Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Point-Counterpoint: Yes - Close to the Edge


Even though Yes is one of the original progenitors of the progressive rock genre, it's taken me years to be willing and able to truly process their music.  I can't really describe why that was; but be that as it may, two years ago I finally decided I needed to see what all the fuss was about.

Because Yes has been around so long, like any older group they have some albums that are stellar and some that are just "meh".  Thankfully, Close to the Edge is the former.  With only three tracks and clocking in at barely under forty minutes, it's a behemoth to try and digest, but doing so is more than worth the while.

The first song (in fact, in the original vinyl, the whole first side - not unlike Rush's "2112" or "Hemispheres") is the title track, one that starts with ambient sounds before erupting in a funkadelic beat.  The bass, guitars, and keyboards are all going in different directions, soaring and weaving into one another, until vocal harmonies break through, silence everything, and it all coalesces into a wonderful whole, until the motif for the song is presented.  The vocals are nearly always in harmony, and it flies quickly from quiet to loud with abandon, and the lyrics are mystical and spiritual.  The real shining instrument here is Rick Wakeman's keyboard - he stands out among other very talented musicians, especially during that vibrant, effulgent organ section.  It's one of the best examples of early progressive rock you'll ever hear.

This continues throughout the next two tracks as well, "And You and I" as well as "Siberian Khatru".  The former continues an eastern, mystical motif musically and lyrically; it is about renewal and rebirth, whereas the latter seethes with energy and has a great beat and catchy syncopated guitar work.  Both also exemplify what early progressive rock was, and it's obvious why this is regarded as many to be Yes' best album.

Final verdict: Adore it (with a mind for expansion)


Ah Yes.  One of the quintessential progressive rock bands, even though they probably need it, they should require no introduction.  Certainly groundbreaking, often innovative, Yes has long been a rotating cast of very skilled musicians.

Oh, and they are boring.

Yeah, I said it.  Boooooooooring.  Like insomniac curing boring.  In fact, there is really only one song of theirs I can even stand.  "Roundabout" is a decent track that wears out its welcome if you aren't hearing the radio edit.

So what can I say about Close to the Edge?  It is an epic, sprawling work that is full of pseudo-mystical lyrics, impressive yet incredibly subdued music (even when "energetic"), piercingly high vocals and ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. . .

Final verdict: Ignore it (unless you need some help with your insomnia)


  1. You have lost your progressive rock cred. You're out of the family, sir.

  2. Yeah, yeah. I know. But seriously. All I could think of was snoring sound effects while writing this.