Close to the Edge

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Close to the Edge
Yes-close.jpg
Studio album by Yes
Released 13 September 1972 (1972-09-13)
Recorded February–July 1972
Studio Advision Studios
(London, England)
Genre Progressive rock
Length 37:51
Label Atlantic
Producer
Yes chronology
Fragile
(1971)
Close to the Edge
(1972)
Yessongs
(1973)
Singles from Close to the Edge
  1. "And You and I (Part I)"/"And You and I (Part II)"
    Released: October 1972 (US)
  2. "And You and I"/"Roundabout"
    Released: January 1974 (UK)

Close to the Edge is the fifth studio album by the English progressive rock band Yes, released on 13 September 1972 by Atlantic Records. Following a tour in support of their previous album, Fragile, Yes returned to Advision Studios in London to record their next album. Produced by the band and audio engineer Eddy Offord, the album consists of three tracks: "Close to the Edge" on side one; "And You and I" and "Siberian Khatru" on side two. When recording for the album finished, drummer Bill Bruford, frustrated by the band's style and laborious recording in the studio, left to join King Crimson.

Close to the Edge became the band's greatest commercial success at the time of its release, reaching number 3 on the Billboard 200 in the United States and number 4 on the UK Albums Chart. Yes supported the album with their 1972–73 world tour, their biggest since their formation. A two-part edit of "And You and I" released in the United States reached number 42 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Close to the Edge was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1998 for shipments of over one million copies. It was reissued in 1994, 2003, and 2013, the latter included unreleased tracks and a new stereo and 5.1 surround sound mix by Steven Wilson. Critical reception was mixed on release, though the album is retrospectively regarded as one of the band's best work, and a landmark recording in progressive rock.

Production[edit]

Background[edit]

By 1972, Yes had stabilised with a line-up of lead vocalist Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, drummer Bill Bruford, guitarist Steve Howe, and keyboardist Rick Wakeman.[1] In March 1972, they wrapped their six-month 1971–72 tour of the UK and North America to support their previous album, 1971's Fragile. On 1 and 2 February 1972, during one of the tour's rest periods, the band booked time at Advision Studios in London to put down some tracks they had developed for their next album, Close to the Edge.[2] After a short break from touring, they took another break before they entered rehearsals at the Una Billings School of Dance in Shepherd's Bush in May.[3] They prepared some material during this time and proceeded to record it,[4] though none of the tracks were fully written at the rehearsal stage, leaving the group to devise the rest of the songs in the studio and learning to play them through afterwards.[3] On several occasions the arrangements that the group had started to assemble were so complex that they were forgotten by the time the next day's session began. This led to the start of having each rehearsal put on tape for future reference.[5] Bruford devised the album's title to reflect the state of the band at the time.[6]

Recording[edit]

By June 1972, Yes had relocated to Advision Studios to record Close to the Edge.[7] Eddy Offord, who had worked with Yes since 1970's Time and a Word and mixed their sound on the Fragile tour, assumed his role as audio engineer and producer, sharing his production duties with each member of the band.[1] Having worked on the band's sound on tour, Offord wished to recreate the high feeling the band had on nights when they performed well inside the studio. To attempt this, he got their road crew to construct a large stage in the recording studio for the band to perform on, thus enabling Bruford's drums to resonate with the wooden platform and making the group sound "more live".[5] The studio also housed a booth-like structure constructed of wooden boards which Howe performed in to further enhance his sound.[8] During the recording, the band decided to use a particular take for a track, but realised the studio's cleaner had put the tape in the rubbish. A scramble in the bins outside the studio ensued, and the missing piece was found and inserted into the master.[6]

During their month of recording, Melody Maker reporter and band biographer Chris Welch visited the studio to observe the recording progress. Welch described a stressful atmosphere, coupled with "outbursts of anarchy" from Bruford, Howe and Wakeman and disagreement from each member after one mix of a song section was complete.[7] Welch sensed the band were not a cohesive unit, with Anderson and Howe the only ones who knew what direction the album was to take, leaving the rest adding bits and pieces "to a vast jigsaw of sound", to which Squire and Offord were the two who helped put their idea into shape. Wakeman and Bruford, to Welch, remained "innocent bystanders" in the matter.[7] In one instance, Welch arrived at the studio to hear a preview of a completed passage that took several days of round the clock work to produce. He heard a dull thud, to find Offord had fallen asleep on top of the mixing console from exhaustion, "leaving music from the spinning tape deck blaring at an intolerable level".[9]

