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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Their finest hour just got finer, 6 Mar. 2004
This review is from: Close to the Edge (Audio CD)
'Close To The Edge' was Yes' finest hour, and that hour just became even longer with this amazing and very welcome reissue by the good people at Rhino, who have not only breathed new life into the original album tracks, but also seen fit to include full-length alternate versions of 'And You and I' and 'Siberian Khatru' into the bargain. And bargain is the right word. I'm not big on buying reissues but this is an absolute must-have for any Yes (or progressive rock) fan even if, like me, you already have a copy on CD. As well as the bonus material, the remastering is to die for. Every hour Bill Bruford spent adjusting his drum kit seems time well spent now. Every nuance in Wakeman's subtle mellotron and pipe-organ now sounds crystal clear like never before. And, as if this isn't enough... the original Roger Dean artwork that graced the inner sleeve of the original gatefold album is here in all it's glory (albeit in miniature form to fit the CD jewel case), and detailed information about the recording of the album to keep the anoraks (like me!) happy.
The 3 songs on this album all showcase what Yes were all about... 5 virtuoso musicians at the top of their game. To describe this album as 3 songs, however, is a bit misleading. 'Close To The Edge', originally one entire side of the album, is a sprawling epic that meanders it's way through several carnations, from the frantic opening, to the sublime 'I Get Up, I Get Down', and back to a thrilling and frenetic climax. True, the song may be 'only' 18 minutes long, but there is a lifetime of glorious detail contained within that I will never tire of listening to. 'And You And I' again is more a suite than a song, showcasing some brilliant 12-string guitar by Steve Howe, and has split the critics, some describing it as apocalyptic and awesome, others over-blown and pretentious. 'Siberian Khatru' is a faster-paced track with some stunning musicianship from Wakeman (on keyboards) and Howe (on guitars), although it is somewhat over-shadowed by the towering brilliance of it's stable mates.
Chris Squire pushes the limits and rewrites the book on the role of the bass-guitar in a rock ensemble, with some truly staggering feats of dexterity. Jon Anderson's vocals are in equal measure soaring, powerful, haunting and always note-perfect. His lyrics are quite barmy, (as usual), a sort of science-fiction mumbo-jumbo that Yes would call their trademark until about 1977. Bill Bruford's jazz training as a drummer pays off big-time, and the complexity of the sequences that he executes perfectly on this album throughout are breathtaking. Rick Wakeman shows his virtuousity on nearly every conceivable type of keyboard instrument, from church organ, mellotron, Hammond and even harpsichord, adding an ethereal soundscape to act as a backdrop to the machinations of the rest of the band. But highest praise is reserved for Steve Howe and his dazzling skill with a guitar. Quite simply, I don't know how he does it. His brilliance with a six (or even a 12) string is bettered only by his imagination and creative flair, and this album showcases his talent like no other.
My only grumble is 'America' (a cover version of Paul Simon's track from 'Bookends'), which is worth having for completion, but is available on the box set 'Yesyears', and is horribly out of place as part of this album. To make matters worse, it sits bang-slap in the middle of the playing order... why??? It's like painting glasses on the Mona Lisa.
What can I say, but if you don't have this album, you should. And if you have an older version on CD, BUY IT AGAIN, you won't be disappointed!
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 5 Jan 2008 14:08:25 GMT
Bill Peter says:
Sorry, Chrissy, but is "meandering though several carnations" a bit like "tiptoeing through the tulips"? Does that mean that Yes are a "prog" Tiny Tim? I'm a big fan of early Yes,who were a talented and exciting band, especially live, but the "meandering" got too much for me. However, I'm also a fan of some of your other favourites. Regards, Bill Peter

Posted on 1 Jun 2008 12:39:54 BDT
Last edited by the author on 1 Jun 2008 14:22:40 BDT
Wooltonian says:
Should we feel guilty about liking Yes? Even to this day, there persists an orthodoxy that this sort of music is...well...overblown, pretentious twaddle with no value to it. Punk came along in 1976/77 to wipe this sort of music off the face of the earth and good riddance to (as John Peel would say) the 'velvet-clad ninnies'.

Even now, when I watch documentaries about the history of music, Yes (and the early seventies) are usually cited as the all-time popular-cultural nadir -- all that is wrong with music in one small sound-bite.

