Yes | Close to the Edge – 1972

Revisiting Teenage geek music and surprised by some depth

I didn’t know it at the beginning of the year, but 1972 would be my last year at Carlingford High.

I now know that there are many conversations continually happening as a parent. The change of high school by my brother and I must have been the result of several such conversations between my Mother and Father. As a child, I didn’t know the reason for changing schools. I still don’t.

This may have also been the year that we moved house at Christmas time while I was away with a school friend and his family. My friends were Nick P. and Ross ?

The house we moved from was in Mars Road in West Pennant Hills. It was a great place to grow up as a 13 year old boy. There was bush over the road that went on until the back of Bourke. I think at the stage I had a mini bike that would be ridden up and down that road for hours. The noise must have driven the neighbours crazy.

The only other I remember from around this time is a crash on the golf course. A small plane had problems and attempted a landing on the local golf course in June 1972. It bounced three time and stopped in a house two door up from a friends house on Copeland Road. The report of the crash is here. One fatality.

I didn’t hear this album until a few years later (around ’75 or ’76), I would have thought it was stupid music when I was 13. I would have thought it a bit of a wank at the age of 23. This music had a limited age profile when I was younger.

I hadn’t heard this music type for close on 30 years now. I was inspired to listen last week when Marg came home and said she’d heard a great radio show linking Stravinsky & Stockhausen to the Beatles, Frank Zappa and some other bands. The show is called Into the Music and the link is here – http://www.abc.net.au/rn/intothemusic/

This album is the stuff that Prog Rock was built upon. This is symphonic music built on simple melodies, confused by polyrhythmic beats. Skilfully played and stirred with weird spiritual lyrics (I think that parts of this album are built upon the works of that hack, Hermann Hesse and in particular his book ‘Siddhartha’). This was the stuff that a certain type of teenager grew up on, it was a split between Yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer, and King Crimson, all different takes on similar ingredients. All serious and talented. This is neck beard territory.

The real surprise, listening to it again, is how well it stands up. There are some stunningly beautiful musical fragments in this mix. Part of the problem, or part of the definition of this music, is the epic length of tracks. (only 3 songs on this album). The songs progress and develop, phasing through many variations on a theme.  As an example, listen to And You and I

I remember the keyboard work of Rick Wakeman, and the voice of Jon Anderson. The real surprise is the strength of the bass. It drives the band on the other two tracks on the album.

‘Close to the Edge’ reached #3 in the UK pop album charts in 1972, those were very different times. And despite the times a’changing, it is hard to imagine Sufjan Stevens ‘Age of Adz‘ without ‘Close to the Edge’

Well worth a listen without predujice.

Personnel
  • Jon Anderson – vocals
  • Steve Howe – guitars, vocals
  • Chris Squire – bass, vocals
  • Rick Wakeman – keyboards
  • Bill Bruford – drums, percussion
No.
Title
Writer(s)
Length
1.
“Close to the Edge”
  • “The Solid Time of Change”
  • “Total Mass Retain”
  • “I Get Up I Get Down”
  • “Seasons of Man”
Anderson, Howe
18:43
2.
“And You and I”
  • “Cord of Life”
  • “Eclipse”
  • “The Preacher the Teacher”
  • “Apocalypse”
Anderson; themes by Bruford, Howe, Squire
10:08
3.
“Siberian Khatru”
Anderson; themes by Howe, Wakeman
8:55
Bonus tracks (2003 reissue)
No.
Title
Writer(s)
Length
4.
America” (single version)
Paul Simon
4:12
5.
“Total Mass Retain” (single version)
Anderson, Howe
3:21
6.
“And You and I” (alternate version)
Anderson; themes by Bruford, Howe, Squire
10:17
7.
“Siberia” (studio run-through of “Siberian Khatru”)
Anderson; themes by Anderson, Howe, Wakeman
9:19
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3 Responses to Yes | Close to the Edge – 1972

  1. Pingback: A life in albums | michaelsprott

  2. Jennie says:

    This album brings back memories for me – it was one of the first ones I listened to that told me that it was ok to enjoy music other than what was played on commercial radio – I think you introduced me to Yes, actually. I remember listening to Yes, Genesis and Moody Blues a lot in the company of yourself, Karen B and others whose names escape me. Karen also exposed me to Kate Bush. I saved money I earned teaching flute to buy vinyls of these artists. I still have them – treasured possessions that I don’t have the equipment to play right now.
    Keep the album reviews coming – your are unearthing all kinds of long-ago memories of people, places and events.

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