Perhaps more so than any other Yes album, Close to the Edge embodies the exploratory and superior risk taking ability that this classic prog rock band were capable of. The year was 1972, and the band had previously had major succes with both The Yes Album and Fragile, certainly two major sellers and forever progressive rock classics, however, the world was quite naive as far as thinking that the band had written and recorded its most ambitious work to date. Close to the Edge remains to this day a classic of the genre, and the recent Rhino remaster fully supports that statement and drives it home even further.
"Close to the Edge", "And You And I", and 'Siberian Khatru." Three epic pieces of music. Three legendary songs. The title track is the equivalent of a prog-rock dramatic symphony, complete with raging, complex sections, atmospheric interludes, and furious battles of guitars, organ, synths, and acrobatic bass. Jon Anderson's pleading "I Get Up...I Get Down" is the stuff of legends, and Rick Wakeman's massive Hammond organ solo quickly made everyone forget who Tony Kaye was. At the time , "Close to the Edge" was THE epic rock song, and really set the bar for all others that fell in its wake. "And You And I" meanwhile falls into the other end of the spectrum, as Steve Howe's lovely acoustic guitar strums under the spacey synths of Wakeman, while Anderson floats above the mix with his spiritual & melodic vocals. Things really get interesting when Wakeman's monstrous Mellotron waves kick in, followed by Howe's searing pedal steel guitar lines. Simply classic.
For this writer however, the highlight is the raging "Siberian Khatru", one of the most intense progressive rock songs ever recorded. Starting off with stabbing Mellotron chords and acrobatic guitar passages, this song begins an ebb-and-flow that never lets down for the entirety of the song. Steve Howe pulls out all the stops here, as he lays down an assortment of sounds, from ethnic sitar runs, to soaring pedal steel, to searing hard rock leads. Wakeman adds every keyboard in his arsenal, while Bill Bruford (in his last appearance on a Yes album for many years) adds a multitude of nimble drum fills, making for an overall virtuoso performance.
The remaster treatment sounds fantastic, bigger than life even (a significant improvement over the original Atlantic CD release) and the packaging containing Roger Dean artwork, song lyrics, rare photographs, and an informative essay by Mike Tiano makes the whole thing worthwhile. And the bonus material is icing on the cake. In short-you need this!
1) Close to the Edge
2) And You And I
3) Siberian Khatru
4) America-single version
5) Total Mass Retain-single version
6) And You And I-alternative version
7) Siberia-studio run through of "Siberian Khatru"