Close to the Edge (Yes album)

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Close to the Edge
Studio album by Yes
Released 13 September 1972 (1972-09-13)
Recorded 1972 at Advision Studios, London
Genre Progressive rock
Length 37:51
Label Atlantic
Producer Yes, Eddy Offord
Yes chronology
Close to the Edge
Singles from Close to the Edge
  1. "And You and I (Part I & II)"
    Released: 1972 (1972)

Close to the Edge is the fifth studio album from the English progressive rock band Yes, released on 13 September 1972 on Atlantic Records. Following their success with Fragile (1971), Yes began to produce extended pieces which resulted in Close to the Edge, an album formed of three tracks with the 18-minute title track occupying side one and "And You and I" and "Siberian Khatru" on side two. When recording for the album finished, drummer Bill Bruford had grown tired of the band's style and song writing methods and left to join King Crimson.

Released three months into its supporting tour, Close to the Edge was a commercial and critical success for the band. It peaked at number 3 in the United States and number 4 in the United Kingdom. "And You and I" was released as a single that reached number 42 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The album is certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling over one million copies.


Following the release of their fourth studio album Fragile (1971), Yes enjoyed their greatest commercial and critical success since their formation. When their well-received 1971–72 tour of Europe and North America to promote the album ended in March 1972, the band started work on their next record. The line-up during this time was singer Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, drummer Bill Bruford, guitarist Steve Howe, and keyboardist Rick Wakeman.



Bill Bruford, pictured in 2009

After rehearsals at the Una Billings School of Dance in Shepherd's Bush, the band returned to Advision Studios to record their next album.[1] They were joined by audio engineer Eddy Offord, who had worked on Fragile (1971) and served as their sound mixer for its tour. Production duties were shared between Offord and the band. According to Bruford, he came up with the album's title to describe the state of the band at the time, as he had with Fragile. Bruford recalled "a cheap black velour settee at the back of the control room" where he slept one night as Squire was "poring over a couple of knobs on the desk, and jerking awake a couple of hours later to find him in the same place, still considering the relative position of the two knobs".[2]

Offord made the band's road crew "build a huge stage in the studio" to make the album sound "more live".[3] In one incident, after the band decided to use a particular edit of a track, the group found out the studio's cleaner put a piece of tape in the rubbish. Following a "desperate hunt for the missing section" in the bins outside, the piece was found.[2]


Side one of the album is occupied by its title track, of which Anderson and Howe share composition and lyrical credits. With a running time of 18 minutes and 43 seconds, it is the longest song the band had recorded at the time. The track was assembled in pieces throughout, as Bruford described, "in ten, twelve, sixteen-bar sections".[1] Anderson based its theme and lyrics from reading Siddhartha by German novelist Hermann Hesse. Reflecting on the song's lyrical content in 1976, Anderson noted the concluding verse is a dream that he had "a long time ago about passing on from this world to another world, yet feeling so fantastic about it that death never frightened me ever since".[4] Wakeman's organ solo was originally a section written by Howe for the guitar, but he thought it sounded better on the organ.[4]

Side two opens with the ten-minute track "And You and I", written by Anderson, Howe, Bruford, and Squire. The spiritual influences introduced by Jon Anderson are already evident in the music and lyrics of all three tracks on Close to the Edge. Renewal and repetition are other main themes; the title track starts and finishes with the same sound effects of running water and birds, and in "Siberian Khatru" there is the repetition of two-syllable words and phrases. The album closes with "Siberian Khatru", the only track where Wakeman receives a writing credit. Anderson described the track as "just a lot of interesting words, though it does relate to the dreams of clear summer days".[5]

Sleeve design[edit]

The album marked the first use of the band's "bubble" logo designed by Roger Dean.

The album's sleeve was designed and illustrated by English artist Roger Dean, who had also designed the cover for Fragile (1971). It marks the first use of the Yes "bubble" logo. Some of the photography used was shot by Martyn Adelman who had played in The Syn with Squire. On reflection of its artwork, Dean said: "There were a couple of ideas that merged there. It was of a waterfall constantly refreshing itself, pouring from all sides of the lake, but where was the water coming from? I was looking for an image to portray that".[6]


Close to the Edge was released on 13 September 1972, three months into the band's 1972–73 world tour to promote the record. It was their biggest commercial success; the album peaked at number 3 on the US Billboard Top LPs chart and number 4 in the UK.[7][8] "And You and I" was split into two tracks and released as a single titled "And You and I (Part I & II)" that peaked at number 42 on the US Hot 100 singles chart.[9] The album is certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling over one million copies.

