Lee Speaks About Music… #13

Close To The Edge (The Definitive Edition CD/Blu Ray) – Yes

Y - CTTE

Introduction…

After a successful tour of their previous album Fragile which ended in February 1972 the band had a short break and went back into the Advision studios in London to record their 5th album that was to be Close To The Edge. Though the band at this stage was very stable with its line up, the fact that the band went into the studios with hardly any solid written material or any genuine ideas of what they was going to be doing, did not help the situation at all.

Close To The Edge for many of the band members became a very frustrating album to make. The drummer Bill Bruford much later went on to say the title of the album reflected the state of the band at the time of making it. It’s very true that most of the material for the album was written by Anderson and Howe. It’s also true that most of the material got lost and thrown in the bin during the process of making it.

The very fact that they was working on longer pieces meant that it had to be made in many more parts, the self titled track was pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle and whilst Anderson and Howe were writing and constructing the parts in little stages, meant that the other members of the band were twiddling their thumbs for most of time waiting for them to get the parts ready for them to play something along to them.

Rick Wakeman spent more time in the studio bar getting wrecked out of his head. Because of the complexity of the material it meant that many arrangements had to be worked on to get each part right, it was very hard work and that stressful for Bill Bruford perhaps the most, that as soon as the album was finished a good 6 months later, on the 19th of July he quit the band to join King Crimson before the album was even released. He did however offer his services to play the material live on some the bands live shows when they was ready to put on another live tour.

The Packaging & Artwork…

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Has previously mentioned regarding the packaging on both of my reviews for The Yes Album and Fragile it has some good points and bad points. What I like about it is how it very much looks like a miniature version of the original gatefold vinyl album cover. The fact that they made it just like the vinyl album out of cardboard instead of sticking it in a plastic jewel case makes it that more appealing.

However the fact that they used a thinner cardboard is not that practical at all, and rather suggests that they cut a few corners and made it on the cheap side. The major faults are that the cardboard is too thin to be able to store the booklet inside the compartments that hold both the discs, and the cover does not close properly because they used a thinner piece of cardboard to construct the packaging in the first place.

If they had spent that little more money on the material as Arjen Lucassen did with his latest Ayreon album The Source he released earlier this year (to which I have also reviewed) none of these problems would of occurred in the first place. It also would of been nice if they actually could of fixed the booklet to the inside of the gatefold sleeve rather than having it loose to fall out. The booklet does give some background information of the time the album was made. But does not go into great detail.

Had they spent that little extra and put more thought into making it in the first place, they would not be losing points and I am pretty sure the customers would of been far more satisfied with the end result for doing so too.

The Artwork.

Once again the Roger Dean was chosen to do the artwork for Yes and most notably here is how he had shaped the Logo for the band’s name. The 1972 album Close To The Edge was the first Yes album to feature it.

Yes Logo 1

The Bubble Logo

Dean’s bubble design of the band’s logo was used for the biggest majority of the band’s album’s and was the very thing you could identify the band with. The band loved it and so did it’s fans it was a stunning piece of work I felt. Interestingly though much later on in the 70’s Jon Anderson had a fall out with Roger Dean and used Hypnosis to design the cover for their 1977 Going For The One album. But he still wanted Dean’s bubble logo on the cover, to which it very much was put on it as well.

Steve Howe hated Anderson’s decision of dropping Roger Dean from doing artwork for that album and they had many rows over it as well. In my opinion Anderson should of listened to Howe in the first place.

There is no doubt that Roger Dean loved working on the band’s album’s because he could draw a lot from their music and even the titles they gave to their songs.

Close To The Edge

Roger Dean’s Inspiration Of Close To The Edge

His artwork that was placed on the inside of the gatefold sleeve of the album is a marvellous piece of work that was all inspired by the name of the band’s album and self titled track. The music and the picture here are both very imaginative pieces of fine art and are a perfect match. There was no doubt in my mind that Dean was the right man for the job. The relationship between the Yes Music and Dean’s artwork was a perfect marriage.

