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Yes - Close To The Edge CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.66 | 4371 ratings

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4 stars If there is such a thing as an album that feels too perfect, Close to the Edge might be it. While I enjoy listening to it very much, I usually come away with the feeling that it's all too neat, too pleasant, too mild. Not mild in terms of lacking rocking energy, but there's not much pain or melancholy in the least to my ears, there isn't.

It's not completely for want of trying, though. The band's compositional skill reaches its apex with this album. There are just two long pieces and one epic this time, which means no more oddities like on Fragile. All three are well written and very hard to fault. The lineup is the same as Fragile (only released a year later as well) and their sounds gel very well by now. All is in place save the singer (but that's just me).

More on that later. First, I will add to the pile of attempted descriptions of the title track. It has been called everything from a sonata to just one long pop song. While it may have a chorus with several re-iterations, no pop song is 18 minutes long with extended guitar and keyboard workouts, so it stands to reason that it's not pop. Whatever it is, it is an innovation on structure and one that is executed quite superbly. I am not too keen on the Steve Howe solo in the beginning but this impression is soon forgotten as the track develops to a sumptuous crescendo. I am left with the feeling that it is all rather triumphant in a way that doesn't affect me.

This feeling persists with the next track You and I. It shouldn't, though. It is a more delicate composition with some beautiful work by both Howe and Wakeman. Unfortunately, Jon Anderson doesn't quite do justice to the emotions in this composition. His unusually high pitched voice soars through the chorus and he creates a pleasant impression overall but this song needs a little bit extra from the singer to transcend from the very fine to the very special. I ought to have been completely gripped and haunted to no end by the composition and I am not...because Anderson's singing passes by without making much of an impression on me.

The last of the three tracks, Siberian Khatru, is also the most energetic. It is also the most generic of the bunch. I have already heard Yours is no Disgrace and Roundabout and this now sounds like they are trying to improve the 'epic rocker' some more. They do to a large extent, largely thanks to Wakeman coming up with some great atmosphere. I am not so keen on his harpischord section, though, which sounds a bit contrived to me. But the finish is fabulous with trademark Yes harmonies. Again, I can't help recall that Roundabout also ends in a similar fashion. While this track is really rocking, it feels a bit conservative to me in light of their previous efforts. It doesn't really surprise me anymore at this point.

That sentiment might just sum up the album. Fragile coming on the back of Yes Album did have some surprises in store; Close to the Edge as a follow up to Fragile not so much. And Fragile at its best moments was, I felt, more powerful emotionally. Close to the Edge sounds rather, for want of a better word, professional and polished. As if they could have tried harder to enchant the listener, as if they are a bit too cocksure of their magic.

An excellent album, one that is not going to disappoint many. But not a masterpiece in my considered opinion. Four stars.

rogerthat | 4/5 |


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