Bruford found Close to the Edge particularly difficult to write and record with the rest of the band, calling the process torturous and like "climbing Mount Everest".[5] He became frustrated with the band's happy, diatonic music and favoured more jazz-oriented and improvisational compositions.[10][11] This became an issue with the group's way of composing and recording, as each section of a track was played through and discussed section by section. Bruford said: "Every instrument was up for democratic election, and everybody had to run an election campaign on every issue. It was horrible, it was incredibly unpleasant, and unbelievably hard work.[10] Squire became a growing source of discontent for Bruford, citing his frequent lateness for rehearsals and his way of working. In one instance, Bruford fell asleep on a sofa in the studio control room while Squire was "poring over a couple of knobs on the [mixing] desk" to determine how much equalisation should be applied to his bass tracks, only to wake up several hours later, finding Squire "in the same place, still considering the relative position of the two knobs".[6][12] Bruford was constantly encouraged by Anderson to write, something he felt grateful for years later,[13] but by the time recording was complete, he felt he had done his best on Close to the Edge and could not offer better arrangements. "So then I knew I needed a breath of fresh air", and left the group.[11]

Songs[edit]

"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 sounds and bird chirps, measured approximately 40 feet in length and took two days to record.[3] 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.[14][15] The track was assembled in pieces throughout, as Bruford described, "in ten, twelve, sixteen-bar sections".[4] 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.[16] 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".[14] 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".[17] The chorus lyric "Close to the edge, down by a river" was inspired by Howe while he lived in Battersea by the River Thames.[18] 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.[19] 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".[20][14] Wakeman's organ solo was written by Howe for the guitar originally, but he thought the arrangement sounded better on the organ.[17] It is played on the pipe organ at St Giles-without-Cripplegate church in Barbican.[21] 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.[17]

"And You and I" originated as a more folk-oriented song that Anderson developed with Howe.[14] 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.[1] 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.[12] While introducing the song on tour, Anderson said its working title was "The Protest Song".[22] 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.[23][8] 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".[24] "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".[14]

"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.[11][14] 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".[8] 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.[14] 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.[11]

Sleeve design[edit]

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

Close to the Edge was packaged with a gatefold sleeve designed and illustrated by Roger Dean, who had also designed the cover for Fragile (1971). It marked the first appearance of the band's iconic logotype, placed on top a simple front cover design of a linear colour gradient from black to green.[1] Dean's logo has been described as a "calligraphed colophon".[2] In his original design, Dean wanted the album to resemble the quality of a gold embossed book.[25] The sleeve includes pictures of the group and Offord that were photographed by Dean and Martyn Adelman, who had played with Squire in the late 1960s as a member of The Syn.[1] Dean wrote the sleeve's text and lyric sheet by hand.[26] On reflection on the album's design, 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".[27]

Release[edit]

Close to the Edge was released on 13 September 1972,[28] three months into the band's 1972–73 world tour to promote the album. It became their biggest commercial success since their formation, reaching number 3 on the Billboard 200 chart in the United States[29] and number 4 on the UK Albums Chart.[30] In the Netherlands, the album went to number one.[31] The album received 450,000 advanced orders in the United States.[32] On 30 October 1972, the album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for 500,000 copies sold in the United States.[33] Atlantic Records owner Ahmet Ertegun presented the group with their gold disc award at a restaurant in New York City on 20 November, where their manager, Brian Lane, announced the band's new five-year contract with Atlantic.[34] cite The album continued to sell, and was certified platinum for one million copies sold on 10 April 1998.[33]

Yes released "And You and I" as a two-part single in the United States in October 1972.[35] In the United Kingdom, the song was released in its entirety with "Roundabout" on its B-side.[36] It peaked at number 42 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in the United States for the week of 16 December 1972.[37] A single edit of "Total Mass Retain" was released as the B-side to the group's non-album single, a rendition of "America" made famous by Simon & Garfunkel, released on 17 July 1972.[28]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[38]
Pitchfork (9.0/10)[39]
Robert Christgau C+[40]
Rolling Stone (1972) (favorable)[41]
The Rolling Stone Record Guide 5/5 stars[42]