Besides the artwork Roger Dean also wrote out all the lyrics and most of the linear notes by hand for this album too.

Early Thoughts…

Most of my early thoughts I have already mentioned in my previous reviews of both The Yes Album and Fragile. This is very much down to the fact that I never started buying the band’s music till 1973 and after purchasing Yessongs first which took me a good while to pay for with my pocket money each week. It also took some time back then to save up and buy their back catalogue as well in the same year.

Though if I remember rightly, besides buying Yessongs in 1973 I did also manage to buy The Yes Album. Fragile and Close To The Edge all in the same year. I am pretty sure I got Close To The Edge at the end of 1973 being has my birthday was in that last month of the year, and the money my dad used to send to me for my birthday would of helped me buy it in that month too. I also remember Tales from Topographic Oceans came out whilst I was still finishing off paying for the album, and I even put a deposit on that too.

Having two older brother’s one 5 years older and the other 7 years older was very useful, especially when it came around to earning a bit more extra pennies for various errands I used to run for them. I was barely in my teens and I honestly do not think I would of been able to buy these album’s with my pocket money alone.

My 2nd oldest brother Martin brought me most of my Gilbert O’ Sullivan and Elton John album’s just for going to town with him so he could get stuff for his guitars at the music shop. My oldest brother Paul would always give me 50p for just going down to the chippy for him. Most times I saved the money and on other occasions I brought myself pie and chips with it.

There are a couple of things though I could mention in this part of the review. The first being that when I backtracked on the band’s back catalogue of music. I actually thought The Yes Album was their first album. I had no idea they had made two albums that came before it, and I never brought those until the very late 70’s.

The other thing is regarding the live album Yessongs back in those days was that  I very much played my albums on my oldest brother’s HiFi to which my brother used to let me do so. To be honest we kept our record collections that we brought together at my mom’s house, and we both played each other’s album’s on many occasions from our both collections. I would say that around 70% of the music we both brought back then, we had the same taste for with what we personally both liked.

The very thing I noticed about Yessongs back in those days is that the vinyl album sounded purely fantastic played on any HiFi in the 70’s. Has the years and decades went past, and has one went out and changed their HiFi for something one considered better due to changing of new technology. The album lost every inch of the quality it originally had. There is no doubt that the new technology had improved the HiFi and the fact that it did, really shows how poor the live album was recorded in the first place.

With the arrival of the CD in the mid 80’s I went out and brought Yessongs on CD hoping that it would put some life back into it, that it had back in the 70’s on my brothers old HiFi. What a massive mistake that was. It sounded purely dreadful. It was at this stage I was wishing I still had my brothers old HiFi so I could play my vinyl album on the thing, to which I did originally end up with when I left home.

It was not until the 2003 remastered Rhino release of it, that it started to sound any better, but I have to say still not as good as the vinyl album sounded back played on an HiFi from the 70’s. I think the fact that the live album was poorly recorded in the first place, was the reason that Steven Wilson did not want to go anywhere near it when he chose to the work on the new mixes of the band’s earlier back catalogue of music.

The Definitive Edition Release…

The first thing I noticed about the Definitive Edition release of Close To The Edge is the fact that Steve Wilson for some reason decided to do this album first. It may have been that he only intended to work on one of the band’s album’s in the first place, and this one was his personal favourite.

Maybe after the band heard the purely outstanding job he done on it, they persuaded him to do the rest. But one thing I can tell you, and I am not kidding you. Out of the 4 of the 5 albums I have so far in this series he has remixed. There is no doubt in my mind that he done the best work on this album. It’s purely amazingly stunning in every detail and leaves the vinyl record standing in the dust. The 5.1 mix is a master class piece of work.

The “Definitive Edition” of Close To The Edge was released on the 11th of November 2013 on the Panegyric label just as all of the definitive editions were released on the same label. I got mine for £16.56p from Amazon. Since the release of all these new Steven Wilson mixes the Japanese market and even some other countries have once again flooded the market once again with SACD versions.