I have always found this criticism difficult to stomach. I love Yes and think that their early albums (1970-74) are as good as anything in the rock / pop music canon. Am I wrong, though? -- am I missing something that most other people can see? Is there some horrible, offensive flaw in this seemingly wonderful album that just passes me by? Prog had probably had it's day by 1977 anyway, but why are the critics so harsh towards even the best examples of Prog from the early seventies?

Basically, why the hostility? Should we feel just a slight twinge of guilt about liking Yes?

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Mar 2009 21:20:53 GMT
Last edited by the author on 7 Mar 2009 21:21:21 GMT
Absolutely no guilt at all. There was a brief while when the execs lost the plot and somehow allowed people with real talent and vision into their studios to try and invent a whole new world of music. Some of it got out of hand perhaps. The showmanship angle started to leave the rock and roll roots behind. But was that a crime? Eventually the execs realised and the music press and critics lined up to call for music to be dragged back into the gutter from whence it began, and to concentrate on good proletarien topics like mindless, uninformed rebellion and sh*g*ng. The critics became fond of words such as 'overblown', a meaningless value judgement, and 'pretentious', pretending to be what was never made clear. Were they any more overblown and pretentious than say Bowie or Roxy Music and the glamrock crowd who were the first wave to replace them?

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jan 2010 17:32:03 GMT
Last edited by the author on 10 Jan 2010 17:49:49 GMT
Bang on the money Mr Ferngrove!
All this Punk Rock stuff was pure mythology. What is even more amusing is that it is still being put forward today as fact by anyone with a desire to be seen as "cool".
One wonders just who was buying all those Fleetwood Mac, Frampton, Floyd, Yes, Genesis albums in their millions during the Punk Rock "explosion" of '76/'77. While we are at it, just who was buying all those Wings, Boney M and David Soul records. Apparently nobody - because Punk Rock had come along and made '76 into Year Zero and "wiped out" everything laid before it ;-)
And where was Punk Rock by the time we get to 1979? (the year Pink Floyd had a No 1 hit?). Nowhere - we already had NWOBHM and the far more interesting New Wave.

The view that Punk Rock killed off the "Dinosaur Rockers" was utter b*ll*cks then and even more so now that time has put everything into its real perspective (for me at least). The only thing that anybody could claim was that a few groups during that time declined or disbanded but it would have happened anyway. I doubt very much everyone who bought Punk Rock records were jaded Prog Rock fans. The fact was that both sets of fans were usually mutually exclusive and of different age groups. John Peel did give many good bands exposure, 'bless 'im, but he also spoke a lot of c*ap that should never have gone unchallenged. I personally put it down to him rebelling against his own relatively well-to-do background and upbringing. But whatever the reason for it, John Peel was certainly guilty of divisive comments, playing one group of the music-enjoying public against another. Same with the NME (and MM to a lesser extent).

The daftest thing is that you'll often see some lazy journo putting forward this myth as if it were fact even today (e.g. Peel was still doing it shortly before he died) when Punk Rock itself has become Dad-Rock or even Grandad Rock! My point? Punk rock is the new "Dinosaur Rock" - it just never realised it because it mostly had died by '79 anyway.

So - like Mr Ferngrove (above) no guilt from me either. An album of beauty IMHO and to hell with what anyone else thinks including the personal comments from the two-star-rating berk on this very page!

Regards,

Mr Velvet-clad-ninnie (far more comfortable that a safety pin through the nose).

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Apr 2010 15:14:54 BDT
Musiclover says:
I couldn't agree more, so shan't try to add to this erudite posting. One thing, though: Isn't John Lydon advertising butter now, while many great prog bands are still on the road? Says it all really.

Posted on 6 Aug 2013 21:44:35 BDT
Jim says:
I agree about the inclusion of 'America' etc. Why does an album this great need so-called bonus tracks? Unfortunately the Steven Wilson remix and remastered version due later this year is also going to have these unnecessary extras that can only detract from an otherwise perfect album.

Posted on 17 Oct 2013 17:40:29 BDT
Ozymandias says:
I disagree! Close To The Edge was definitely pioneering and fantastic.......but I think Tales From Topographic Oceans, and Relayer, and Going For The One, are all better albums. Which is really the way it should be, because the trail blazed by making this album was able to act as a bridge to greater things. Awaken is my favourite Yes piece, with The Revealing Science Of God and The Gates Of Delirium close behind and ahead of anything from Close To The Edge. I think it's overrated against those other songs but I do concur that without Close To The Edge those better pieces might never have materialised.
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