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Yes
"Close To The Edge"

© Atlantic

February 11 - 17, 2018

Year of Release: 1972
Rating:
  • Close To The Edge:
    I. The Solid Time Of Change
    II. Total Mass Retain
    III. I Get Up I Get Down
    IV. Seasons Of Man
  • And You And I:
    I. Cord Of Life
    II. Eclipse
    III. The Preacher And The Teacher
    IV. Apocalypse
  • Siberian Khatru

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    A B C D E F G H I J K L M
    N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
    Progressive Rock and Hall of Fame band Yes returns this week, with the follow-up to their breakthrough album Fragile (1971), Close To The Edge, released the following year, 1972. At this time, Progressive Rock bands were being known for long duration tracks. There were three long-running songs on Edge. The title track would be clocked at 18 minutes and 50 seconds. "And You And I" was 10 minutes and 9 seconds. The shortest of the three, "Siberian Khatru", 8:57.

    "Close To The Edge" (title track) would evolve around around four individual songs, blended into one. (Likewise "And You And I.") "I. The Solid Time Of Change," "II. Total Mass Retain," "III. I Get Up I Get Down," and "Seasons Of Man." They all blend into a Progressive Rock "opera." The most interesting of the four here, is "I Get Up I Get Down."

    "And You And I" Cord Of Life has nice acoustic guitar, as heard in their Fragile hit, "Roundabout." "Eclipse" has your usual Yes in familiar sound. "The Preacher And The Teacher" has a more Progressive Rock approach - Bands such as Yes, King Crimson, the early Genesis, etc. And on "Apocalypse," it's again, the usual Yes sound, such as on another previous hit, "Yours Is No Disgrace." California. Their musical influences are Led Zeppelin, Rory Gallagher, Willie Dixon, The Yardbirds, The Beatles, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, etc. Ricky D provided lead guitar, rhythm and slide guitars, bass, keyboards, vocals, harmonica and lap steel. The other band member on this album was Chris Jamison, who provided drums, percussion, guitar, bass and vocals. With an additional bass player, they were also planning on adding another guitarist. No other information on the web I could locate, yet this band is part of our Hall of Fame.

    Interesting reads on each track, from the album's Wikipedia page:
    "Close to the Edge" was written by Anderson and Howe, both of whom also share credits for the lyrics. Its 18-minute length marked the longest track Yes had recorded at the time. Its tape loop introduction, a combination of keyboard and nature sounds, including flowing water and bird chirps recorded on location, measured approximately 40 feet in length and took two days to record. Anderson was inspired to include the bird sounds, and the instrumental section in "I Get Up, I Get Down", from hearing Sonic Seasonings (1972), an electronic ambient album by Wendy Carlos. Anderson suggested to start with an improvised group jam, which the group saw as adventurous and is one of the reasons why the band comes in out of nowhere on the final take. The track was assembled in pieces throughout, as Bruford described, "in ten, twelve, sixteen-bar sections". Its introduction came about after the band had toured with fusion group Mahavishnu Orchestra; someone in the band suggested to have the piece open with improvisation with pre-arranged pauses. Anderson was inspired to base its theme and lyrics on Siddhartha (1922) by German novelist Hermann Hesse, and revised the song's lyrics "three or four" times, saying "it's all metaphors". The lyrics for the concluding verse were based on a dream he once had about the "passing on from this world to another... yet feeling so fantastic about it that death never frightened me ever since". The chorus lyric "Close to the edge, down by a river" was inspired by Howe while he lived in Battersea by the River Thames. The music played during this section was originally a song of the same name that Howe put together several years before that was in part based on the longest day of the year. Anderson and Howe agreed this section fitted best with an Anderson composition titled "Total Mass Retain", thus joining the two ideas together. Howe had prepared another song, of which its middle eight was adapted into the "In her white lace..." section of "I Get Up, I Get Down". Wakeman's organ solo was written by Howe for the guitar originally, but he thought the arrangement sounded better on the organ. It is played on the pipe organ at St Giles-without-Cripplegate church in Barbican. The band produced a take of the section after the church organ solo that they were satisfied with, but when it came to inserting it into the final mix, Offord had inserted the take he thought was the right one and placed the good take in the bin of scrapped tape. The result caused a noticeable tape edit that had to stay in the mix as the task of reproducing the sound exactly would have been a near impossibility.

    "And You and I" originated as a more folk-oriented song that Anderson developed with Howe. Its style and themes were worked on by Howe, Bruford, and Squire, the only track on the album that credits Bruford and Squire as writers. Anderson pitched his ideas for the track while strumming chords on a guitar, singing the section where the first lyric comes in. It was a theme that Howe particularly enjoyed and was keen to build on it. While introducing the song on tour, Anderson said its working title was "The Protest Song". In its original form, the song had an extended ending that Welch called "a shattering climax", but its popularity amongst the band decreased over time, leading to their decision to cut it from the final version. Anderson described the track similar to that of a hymn, in the sense of feeling "secure in the knowledge of knowing there is somebody... God maybe". "The Preacher, the Teacher" was developed in a single afternoon. Anderson suggested the idea of it having a more country feel, to which Howe and Squire came up with respective guitar and bass arrangements that Anderson thought "sat together so sweet".

    "Siberian Khatru" developed from an idea that Anderson had on an acoustic guitar. He did not have the entire track worked out, so the rest of the group took the sections he needed help with and discussed what riffs best suited it as it lacked one strong enough to carry the song. It is the only track on the album that has Wakeman credited as a writer. In terms of its lyrics, Anderson noted the song is a collection of "interesting words, though it does relate to the dreams of clear summer days". He claimed "khatru" translates to "as you wish" in Yemen, but had no idea what the word meant at the time until he asked someone to look up its meaning. When it came to recording Howe's ending guitar solo, one experiment involved Offord placing one microphone by the amplifier and having his assistant swing a second microphone around the room to create a Doppler effect.

    For the first time, their famous band logo was introduced on this album. This logo or symbol would be easily recognized throughout their entire career, identifying not only their music in sound, but by idenitifying their "Yes logo." The logo was created by Roger Dean, who had also worked on the cover of the band's previous album, Fragile. Dean had sketched the logo on a train journey from London to Brighton, with the idea of the three letters of "Yes," and put together "in an interesting way."

    Overall, Close To The Edge would become one of the band's most popular albums. Although none of the three songs were actual hits ("And You ANd I" was edited as a single), the band was known for recording long-length tracks, as many other bands did during the 1970s. Most of these long-length tracks consisted of one entire song per side of a vinyl album. Other bands that did this were Iron Butterfly ("In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida"), Pink Floyd ("Echoes").

    Of course, the songs contained in the two long-length tracks could easily be broken down into individual tracks, but they all flow into one. (Noted, that "And You And I" was edited into two parts.) But these two songs were originally recorded as one track each. Yes has been one of the most popular bands in Progressive Rock. They were recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. And they deserved it, and despite the original members (and most popular members) are not with the band today, yet they still perform, and are celebrating their 50th anniversary.




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