No doubt they have just copied Wilson’s mixes and are trying to make a quick buck. They are far from authorised and have the rights that Wilson had to do such a thing with, and no way have they been done from the original master tapes that Wilson was given permission to use either.

Since the year 2004 Sony put a massive blow to what music could be released on SACD and mainly used the media format for Classical music only these days. To be quite honest if Wilson would have had the rights from Sony to release his new editions on SACD he most likely would of done so.

The band Genesis were very lucky to be given the permission in 2007 to be able to release their new mixes on the media format, and it was only down to the fact that they were a more successful band than Yes were in their later years after both Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett had left that they were given the permission to do so.

The CD

I have to say the CD has very much gained its “Total Mass Retain” on this mix and is mind blowingly staggering. Even when ripped down to a 320 kbps MP3 it still sounds quite amazing. But not on the same par as playing the CD. There is no doubt that even the CD is a winner over the original vinyl album here. The CD also comes with 2 bonus tracks in relation to the 4 bonus tracks you got with 2003 Rhino CD. I shall go into more detail about those in the bonus section of my review here.

The Blu Ray

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The main menu on the Blu Ray may seem on the short side regarding it only having 3 options to choose from here. But as you click on each option a new window opens up giving you more options to choose from. By clicking on the 1st option “2013 Mixes” it will present you with the following screen.

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Everything about the first 4 options here are all related to the new Steve Wilson mixes of the album.  The top 2 you see here are the both 5.1 Mixes. The 1st being in LPCM 24/96K and the 2nd is the DTS HD Master Mix. Surprisingly this HD Master Mix is only in 24/48K and not the 24/96K we got with the rest of the album’s that came after it. Never the less the DTS HD Master Mix at 24/48K still sounds way better than LPCM 24/96K Mix by a very large margin too.

Though there is no option for a Stereo Mix here apart from the Instrumental Mixes which are also in LPCM 24/96K. You can quite easily access the Stereo Mix from the 5.1 Mixes simply by pressing the Audio Button on the remote control of your Blu Ray Player whilst playing the music.

Once you have made your audio choice from here you will be presented with the next screen.

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From this screen you can simply press on the 1st track to play the whole album, or select to play one of the other tracks on the album. Notice that the only tracks you can play here were the 3 tracks that was on the original album, and not any of the bonus tracks.

This is how I prefer albums to be, and I have always felt they should put the bonus tracks on a separate CD or in this case on another part of the disc to which they have done. No doubt they are ticking all my personal boxes with how the tracks have been complied on the Blu Ray.

By pressing on any of the tracks you will be presented with the next screen.

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Unfortunately you get this picture of the album’s inside artwork by Roger Dean displayed for all of the 3 tracks on the album. It would of been nicer if it displayed perhaps a different picture for every track. But it’s a lovely picture and not just the front cover that’s displayed with The Yes Album on all of its tracks.

When the music is finished it will return to the previous menu and from there you can go back to the main menu.

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The 2nd of the 3 options on the main menu will bring you to this section of the disc which is the “Original Mixes”. In this section is the original Master Mix of the 1972 album that was recorded in the Advision Studios in London. This is really a good thing to have so you can make comparisons with Wilson’s new mixes of the album.

Although there are no audio options here by default it comes with an audio quality of LPCM 24/192K. Though once again you can use your Blu Ray Player Remote to play it in a LPCM 24/94K audio format instead of the 24/192K.

Though 192K is the much higher quality of the audio options here, the fact that it’s in LPCM is not quite the same quality that one would get with a 24/192K SACD. Simply because neither DVD or Blu Ray support DSD like the SACD disc does.

In my own personal opinion the way the SACD processes the sound using DSD it can bring out all the higher frequencies that are inaudible to the human ear and make better use of them than LPCM could ever do. This is why my preferred and favourite media as always been the SACD and why I support it so much.

But I cannot complain because even these audio formats are staggering high end audio and will make all audiophiles like myself very happy indeed :))))))))))))))))))).