A promotion-only version of the LP was distributed to US radio stations that featured the title track split into shorter segments. This was done to increase radio exposure as most radio stations did not want to air an 18-minute song. Most of the segments were in the range of 3 to 5 minutes and all were marked on the record to assist disc jockeys.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[10]
Pitchfork (9.0/10)[11]
Robert Christgau C+[12]
Rolling Stone (1972) (favorable)[13]
The Rolling Stone Record Guide 5/5 stars[14]
Sputnik Music 5/5 stars[15]

Upon its release, Close to the Edge received favourable reviews among critics. In a positive review, Billboard selected the album in its weekly "Billboard Pick" feature, noting that Yes had "progressed to the point where they are light years beyond their emulators, proving to be no mere flash in the pan. The sound tapestries they weave are dainty fragments, glimpses of destinies yet to be formed, times that fade like dew drops in the blurriness of desires half-remembered. All involved deserve praise and thanks, this being not a mere audio experience, transcending the medium it brings all senses into play."[16]

In a special edition of Q and Mojo magazines published in 2005, Close to the Edge came in at number 3 in its "40 Cosmic Rock Albums" list.[17] The record is also listed in the musical reference publication 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery. In a reader's choice list of the "100 Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time" for Guitar World, the album came in at number 67. In his review for AllMusic, Dave Thompson writes:

Close to the Edge would make the Top Five on both sides of the Atlantic, dispatch Yes on the longest tour of its career so far and, if hindsight be the guide, launch the band on a downward swing that only disintegration, rebuilding, and a savage change of direction would cure. The latter, however, was still to come. In 1972, Close to the Edge was a flawless masterpiece."[10]

Close to the Edge is ranked number 1 in Prog Archives's top album list, with an average rank of 4.65 stars.[18]


In 1987, Close to the Edge was reissued by Atlantic Records on compact disc in the United States[nb 1] and Europe.[nb 2] Another issue of the album was digitally remastered by Joe Gastwirt in 1994.[nb 3] In 2003, the album was reissued again on disc in an expanded and remastered edition by Rhino and Elektra Records. Included were two previously unreleased tracks: an alternate version of "And You and I", an early run-through of "Siberian Khatru", and Yes's 1972 single "America" with its b-side, an edit of "Total Mass Retain".[nb 4]

In 2013, two new remasters of the album were released. Steve Hoffman of Audio Fidelity Records conducted a remastering in both CD and Super Audio CD formats.[nb 5] For the Panegyric label, Steven Wilson used the original multi-track recordings to produce a "2013 stereo mix", a 5.1 surround sound mix, and an "original stereo mix" from a flat transfer of the LP, in both a CD and DVD-Audio and CD and Blu-ray Disc package. Bonus tracks include single edits, an early rough mix of "Close to the Edge", and instrumental versions of the album's three tracks.[nb 6] On 2 December that year internationally & later on 24 December in the US, the 2003 remaster was reissued as a part of the box set The Studio Albums 1969-1987.

Bruford's departure and tour[edit]

Further information: Close to the Edge Tour

Once recording for the album was complete, Bruford left the band on 19 July 1972 to join King Crimson. His replacement was Alan White of the Plastic Ono Band and part of Terry Reid's group. As he played on Close to the Edge but left before the subsequent tour, Bruford was contractually obliged to share album royalties with White, and claims that Yes manager Brian Lane enforced a compensation payment of $10,000 from him.[19] White had one full rehearsal with the band before the tour, which saw the band play a total of 95 concerts in the US, Canada, the UK, Japan and Australia.[20]

Sales chart performance[edit]

Year Chart Position
1972 United States 3[7]
United Kingdom 4[8]
Netherlands 1[21]


Organization Level Date
RIAA (US) Gold 30 October 1972
RIAA (US) Platinum 10 April 1998
CRIA (Canada) Gold 1 December 1976
CRIA (Canada) Platinum 1 December 1977
BPI (UK) Gold 5 December 1984
BPI (UK) Platinum 5 December 1984

Track listings[edit]

Original LP & 2003 re-issue[edit]

Side one
No. Title Lyrics Music Length
1. "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"  
Jon Anderson, Steve Howe Anderson, Howe 18:43
Side two
No. Title Lyrics Music Length
1. "And You and I"
  • I. "Cord of Life"
  • II. "Eclipse"
  • III. "The Preacher, the Teacher"
  • IV. "The Apocalypse""  
Anderson Anderson, Howe, Bill Bruford, Chris Squire (except "Eclipse") 10:08
2. "Siberian Khatru"   Anderson Anderson, Howe, Rick Wakeman 8:55

