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Yes - Close To The Edge CD (album) cover

CLOSE TO THE EDGE

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

4.66 | 3925 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Luqueasaur
5 stars What is there to say about CLOSE TO THE EDGE that hasn't been spoken yet? What man would prefer my review over others, or better, what man would read reviews rather than follow the consensual intuition that calls this YES masterpiece as the epitome of progressiveness? If you're said man, then I shall do my duty to bring you my review.

My output for this is simple: CLOSE TO THE EDGE is the best progressive rock album I have heard thus far. Some may gift this title to the unsinful IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING, others might do so - although rather awkwardly - to PINK FLOYD's, some even to SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND. But the reason CLOSE is the top among my list so far is because it demarks everything that, for me, prog is supposed to represent: inventiveness, classical revival, "technical wankery" (what a derogatory yet fitting term), ethereal themes and musical performances that leave the listener thunderstruck. The use of several music genres and styles is something to be noted.

If I had to summarize each song, CLOSE TO THE EDGE would be "inventively chaotic"; AND YOU AND I "acoustically magnificent and gentle"; and SIBERIAN KHATRU "jazzy, funky and guitar-oriented".

The title track, CLOSE TO THE EDGE, begins with calm nature sounds: birds chirping, and a river flowing. Suddenly, your ears are blown by a staggering, chaotic, seemingly anarchical & cacophonical introduction composed of violent quick drums, an eerie background guitar playing and a poorly (purposedly) sounding distorted guitar, accompanied by soft keyboards. My first listen to it rendered me awed, "What the hell is this?". For as strange, it was pleasant. I had to admit, even though I had no clue what I was listening to, it was truly creative. Especially intelligent to bring a serene intro followed by an explosion of sounds. Eventually, the insanity ends with a mellow guitar riff, that develops into the main section - the verses. An... ukulele? So it seems. 6/8? Yes. Bass and drums are connected, as every loud drum beat happens along a bass note. Overall, it sounds a little amusing.

Particularly speaking, JON ANDERSON's vocals are great. His voice is very matching with the overall theme of the song. Lyrics speak about... I don't know, somewhere? Somewhere interesting, beautiful. The ukulele really brings us the tranquility of the ambient the lyrics speak about, yet the drums & bass' odd connection keep us aware this is a progressive track. Eventually, calmness intensifies on a much more tender - and rather melancholic - piece, and the song ultimately oozes to my favourite part: the organs. A very, VERY imponent organ playing begins on a solo piece, followed by spatial keyboards which refer, once again, to the outlandishness of the track's theme. It is followed by a drums and keyboard duet. The keyboard plains, once again, the "mellow riff" on its very own insane manner. While the keyboard itself is already upbeat, the ridiculously technical and speedy performance of BRUFORD increases the section by a notch. WAKEMAN then proceeds to play a very rapid solo, and after he's over, ANDERSON returns to finish the song with the final verses & repetition of the chorus. After this majestic insanity we've been subjected to, we're left with the same birds and river to perform the outro.

NOW, NOW. What makes CLOSE TO THE EDGE a spectacular progressive track is its absolute creativity; vast array of instruments, techniques, and sounds employed; the amount of tempo, time signatures, and melody changes; and a successful mixture of psychedelia with jazz and rock elements. It is, however, the type of song you should listen more than once to successfully absorb: the first listen leaves you flabbergasted; the second, impressed; and the third, inspired.

Then, we're presented to AND YOU AND I. A love song, progressive style. There's no direct reference to love, but the companionship the persona desires is undoubtfully fulfilled by a significant other. It's not the "I love you" song, but the "I want to spend my life with you" type. Besides, there's even this obvious love hint: "All completed in the sight of seeds of life with you". It initiates with a nice 12-string-guitar riff, timely keyboard riffs, and ANDERSON's vocals that evoke an undoubtful loveliness. It evolves to a more slow and symphonic piece which could easily be confused for the outro. But fool! This is progressive rock! After the "outro", the song returns with a softer form of the previous section. ANDERSON and HOWE are much more cheerful. Eventually, all instruments return, and the AND YOU AND I definitive version kicks in. Once again, by its ending, WAKEMAN plays a keyboard outro. ANDERSON swiftly returns to an even more sweet version of the song, a short sung outro, to finally end the song.

Alright fella, here it comes the weird-but-cool member of the CLOSE TO THE EDGE album family: SIBERIAN KHATRU! I don't think there's any cooler name than that. Just like I read on Rolling Stones' progressive album list, "is Khatru even a word"? Well, does it matter? Certainly not.

A very jazzy and Siberian (okay, not THAT much Siberian) intro, to get you all shaking and funky. HOWE's guitar is superb on this track. I can't say anything BUT this track being his shining moment. There's only one word for Khatru: FUNKY. The main riff is very jazzy, and the chorus, even more. HOWE, as aforementioned, is omnipresent in this track: every note he plays is perceived. Eventually, YES brings us a new section where several guitar solos tackle in. The steel-string solo is perhaps one of my favourite ever. It's less than thirty seconds long, but awesome nonetheless. Lastly, it ends, followed by - you guessed it - a (short) gentler piece. Only two minutes away from its ending, the song - and album - outro arrives. It is powerful, and it is implicit it's not the ending just for KHATRU but for CLOSE TO THE EDGE as a whole. Even CHRIS SQUIRE, whose bass has been the background hero, jumps in the protagonism with an interesting - and obviously equally funky - solo accompanied by HOWE, who kicks in a great solo. Our KHATRU ends with the same feeling it has begun, and as no sound is yet to be heard, we're confirmed CLOSE TO THE EDGE is officially over.

YES' attempt to invent, to create, to astonish and to inspire is triumphant. CLOSE TO THE EDGE is a historical name. One of RUSH's members agreed with me, publically. (Or better, I agreed with him. Or well, pretty much almost everyone else) YES brought the best frontman to the progressive genre. This album represents everything progressive is supposed to represent, and it does majestically. BRUFORD thought so, and he even left Yes because he felt he couldn't topple this. Well, not really, but it's fun to think that's the reason. RELAYER would be there to show YES could bring another album as genial as CLOSE TO THE EDGE. OWNER OF A LONELY HEART showed YES died. But that's not important.

What's important is that if you're reading reviews for this album rather than listening to it, well, just do it. You won't regret: there's no way you would.

10/10

Luqueasaur | 5/5 |

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