By going back to the main menu and clicking on the final option of the 3 there, you will be presented with the following screen.

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This brings you to the “Additional Material” section that covers all the bonus tracks that are on the Blu Ray disc and also you can get to the “Vinyl Drop” of the original UK album.

Once again these come in high end audio formats of 24/96K and I will discuss just what you get here in my next part of the review which features all the bonus material.

On a special note. Please excuse my wonky pictures I took on my mobile phone. It was very hard to stand up straight to get a good straight shot of the menus on the TV as I have a bad leg. Well that’s my excuse anyway :)))))))))))))).

The Bonus Tracks…

The 2 bonus tracks on the CD are the 2013 Steve Wilson mix of the 10 minute 31 second Paul Simon song “America” and “Close To The Edge (Early Assembly/Rough Mix)” to which is some 17 minutes and 42 seconds. None of these featured on the 2003 Rhino CD release but it did have “America” but only the single edit version. The Blu Ray also includes all these tracks, plus the other 3 tracks that featured on the 2003 Rhino CD release and more besides.

The Blue Ray features an “Alternative Album” version of the album made up of the following tracks:

Close To The Edge (Early Assembly/Rough Mix) 17:42.
And You And I (Alternative Version) 10:18.
Siberia (Studio run-through of Siberian Khatru) 9:20.

Both And You And I (Alternative Version) and Siberia (Studio run-through of Siberian Khatru) featured on the 2003 Rhino CD release only here they also come in 24/96K Audio.

Next up is the “America Versions” Basically this is the same 10 minute 31 second song 3 times over with different mixes and audio formats.

My favourite here is Wilson’s 5.1 Mix of the song. It’s very rare any bonus track comes with a 5.1 mix and he’s actually done two of them here which are exactly the same as he done with the album tracks. An LPCM 24/96K and a DTS HD Master audio track at 24/48K. So he must of been like myself and really loved this version of Yes doing the Paul Simon song. It also sounds purely amazing too.

The other 2 versions are the Stereo version of the 2013 Wilson mix at 24/96K LPCM and a Flat Transfer of the original version that comes in the form of an LPCM 24/192K mix. He really has gone to town on these mixes I must say. So far all the bonus tracks here are super additions including the other versions of the original album tracks.

Has I have already mentioned that the “Vinyl Drop” of the album is in this section all is left is the “The Single Edits” section. Though these also come with an high quality LPCM 24/192K mix. This I have to say is perhaps the boring section. Actually when I read what was in here that comes with this high end quality I totally laughed my head off (LOL)

OK here we go and I am saving the best till last for a good laugh :))))))))

Basically in this section are 4 single edits. The 1st of them is “Total Mass Retain” which is a 3:21 edited version from “Close To The Edge“. The 4th track in here is the single 4:13 version of “America“. Both of these tracks also featured on the 2003 Rhino CD release. Track 2 is a 3:29 edited promo stereo version of “And You And I (Part 1)”. Last of all and track 3 in this section is exactly the same 3:29 edited promo version of “And You And I (Part 1)”. Only it’s in Mono (LOL) Honestly here’s myself a complete converted “Surround Freak” and they’re chucking Mono at me in this day and age (LOL)

Like I have said before in my previous reviews that these short edited versions of the original songs are all really pointless. To be honest I myself will not even bother playing them simply because I prefer the whole thing not a snippet of it. They was very much done for the purpose of radio play, and if any radio station played them in all honesty I would be pretty well  disappointed and most likely switched the damn thing off :)))))))).

Musicians & Credits…

The original album was produced by Yes & Eddie Oddford at the Advision Studios. London. Engineered by Eddie Oddford. Tapes Mike Dunn. Co-ordinator Brian Lane. Sleeve drawings, photographs, linear motes and logo by Roger Dean. Additional photography by Martin Adelman.

Jon Anderson: Lead Vocals.
Chris Squire: Bass Guitars/Backing Vocals.
Steve Howe: Guitars/Backing Vocals.
Rick Wakeman: Keyboards.
Bill Bruford: Drums/Percussion.