2013 Definitive Edition[edit]

  1. "Close to the Edge"
    1. "The Solid Time of Change"
    2. "Total Mass Retain"
    3. "I Get Up, I Get Down"
    4. "Seasons of Man"
  2. "And You And I"
    1. "Cord of Life"
    2. "Eclipse"
    3. "The Preacher, the Teacher"
    4. "The Apocalypse"
  3. "Siberian Khatru"
  4. "America"
  5. "Close to the Edge" (early assembly / rough mix)

DVD & Blu-ray

  • 2013 stereo mixes (24/96 LPCM)
  1. "Close to the Edge"
  2. "And You And I"
  3. "Siberian Khatru"
  • Original 1972 stereo mixes (24/192 LPCM)
  1. "Close to the Edge"
  2. "And You And I"
  3. "Siberian Khatru"
  • 2013 5.1 surround sound mixes (24/96 LPCM)
  1. "Close to the Edge"
  2. "And You And I"
  3. "Siberian Khatru"
  • America
  1. "America" (5.1 surround sound)
  2. "America" (2013 stereo)
  3. "America" (original stereo)
  • Alternate album
  1. "Close to the Edge" (early assembly / rough mix)
  2. "And You And I" (alternative version)
  3. "Siberia" (studio run-through of "Siberian Khatru")
  • Single-versions and edits
  1. "Total Mass Retain" (single edit)
  2. "And You And I" (mono, promo single edit)
  3. "And You And I" (stereo, promo single edit)
  4. "America" (single edit)
  • 2013 Stereo instrumental mixes (Blu-ray only)
  1. "Close to the Edge"
  2. "And You And I"
  3. "Siberian Khatru"
  4. "America"
  • UK "needle-drop" LP transfer (Blu-ray only)
  1. "Close to the Edge"
  2. "And You And I"
  3. "Siberian Khatru"


Additional personnel
  • Eddy Offord – engineer, production
  • Bill Inglot – sound producer, remastering
  • Mike Dunne – tapes
  • Roger Dean – sleeve design, painting, photography
  • Martyn Adelman – photography
  • Brian Lane – co-ordinator
  • Steven Wilson - mastering, mixing (2013 Definitive Edition only)

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Atlantic SD 191332
  2. ^ Atlantic SD 250012
  3. ^ Atlantic SD 826662
  4. ^ Elektra R2 73790
  5. ^ Audio Fidelity AFZ147
  6. ^ Panegyric GYRBD50012
  1. ^ a b Bruford, p. 56
  2. ^ a b Bruford, p. 57
  3. ^ Morse, p. 35
  4. ^ a b Morse, p. 36
  5. ^ Morse, p. 39
  6. ^ Rowe, Jeri (23 April 2004). "Roger Dean: The artist behind the music". Greensboro News-Record. 
  7. ^ a b Close to the Edge – Yes > Charts & Awards > Billboard Album at AllMusic. Retrieved 19 May 2006.
  8. ^ a b "UK chart history – Yes Close to the Edge". Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  9. ^ Close to the Edge – Yes > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles at AllMusic. Retrieved 19 May 2006.
  10. ^ a b Thompson, Dave. Close to the Edge (Yes album) at AllMusic. Retrieved 18 March 2004.
  11. ^ Dahlen, Chris; Leon, Dominque; Tangari, Joe (8 February 2004). "Yes The Yes Album / Fragile / Close to the Edge / Tales from Topographic Oceans / Relayer / Going for the One / Tormato / Drama / 90125 > Album Reviews". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 5 April 2005. 
  12. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Yes > Consumer Guide Reviews". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 19 May 2006. 
  13. ^ Cromelin, Richard (9 November 1972). "Yes Close to the Edge > Album Review". Rolling Stone (121). Archived from the original on 14 December 2006. Retrieved 4 March 2005. 
  14. ^ Marsh, Dave; Swenson, John (Editors). The Rolling Stone Record Guide, 1st edition, Random House/Rolling Stone Press, 1979, p. 424.
  15. ^ "Yes – Close to the Edge (album review 2)". Sputnikmusic. 20 November 2010. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  16. ^ "Billboard Pick: Pop: YES: Close To The Edge". Billboard. 7 October 1972. 
  17. ^ Q Classic: Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock, 2005.
  18. ^ Top Progressive Rock albums,
  19. ^ Welch, Chris (2000). Close to the edge : the story of Yes ([Updated ed] ed.). London: Omnibus. p. 126. ISBN 0-7119-8041-1. 
  20. ^ Watkinson, David (2000). Yes : perpetual change : thirty years of Yes. London: Plexus. p. 106. ISBN 0-85-965-297-1. 
  21. ^ "Netherlands chart info – Yes Close to the Edge". Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  22. ^

External links[edit]