Album Review: Close To The Edge by Yes

by Tom Edathikunnel

Close To The Edge by Yes is quite possibly one of the greatest progressive rock albums of all time. At first glance the cover art is a simple green gradation, offering only the bands now iconic logo with the albums title. However the LP’s gatefold reveals a rich dreamlike landscape (below) by artist Roger Dean that holds exceptional prowess against the stark contrast of the cover. I have always found this to be a fitting analogy to the album itself, which rewards listeners who chose to explore deeper than what may lie on the surface.

Close To The Edge consists of three tracks. ‘Close To The Edge’ takes up the entire A side of the LP and runs at an impressive 19 minutes. According to Jon Anderson, co-composer and vocalist, the title track is inspired by Hermann Hesse’s book Siddhartha. The song explores the “seasons” of a man who searches for truth and universal understanding, ultimately finding spiritual peace and awakening by the waters of a flowing river.

Side B consists of the 10 minute piece entitled ‘And You and I’ and the now classic ‘Siberian Khatru’. ‘And You and I’ is subdivided into four movements, and is one of the clearest examples of each of the members musical styles and talents. ‘Siberian Khatru’ is a heavier and faster piece. It is now what many fans consider to be the defining “Yes” sound, and has become a staple among the bands various tours.  The song showcases the bands unique individual talents, clearly displayed by keyboardists Rick Wakeman, and his impressive harpsichord solo.

I consider Close To The Edge to be one of the greatest progressive rock albums of all time. In terms of longevity, this album stands the test of time, only growing better and brighter with age. The band embraces the art direction of Roger Dean, which forms imaginative visuals seamlessly fused with the band’s music. One cannot think of Yes without the sweeping cosmic landscapes coming to mind.  In terms of musicianship and style, Yes delivers intricate themes and time signatures with smooth transition and stunning skill.

All the band members stand out when examined individually, but when heard together in harmony I am always astounded and inspired. Close To The Edge establishes the full power of a challenging concept album, and sets the stage for other progressive bands like Pink Floyd, Rush, and Genesis.

Close To the Edge by Yes
Jon Anderson: Vocals and Lyrics
Chris Squire: Bass, Vocals
Steve Howe: Guitar, Vocals
Rick Wakeman: Keyboards
Bill Bruford: Drums, Percussion

Close To The Edge Interior LP by Roger Dean