The Album Close To The Edge Review…

The album Close To The Edge took a good 6 months to make and was recorded between February to July and was released in the UK a couple of months later on the 13th September 1972. During the tour of the album between 1972 and 1973 the album gained more commercial success reaching No.3 in the United States and No4. in the UK’s album charts. It reached No.1 in the Netherlands selling over 450,000 copies. It sold more than 500.000 copies in America and went Gold. The album also continued to sell very well and by 1998 it had sold over 1 million copies and was certified Platinum.

Despite all the tension bickering, loggerheads and stress that was built up in the studios at the time with the band members, the 3 tracks that made up the album Close To The Edge were as solid as they could of been. The very fact that this album never had any break points and consisted of 3 pieces of Yes Music without a doubt made it the band’s strongest album to date at this stage of their career. The album never had no corners either but it had 3 very strong pillars that I considered as more of a triangle of strength.

Personally even though the material still has exactly the same style has their 2 previous albums. I think the album benefited more for not having any break points and they solely concentrated on the band tracks only. It was certainly one of their most complexed album’s to make, and I would even today call it the best album Yes ever made.

Track 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)

Yes Music was getting bigger and expanding into symphonies built around futuristic realms and scriptures from the bible. For the band Yes music simply had no rules and they broke all of its boundaries and barriers and carved and sculptured out an 18 minute 41 second masterpiece. The work rate that Steve Howe put into writing this song with Jon Anderson is purely phenomenal. Howe’s work rate on the stage playing the song is purely phenomenal as well. I do not think there is a place on the whole of the guitars fret board his fingers are not flying across, or was not touched.

The very first time I ever seen Yes live they opened a 2 hour show with this song. By the time they got to the end of the song I thought I had my money’s worth of the price of ticket there and then. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen in my life. I can still to this day picture all the little bird and leaf like shapes they projected all over the arenas ceiling as it opened up with the birds chirping away.

The opening of Close To The Edge is very much and environmental recording on a looped tape they use for the intro, middle and end sections of the song. The sounds of nature with the birds, a river of rushing water and water droplets were captured out on location and they mixed in a bit of keyboards to add to the build up of it all especially in the intro for the song. Anderson claimed that he was inspired by the Wendy Carlos album Sonic Seasonings which was released in the same year.

The intro lasts for all of 55 seconds then in comes the band at quite a speedy pace with the bass, drums, guitars followed by flying keys across the keyboard. The whole thing is one mad frenzy and 1st subheading of the song entitled “The Solid Time of Change” with Howe churning out notes from his guitar along short spasms of melody lines played at a blistering pace. Then 1 minute and 4 seconds later you get to hear the first note coming from Anderson’s voice as he oozes out one single “ah”.

The frenzy continues and we get another “single “ah” followed by a longer “aaaah” and Howe’s guitar gets faster and faster, and I am sure his fingers are going to catch fire and his strings will melt playing at this blistering pace, even Squire’s bass and Wakeman’s keyboard are approaching the 100 mph mark and Bruford’s rolls and fills are hotter than the ones cooking in an oven at a bakery. He’s doing a purely fantastic job playing in this section and I honestly do not know how his mind works to be able to even think out how on earth to play to the frenzy that’s going on here. No wonder he said it was hard work and he’s not joking either.

Though most of this opening section was as jam, the fact that Anderson picked up some advice about time signatures from the Mahavishnu Orchestra who they had previously been on tour with, led Howe to listening and liking  to his ideas. There was no doubt that even at this stage Anderson was very much an amateur musician, but he really had some great ideas. Most of the band laughed them off half the time, but Howe always listened and tried to make what Anderson wanted in the first place out of the music.   .

