus in which the protagonist is called to begin a spiritual quest, but at first resists, saying "not right away." After some more verses, the hero finally accepts and begins his journey for "Total Mass Retain." More verses follow over the same musical background, with some key changes such as the fact that Chris's bass now plays an uneven, chaotic hammer-on riff and we have changed key. The hero climbs through the strange world of his inner mind, a land I imagine to be like the fantastic world on the inner sleeve of the album, painted by Roger Dean. He (or she, really, you never know) battles his way up, learning as he goes, but he can only take so much at once, retaining all he can. He is now lost once more, and the only way to go further is to take what he now knows and reflect on it, so the music descends into a quiet movement.

"I Get Up, I Get Down," begins with no heralding, only a soft, beatiful cavernous and aural, ambient keyboard and some tweaks on the sitar and some other small additions, such as water dropping occaisionally to put us into the darkness completely. The protagonist makes some profound observations and wonders what to do. A simple keyboard beat emerges silently, with reflective, pondering three-part vocal harmonies appearing soon after. Then it all builds up into a majestic organ crescendo, stopped only once for a reprise of the movement's chorus, then restarted once more. Then WAKEMAN does a sharp, triumphant herald on his Moog, and we are plunged into the most chaotic section yet. The music is a reprise of the third theme of the intro, but distorted, twisted, and unbalanced. My favorite part of the whole thing.

WAKEMAN follows with a keyboard solo, then we re-enter the verse section and hear some of the music last heard in the first two movements. The protagonist has reached spiritual heights, a journey ended and knowledge found. Peace. Simply beatiful. The whole thing builds up with a final chorus, then silently fades into the sounds of nature heard in the beginning, reversed.

"And You and I" is a more acousticly oriented song, starting with the sound of Steve HOWE tuning his 12-string, and saying "okay" to a faintly heard "we're rolling now" from the guy recording. It starts us off firmly on the ground, in a studio, but soon the rest of the band joins and we are yanked from reality and into a warm world. The lyrics could be interpreted in many ways, as a simple love song, as praise to God, as a song of friendship with others, all centered on "you," which could be any of these. Soon we are pulled further as the keyboards come to prominence for "Eclipse," then utter silence. Then we hear HOWE re-starting the song, differently this time, again in an acoustic setting for "The Preacher the Teacher." This is my favorite part of the song, it seems very nostalgic for me for some unknown reason. It slowly builds back up to the heights of "Eclipse," then falls into another simple epilogue, ending beautifully.

The oddly named "Siberian Khatru" follows, much more hard-rocking but another grade-A song. The lyrics seem more oriented towards evoking images rather than telling a story, and the instruments are very varied. Between the traditional drums, bass, guitar, and keyboards, you'll hear some harpsichord and electric sitar as well. Toward the end is a traditional YES vocal harmony section, without which it just wouldn't be a YES album.

The greatest album ever. Go buy it right now. NOW!

penguindf12 | 5/5 |


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