Review Summary: Close to The Edge is the perfect definition of the pretentiousness, virtuosity, musicianship and musical entertainment. A must for any prog rocker.
Jon Anderson- Lead Vocals
Chris Squire- Bass, Vocals
Bill Bruford- Drums, Percussion
Steve Howe- Guitars, Vocals
Rick Wakeman- Keyboards
"Close to the Edge" by Yes, the front runners of prog rock besides the ever changing King Crimson, attained the perfection and acclaim that Yes was still trying to acheive with fans and musicians worldwide. Written in 1972 after their breakthrough album "Fragile", "CTTE" marked the highest level Yes would achieve until simplifying their sound in "Going For The One." Featuring their classic lineup of Anderson, Squire, Bruford, Howe and Wakeman, each member still worked hard day in and day out to prove themselves as masters of progressive rock.
The album opens with the side-long title track. Coming in at almost 19 minutes, "CTTE" breaks the limits with countless time signature changes, key changes and mood changes.
The song starts off with a craze of excellent guitar work by Howe, an ascending bass line in a modified key of E by Squire and a flurry of Hammond notes by the flamboyant Rick Wakeman. The movement settles with the falsetto harmonies of Squire and Anderson to another instrumental passage featuring sustained organ notes and fancy quitar work by Howe. Anderson steps in with layered vocals with lyrics based on the book Siddharta by Herman Hesse. Almost overlooked at this point of the song before the fugue into the third movement is the perfection of rhythm by Squire and Bruford and sets as a perfect example as to how a rhythm section should function as a unit. The middle of the song covers what every Yes song never misplaces: a display of the vocal harmonies of Anderson, Squire and Howe. Yes however doesn't want to leave the piece unfinished and rushes into an overhyped movement of effects and phased bass work. Wakeman, tired of playing as the backup to the song taps furiously at a single note on his organ until he bursts into a mindblowing solo in the key of B that would rock the socks of any accomplished keyboardist. The piece finishes with a recap of the main theme in the song with a climax that made Squire compare "CTTE" to the feelings felt when making love. Maybe your the only one who thinks that Chris... Rating: 5/5.
Next is "And You And I", a lyrcially hidden love song written by Anderson and Squire with the instrumental themes written by Bruford. Starting with Howe tuning his 12-string guitar, the song starts off with nice chord voicings in the key of D with stereo guitars and unison playing by Squire and Bruford. The first movement ends into a mystical world of Wakeman's overdubbed mellotron parts and slide guitar work by Howe with the continous unison of Squire and Bruford. Anderson provides some excellent high register vocals to match the high notes of this movement. Wakeman again shows off his talent with overdubbed Moogs leaving a satisfied feeling before moving into a fast paced acoustic guitar jam with a quiet Moog playing freely on top. The song ends off with the guitar work and vocal melodies of the first movement. With the right balance of dynamics, mood and tempo, Yes masters the art of writing ballads in a quite inventive prog manner. Rating: 5/5.
Last is the clash of blues based guitar work and the classical styles of Wakeman, born from the improvisational jams of "Yours Is No Disgrace" called "Siberian Khatru." The most underrated piece of the album, the first movement basically takes the listener's breath away with each member playing a part not even closely resembling that of his bandmates. The vocal melodies and guitar work of the verse and catchy chorus makes this song a staple in every Yes performance. Wakeman shines again with a classical style harpsichord solo to battle with the guitar parts of Howe. The song leads into a vocal based interlude reminiscent of "CTTE" but without overwhelming keyboard work. Instead, Wakeman sticks to the climbing of the vocal melodies with a climbing mellotron part to provide perfect accompaniment to the section. The song fades away with a Howe solo like that of "South Side of the Sky." Any other ending may have made this song a bit too long-winded and even a bit boring. Rating: 4/5.
Although this review may look like a crazed Yes fan's review of their favourite album, there are numerous downfalls on this album that plagues every album in history. "CTTE" features parts that act as fillers into the next part, reworking previous parts in a different tempo or key. Anderson's lyrics resemble the incomplete sentence fragments of an ESL student on acid. Even though they do sound good in some parts, they take away from the order of the song by throwing in unneeded wonder and randomness. A step in the right direction is by Bruford and Squire. Both calm down on their busy bass/drums work and work together in a solid way as show in "AYAI." As said numerous times by many prog rock lovers, "Close to the Edge" is worth every cent on its $10 sticker price. It serves as a lesson to the benefits and disadvantages of unbelieveable talent, viruosity and musicianship.