Then around the 2:50 mark one roll from Bruford’s kit brings the frenzy to a short millisecond of an halt and a few seconds later Anderson comes out with “dah, da, dah” and at the 2:58 mark all of 8 seconds later Howe brings in the main theme played from the notes on his guitar and it really is a joy to hear. A change of guitar to his Choral Sitar at 3:55 for the rhythm section allowing Anderson to come in nicely with the first verse of the song and all very well supported by the whole band. This section is the “Total Mass Retain” and was one of Howe’s original ideas he had written for another song from some years back and threw his idea over to Anderson who felt it fitted in perfectly with what he wanted.

The song develops along very well with its verse and chorus sections. Though Anderson was inspired to write the lyrics around Siddhartha a 1922 novel by Hermann Hesse Howe also helped out with a lot of the lyrics to the song. This then runs up to the 8:29 mark and runs into the 3rd subheading “I Get Up, I Get Down” This is another section of the song Howe mainly wrote both the music and the lyrics too.

Regarding the songs title “Close To The Edge” and it’s words “Close to the edge, down by a river”  it came from an inspiration Howe had got from living at his home in Battersea next to the River Thames. He also wrote all the music in this section originally on his guitar. He decided that it never sounded right on the guitar on the latter parts of this section, so he threw it over to Rick Wakeman to play his music on the pipe organ. Wakeman decided to use the church in St Giles-without-Cripplegate in the Barbican complex in London to record the piece on the pipe organ there.

Wakeman does a stunning job in this section on the pipe organ and it gets tailed off with the pipe organ at the 14:14 mark and leads into the final and 4th subheading entitled ” Seasons of Man” most likely another inspiration that Anderson got from the Wendy Carlos album judging by the title here. Once again Wakeman is involved in the action to which involves more work on his keyboards and some excellent solo’s on the hammond organ before the songs falls back into its verse and final chorus section. It really is a powerful section and it all ends off where it all started with the sound of the birds chirping away wonderfully.

Close To The Edge was a massive piece of work to take on, in many ways I find it quite hard how any drummer could really play along to it. It changes time signatures like nobody’s business and is my personal favourite track of the album. The track maybe just under the 19 minute mark but it’s that exciting and such a pleasure to listen to that it all seems to be over in under 10 minutes. It’s musical structure is purely breathing with all the changes it goes through and no doubt is one of the band’s epic masterpieces.

Track 2. And You And I (I. Cord of Life/II. Eclipse/III.  The Preacher, the Teacher/IV. The Apocalypse)

Jon Anderson was always trying to encourage the other band members to get involved with the writing, it’s very much a thing that even Bill Bruford was grateful for later on long after he left Yes. The fact that Steve Howe listened the most to Anderson’s ideas and did not mind Anderson picking up a guitar now and then, is very much how this particular song came together.

It was down to Anderson strumming along on his acoustic guitar a folksy tune and singing along to it that caught Howe’s attention to use it and develop it more. Basically what Anderson was playing was one of the themes in the opening section of the song, and has Howe further developed it both Squire and Bruford showed more interest and contributed a few ideas of their own to the writing of the song too.

And You And I is more of the album’s ballad side where Anderson’s voice really gets the chance to shine in the song. It’s got a lot of great chord progression and changes along its path as it goes through the 4 movements to which once again they have given 4 subheadings to. Though Wakeman never contributed to the writing, his keyboard work on the song is really superb with the choice of sounds in particular he chose to use for it. Anderson wrote the lyrics and there is no doubt that the lyrical content is based around the bible to which he drew most of his ideas from for it.

Track 3. Siberian Khatru

Siberian Katru was the only partial song that was brought into the studio. Once again it was a piece that Anderson had played on his acoustic guitar and recorded it at his home. Though the song was far from complete or really structured properly both Howe and Wakeman took it on to help Anderson out to develop it into what it ended up as.

They basically sat down and discussed the riffs for various sections throughout the song, and the funny thing is that it was actually Wakeman who wrote the more raunchier rocky riffs and not Howe. In a way Wakeman paid Howe back for the “I Get Up, I Get Down” section of Close To The Edge that Howe wrote and threw over for Wakeman to play on the pipe organ.

