Yes – Close To The Edge (1972) – Panegoric Recordings GYRBD50012, 38’ (Pure Audio Blu-ray+standard CD) [11/5/2013] *****:
(Jon Anderson – vocals; Steve Howe – guitar, vocals; Chris Squire – bass, vocals; Rick Wakeman – keyboards; Bill Bruford – drums, percussion)
The progressive rock movement usurped the direction of music in the late sixties and early seventies. Groups like Pink Floyd, King Crimson, and Emerson Lake and Palmer released albums that defied the stereotypical “verse/chorus” compositional framework. In its place were longer suites that featured avant-garde, folk, psychedelic and classical influences. Additionally, instrumentation relied on electronics (especially keyboards) to provide an orchestral ambiance. Multi-track recording techniques were ambitious if not denser in the mix.
Among these pioneers was Yes. They achieved a commercial breakthrough with The Yes Album and Fragile, including hit singles (“I’ve Seen All Good People/Your Move” and “Roundabout”). During this period the band consisted of Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire Rick Wakeman and Bill Bruford. Their chemistry was electric, and in 1972 Yes decided to push the boundaries of rock. Close To The Edge (whose title track was inspired by Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha) was a thirty-eight minute album that consisted of three pieces. Considered a sonic achievement then, Steven Wilson has re-mastered the original tapes to Blu-ray and CD. The results are exceptional. The Blu-ray features a 24/96 PCM mix in 5.1 surround. From the opening bird noises on the title cut, the acoustic details are vivid and clearer than before. Initially, Yes layered track upon track which sounded muddled at times. Now Anderson’s vocals (“I Get Up I Get Down”) are clear and soaring. Howe’s jagged fusion guitar riffs (“The Solid Time Of Change”) are spirited and colorful. He also has a delicate touch on electric sitar. Squier (bass) and Bruford (drums) form a propulsive and synchronized rhythm section. Rick Wakeman is an anchor to the band, versatile and artistic on keyboards. His spine-tingling church pipe organ lends a symphonic touch and the many synthesizer runs facilitate the transitions.
The fluidity of the instrumentation comes alive in the 5.1 mix. Howe’s opening acoustic guitar chords on “And You And I” flow gracefully. Anderson’s tracked vocals sound fuller, but not opaque. This track is comprised of four movements. Folk structure (another important facet of progressive rock) defines “The Preacher The Teacher”. The essential hard rocking vibe of Yes can be found on “Siberian Khatru”. But when Wakeman throws in a harpsichord run, it’s a pleasant counter to the hard rock. Anderson’s high-register voice is unique and blends with the instrumentation. The additional track includes an edgy improvisational cover (one of three) of Paul Simon’s “America”. During the initial surround experience of Closer To The Edge, the listener is swept away by the complete aural immersion. On a second listen, it is easier to appreciate the conceptual arrangement of the songs.
There are many bonus features on the Blu-ray. Stereo instrumental mixes and the single versions and edits are more than “extra” material. The CD stereo mix is also a major technical update of the original analog version. There is an atmospheric rough mix of “Closer To The Edge” that is intriguing. Roger Dean is onboard with his impressive cover art. The good news is this is the first in a series of expanded Yes albums. [Why so many different mixes of the same things? The lyrics are all printed in the note booklet but they are hand-written so small they are unreadable…Ed.]
TrackList:2013 Stereo Mixes (24/96 PCM): Close To The Edge (i-The Solid Time Of Change; ii-Total Mass Retain; iii-I Get Up I Get Down; iv-Season Of Man); And You And I (i-Cord Of Life; ii-Eclipse; iii-The Preacher The Teacher; iv- The Apocalypse); Siberian Khatru 5.1 Surround Mixes (24/96 PCM/dts hd 24/48: Close To The Edge; And You And I; Siberian Khatru Original Stereo Mixes (24/192 PCM): Close To The Edge; And You And I; Siberian Khatru Additional Material: Alternate Album: (24/96 PCM): Close To The Edge; And You And I; Siberian Khatru Single Versions/Edits (24/192 PCM): Total Mass Retain (single edit); And You And I (promo single edit, mono); And You And I (promo single edit, stereo); America (single version) Blu-ray Exclusive: 2013 Stereo Instrumental Mixes (24/96 PCM): Close To The Edge; And You And I; Siberian Khatru; America UK Vinyl Transfers (AI/BI UK Vinyl Transfer 24/96 PCM): Close To The Edge; And You And I; Siberian Khatru