Close to the Edge received favourable reviews among critics. New Musical Express printed a more mixed review from Ian MacDonald on 2 September 1972. He thought the group were "not just close to the edge, they've gone right over it", though they "played their God-damned guts out" on the album which he called "an attempt to overwhelm us withich resulted in only unmemorable meaninglessness". MacDonald concluded: "On every level but the ordinary aesthetic one, it's one of the most remarkable records pop has yet produced".[43] Henry Medoza opened his review for The San Bernardino Sun with: "Not since ... Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band has there been one side on an album that expressed such a complete and exciting a musical thought as side one", and thought it presented the group with a new level of sophistication. He praised the group's vocal harmonies and Bruford's "deep irregular base drum" on the opening of the title track, but picked its third section as the most interesting with the trading vocals, Wakeman's "dream-like" and "powerful" organ playing. Mendoza described side two as more "uninspiring" than the first, but praised the vocals and harmonies on both tracks, noting they sound like its own instrument on "Siberian Khatru".[44] The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal printed another positive review by Jon Clemens. He called the title track a "virtual sound trip", moving "quickly, loudly, in a frenzy" that "contrasts brilliantly" during "I Get Up, I Get Down", and praises the vocals during the section. Clemens thought highly of Howe and Wakeman's interplay throughout, but thought the group's tendency to frequently change tempo risks to distract the listener to the music.[45] For the San Mateo Times, Peter J. Barsocchini thought the album is "good in concept and performance", with the title track "quite likely the best piece of music" the band had recorded in its career. "And You and I", Barsocchini thought, is "an interesting meshing of acoustic and electronic music" that is "tightly, integrally produced". To him, "Siberian Khatru" was comparable to their Fragile album that does not further the group's sound like the album's other two cuts do..[46] 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."[47]

The album has received many positive retrospective reviews. In his review for AllMusic, Dave Thompson gave the album five stars out of five, hailing it as a "flawless masterpiece".[38] 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.[48] 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 of the 100 Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time for Guitar World, the album came in at number 67.

Reissues[edit]

In 1987, Close to the Edge was reissued by Atlantic Records on CD 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 editions 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]

Bruford's departure and tour[edit]

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.[49] White had one full rehearsal with the band prior to the tour's start on 30 July 1972 which saw the band play a total of 95 concerts in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Japan and Australia. The tour ended in April 1973.[50]

The band embarked on their largest yet world tour to promote the album. Lasting from 30 July 1972 until 22 April 1973, and including 95 performances,[51] the tour began at the Dallas Memorial Auditorium, and ended at the West Palm Beach Auditorium in West Palm Beach, Florida.[52] The tour was Alan White's first with the band.[53] Recordings from the tour, both film and audio, were included on the band's 1973 live album, Yessongs.[54] The filmed performance was recorded at the December 1972 shows at the Rainbow Theatre in London.[55]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks produced and arranged by Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Bill Bruford, Chris Squire, and Rick Wakeman.

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 (except "Eclipse"), Bill Bruford, Chris Squire 10:08
2. "Siberian Khatru"   Anderson Anderson, Howe, Rick Wakeman 8:55
2003 CD bonus tracks
2013 Definitive Edition

Personnel[edit]

Yes
Production

Certifications[edit]

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

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Atlantic SD 191332
  2. ^ Atlantic SD 250012
  3. ^ Atlantic SD 826662
  4. ^ Elektra R2 73790
  5. ^ Audio Fidelity AFZ147
  6. ^ Panegyric GYRBD50012