Once again Anderson took on the lyrics for the song and there is no doubt the subject matter has no real meaning at all. At the time he was looking into Yemen and found the word Khatru interesting. He never had any idea what it actually meant at the time, and only later found out that it translated to “as you wish”. I have to say even though this set of lyrics are totally meaningless, they are well fascinating and work superbly in the song.

It’s a very powerful way to end of one magical album. It was also a very powerful song played live too and even worked very well as the first song to kick off the Yessongs album with, to which they played it at a blistering pace and a lot faster than this studio version of the song.

Lee’s Triangle Theory.

Because the album had no corners and only 3 tracks. I have always seen the number 3 as a triangular number and as a triangle has 3 points they are the 3 pillars of strength that make up the tower of strength that fluctuates it’s energy.  The album’s self titled track was without doubt its strongest point that stood on the top of a triangle directing it’s energy into the other 2 tracks giving them in many ways equal strength. There was no doubt that this one solid album and none of its points are weak.

Yes Triangle 1

A Tower Of Strength.

The strongest point at the top needs some heavy support especially as this is the biggest and longest track on the album. The other 2 tracks half its size are strong enough to support it, and the whole tower of strength is one solid mass of energy. It’s total mass is retained throughout its entirety.

The 5.1 Mix…

Has I said earlier there is no doubt Steven Wilson has gone to town on this release in the definitive series and done a superb job with the 5,1 mix placing instruments in places throughout the 6 channels without taking anything away from how the original album sounded. It’s not always an easy task to do what he has done without using reflections of the instruments to back up the stereo field and keep it intact.

The very fact that instruments can be placed in certain places will result not only in the clarity of mix, but also how the instrument projects more lifelike with what you are hearing. For example I have even noticed in some parts he has placed Chris Squire’s bass in the centre speaker. The centre speaker is often used for dialogue in films and the main singers vocals in music.

In some cases especially down to the mix in many films the dialogue cannot be heard properly and the centre speaker can often be defined as the weakest speaker. To get around this problem many surround amps have a special EQ button you can simply hit, or you can simply adjust the volume level of the centre speaker. Both are good remedies in these situations.

For music it always pays to have a good quality centre speaker especially because most of them do no house the same drive speakers you are going to find in your normal loudspeakers for the front and rear. They are also good to have so that the bass management of how the subwoofer will drive all the bass speakers throughout your entire system can project bass.

To be able to project the bass into the centre speaker and make it sound as good as it can project out of any of the other loudspeakers takes quite a bit of sonically modifying the frequency by EQ in the mix and I have to say Wilson has done a bang on job of it, and Squire’s bass even sounds so realistic in the centre speaker too.

I love what he has done with the come down section of Close To The Edge. The atmosphere is very 3D or even 4D like it’s just purely fantastic being totally surrounded by it all. Hearing those little droplets of water and all that. I know you can hear them in conventional stereo, but trust me you will never hear them like this unless you have at least a 6 channel surround system.

Also in the section I love how he has placed Wakeman’s pipe organ in the rear speakers. The sound of the organ and even the bass it projects from the thing is literally like sitting next to him in the church whilst he playing the thing. He’s done a totally stunning staggering job of it. Honestly I could not stop the tears coming from my eyes throughout the whole section. It’s the most amazing experience I have ever had of hearing this album in my life.

To be perfectly honest regarding this 5.1 mix here. I have plenty of other albums and live concerts in 5.1 that will no doubt blow this away if you want to hear how effectively everything can project by being panned around the 6 channels.

But I give 100% to Wilson here simply because he has managed to keep all the original album’s characteristics intact. Somehow with what he has done here, is that he has managed to bring out all the dynamics that you could never hear before in the first place, and totally enhanced the album sonically without losing an ounce of the album’s detail.

Summary Of The Close To The Edge Album…

There is no doubt that Yes broke the mould when they made this album. The original album contained 3 tracks and had a playing time of just under 38 minutes. The fact that they made this album in the way they did with just 3 tracks on it brought in many more fans with the successful tour that followed it. The idea of making longer songs seemed to make the fans want a lot more of them, and no doubt the band was not going to disappoint them by continuing to do so.

Yes Music was on the rise just as their drummer had departed at one of the most successful highs of their career in the 70’s. Though Bill Bruford did promise he would play at the live shows until the end of the year. Steve Howe wished him to leave sooner due to his lack of commitment, a decision even Howe regretted  later has he would of loved to have heard him play the songs from the album in that year.

His replacement was drummer Alan White who had been playing on and off for John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band since 1969 when he was invited by Lennon to play on his Live Peace in Toronto tour  in the same year in Canada which also featured Eric Clapton on guitar. White even played the drums on Lennon’s biggest hit “Imagine” in 1971. He played mainly as a session player before joining Yes in 1972 and even played for George Harrison and many more during his time and after joining Yes.

Alan White joined Yes in the latter part of the July 1972. He only had 3 days to learn all the material and only had one full rehearsal with the band when they embarked on a 95 show tour that started in America on the 30th July 1972. They also toured Canada.UK. Japan and the tour ended in Australia in April 1973. In the same year the triple live album Yessongs was compiled out of the shows between February to December of 1972. Only 2 of the tracks on the album featured Bruford on drums from those earlier shows in February, the rest of the tracks were all played by White.

Yessongs was released on the 18th May 1973. It was originally meant to be released in the February of the same year whilst the band was on tour in North America. But the printers had a problem with printing out the album which led to the delay. It went Gold in the United States in the same year and in 1998 was certified Platinum in the same country. By 1976 it went Gold in Canada and Gold in Germany in 1979. Has for their English fans I must of been the only one (LOL)

It was not until 1989 when Bruford joined back up with his old colleagues Anderson. Wakeman and Howe to play an Evening Of Yes Music under their own names as they were not allowed to use the band’s name at the time, that Bruford got to play 2 of the tracks live from the album.

Conclusion…

There is no doubt that Steve Wilson has done an outstanding job of presenting the album Close To The Edge to you in the best way it’s ever been heard. The fact that he so successfully done it in the way that it neither adds or takes nothing away from the original album and has purely enhanced the sound there is no doubt that sonically it’s the best recording ever been done of it.

Amazingly even all the 24/192K Original Stereo Transfers of the album in these editions sound way better than the vinyl album as well, and as for the 5.1 mix well that’s another story and one that will literally blow your mind.

For me personally all the music Yes made between 1971 and 1972 is my favourite era of the band’s output of Yes Music. There is no doubt that if I was to choose 4 of my all time favourite albums by 4 different artists to place 1 on each of the 4 corners of the universe. Yes would occupy one of those corners. But my biggest problem is choosing one single album out of the 3 they made between those years. It would have to have all the band tracks without the break points that I call Yes Music from all 3 of those albums to make it up. I simply could not choose the album Close To The Edge alone, even if it his most likely my favourite album. Simply because they made some truly amazing songs on all 3 of those album’s.

There is no doubt that after they made Close To The Edge. Yes continued to progress forward and experiment even more so, and continued to make great Yes Music over the next 2 albums that was to follow. But for some, the pressures, stress and tension got to them as well. Next up for a full detailed review will be “Definitive Edition” of Tales From The Topographic Oceans where Yes enter into new realms with their music, that was very much inspired by the making of Close To The Edge.

The Total Mass Has Been Retained!.

The CD track listing is as follows:

01. 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). 18:41.

02. And You And I (I. Cord of Life/II. Eclipse/III.  The Preacher, the Teacher/IV. The Apocalypse). 10:11.

03. Siberian Khatru. 9:11.
04. America. 10:43.
05. Close to the Edge (Early Assembly/Rough Mix). 17:42.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 7/10

The Bonus Tracks Rating Score. 7/10

The 5.1 Mix Rating Score. 10/10.

The Original Album Rating Score. 10/10.

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3 thoughts on “Lee Speaks About Music… #13

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