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Close to the Edge (LP liner notes). Atlantic Records. 1972. K 50012. 
  2. ^ a b Welch 2008, p. 120.
  3. ^ a b c Welch 2008, p. 122.
  4. ^ a b Bruford 2009, p. 56.
  5. ^ a b c Morse 1996, p. 35.
  6. ^ a b c Bruford 2009, p. 57.
  7. ^ a b c Welch 2008, p. 123.
  8. ^ a b c Morse 1996, p. 39.
  9. ^ Welch 2008, p. 124.
  10. ^ a b Morse 1996, p. 34.
  11. ^ a b c d Morse 1996, p. 40.
  12. ^ a b Morse 1996, p. 37.
  13. ^ Morse 1996, p. 121.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Bosso, Joe (2 December 2012). "Jon Anderson talks Yes' Close To The Edge track-by-track". MusicRadar. Retrieved 24 September 2016. 
  15. ^ Popoff 2016, p. 35.
  16. ^ "Yes Guitarist Steve Howe Discusses the Making of 'Fragile' and 'Close to the Edge'". GuitarWorld. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 24 September 2016. 
  17. ^ a b c Morse 1996, p. 36.
  18. ^ Dersio, Nick (24 April 2013). "Yes' Steve Howe on Jon Davison, performing classic LPs, a renewed solo focus: Something Else! Interview". Something Else!. Retrieved 24 September 2016. 
  19. ^ Hedges 1982, p. 68.
  20. ^ Hedges 1996, p. 69.
  21. ^ Mettler, Mike (26 February 2014). "Total 5.1 Mass Retain: Steven Wilson on Mixing Yes' Close to the Edge in Surround Sound". The SoundBard. Retrieved 23 September 2016. 
  22. ^ Anderson, Jon (11 November 1972). Disc 5, track 5 on Progeny: Seven Shows from Seventy-Two. Anderson's introduction to "And You and I". (CD). Rhino Records. 081227956417. 
  23. ^ Welch 2008, p. 125.
  24. ^ Stewart, Tony (15 July 1972). "Yes on edge". New Musical Express. pp. 8–9 – via ProQuest. (subscription required (help)). 
  25. ^ Tiano, Mike (2008). "NFTE #308: Conversation with Roger Dean from 3 September 2008". Notes from the Edge. Retrieved 29 August 2015. 
  26. ^ Brodsky, Greg (21 October 2015). "Roger Dean Interview: Getting Close To The Edge". Best Classic Bands. Retrieved 25 September 2016. 
  27. ^ Rowe, Jeri (23 April 2004). "Roger Dean: The artist behind the music". Greensboro News-Record. 
  28. ^ a b Close to the Edge [2003 Remastered and Expanded Version] (CD liner notes). Rhino Records. 1972. 8122-73790-2. 
  29. ^ Close to the Edge – Yes > Charts & Awards > Billboard Album at AllMusic. Retrieved 19 May 2006.
  30. ^ "UK chart history – Yes Close to the Edge". chartstats.com. Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  31. ^ "Netherlands chart info – Yes Close to the Edge". ultratop.be. Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  32. ^ "Record Roundup". New Musical Express. 16 September 1972. p. 4 – via ProQuest. (subscription required (help)). 
  33. ^ a b "American album certifications – Yes – Close to the Edge". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 15 September 2016. 
  34. ^ Solomon, Linda (2 December 1972). "Yes make Gold, Ringo hires Cheech & Chong". New Musical Express. p. 33 – via ProQuest. (subscription required (help)). 
  35. ^ Welch 2008, p. 311.
  36. ^ Welch 2008, p. 312.
  37. ^ Close to the Edge – Yes > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles at AllMusic. Retrieved 19 May 2006.
  38. ^ a b Thompson, Dave. Close to the Edge at AllMusic. Retrieved 18 March 2004.
  39. ^ 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. 
  40. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Yes > Consumer Guide Reviews". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 19 May 2006. 
  41. ^ 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. 
  42. ^ Marsh, Dave; Swenson, John (Editors). The Rolling Stone Record Guide, 1st edition, Random House/Rolling Stone Press, 1979, p. 424.
  43. ^ MacDonald, Ian (2 September 1972). "Meaningless magnificence from Yes?". New Musical Express. p. 15 – via ProQuest. (subscription required (help)). 
  44. ^ Mendoza, Henry (28 September 1972). "Soundings - Close to the Edge". The San Bernardino Sun. p. 47. Retrieved September 15, 2016 – via Newspapers.com. free to read
  45. ^ Clemens, John (2 November 1972). "British Group 'Yes' Close to Sounds of Future Rock". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. p. 57. Retrieved September 15, 2016 – via Newspapers.com. free to read
  46. ^ Barsocchini, Peter J. (7 October 1972). "Pop Corner -". The Times. San Mateo, California. p. 34. Retrieved September 15, 2016 – via Newspapers.com. free to read
  47. ^ "Billboard Pick: Pop: YES: Close To The Edge". Billboard. 7 October 1972. 
  48. ^ Q Classic: Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock, 2005.
  49. ^ Welch 2008, p. 126.
  50. ^ Watkinson 2000, p. 106.
  51. ^ Peter Whipple. "Index". Forgotten Yesterdays. Retrieved 29 June 2012. [dead link]
  52. ^ Peter Whipple. "The Fragile Tour". Forgotten Yesterdays. Retrieved 1 July 2012. [dead link]
  53. ^ Watkinson 2000, p. 109.
  54. ^ Yessongs (CD liner notes), Yes, Atlantic Records, 1973, K 60045 
  55. ^ Watkinson 2000, p. 108.
Bibliography

External links[edit]