Yes – Close To The Edge (1972)

AllMusic Review: With 1971’s Fragile having left Yes poised quivering on the brink of what friend and foe acknowledged was the peak of the band’s achievement, Close to the Edge was never going to be an easy album to make. Drummer Bill Bruford was already shifting restlessly against Jon Anderson’s increasingly mystic/mystifying lyricism, while contemporary reports of the recording sessions depicted bandmate Rick Wakeman, too, as little more than an observer to the vast tapestry that Anderson, Steve Howe, and Chris Squire were creating. For it was vast. Close to the Edge comprised just three tracks, the epic “And You and I” and “Siberian Khatru,” plus a side-long title track that represented the musical, lyrical, and sonic culmination of all that Yes had worked toward over the past five years. Close to the Edge would make the Top Five on both sides of the Atlantic, dispatch Yes on the longest tour of their career so far and, if hindsight be the guide, launch the band on a downward swing that only disintegration, rebuilding, and a savage change of direction would cure. The latter, however, was still to come. In 1972, Close to the Edge was a flawless masterpiece. — Dave Thompson

Track Listing

Side one
No. Title Lyrics Music Length
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”
Jon Anderson, Steve Howe Anderson, Howe 18:40
Side two
No. Title Lyrics Music Length
1. “And You and I”

  • I. “Cord of Life”
  • II. “Eclipse”
  • III. “The Preacher, the Teacher”
  • IV. “The Apocalypse”
Anderson Anderson; themes by Bill Bruford, Howe (except “Eclipse”), Chris Squire 10:09
2. “Siberian Khatru” Anderson Anderson, Howe, Rick Wakeman 8:55

 

Schill Score:  4/10

 

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Yes – The Yes Album (1971)

Allmucis Review: On Yes’ first two albums, Yes (1969) and Time and a Word (1970), the quintet was mostly searching for a sound on which they could build, losing one of their original members — guitarist Peter Banks — in the process. Their third time out proved the charm — The Yes Album constituted a de facto second debut, introducing the sound that would carry them forward across the next decade or more. Gone are any covers of outside material, the group now working off of its own music from the ground up. A lot of the new material was actually simpler — in linear structure, at least — than some of what had appeared on their previous albums, but the internal dynamics of their playing had also altered radically, and much of the empty space that had been present in their earlier recordings was also filled up here — suddenly, between new member Steve Howe’s odd mix of country- and folk-based progressive guitar and the suddenly liberated bass work and drumming of Chris Squire and Bill Bruford, respectively, the group’s music became extremely busy. And lead singer Jon Anderson, supported by Squire and Howe, filled whatever was left almost to overflowing. Anderson’s soaring falsetto and the accompanying harmonies, attached to haunting melodies drawn from folk tunes as often as rock, applied to words seemingly derived from science fiction, and all delivered with the bravura of an operatic performance — by the band as well as the singer — proved a compelling mix. What’s more, despite the busy-ness of their new sound, the group wasn’t afraid to prove that less could sometimes be more: three of the high points were the acoustic-driven “Your Move” and “The Clap” (a superb showcase for Howe on solo acoustic guitar), and the relatively low-key “A Venture” (oddly enough, the latter was the one cut here that didn’t last in the group’s repertory; most of the rest, despite the competition from their subsequent work, remained in their concert set for years to come). The Yes Album did what it had to do, outselling the group’s first two long-players and making the group an established presence in America where, for the first time, they began getting regular exposure on FM radio. Sad to say, the only aspect of The Yes Album that didn’t last much longer was Tony Kaye on keyboards: his Hammond organ holds its own in the group’s newly energized sound, and is augmented by piano and other instruments when needed, but he resisted the idea of adding the Moog synthesizer, that hot instrument of the moment, to his repertory. The band was looking for a bolder sound than the Hammond could generate, and after some initial rehearsals of material that ended up on their next album, he was dropped from the lineup, to be replaced by Rick Wakeman.

Bruce Eder

Track Listing:

Side one[64]
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Yours Is No Disgrace” Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Tony Kaye, Bill Bruford 9:41
2. “Clap” (instrumental) Howe 3:17
3. “Starship Trooper”

  • a. “Life Seeker”
  • b. “Disillusion”
  • c. “Würm”
Anderson, Howe, Squire 9:29
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
4. “I’ve Seen All Good People”

  • a. “Your Move”
  • b. “All Good People”
Anderson, Squire 6:55
5. “A Venture” Anderson 3:20
6. “Perpetual Change” Anderson, Squire 8:57

 

 

Schill Score:  9/10

 

 

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Yes – Fragile (1971)

AllMusic Review: Fragile was Yes’ breakthrough album, propelling them in a matter of weeks from a cult act to an international phenomenon; not coincidentally, it also marked the point where all of the elements of the music (and more) that would define their success for more than a decade fell into place fully formed. The science-fiction and fantasy elements that had driven the more successful songs on their preceding record, The Yes Album, were pushed much harder here, and not just in the music but in the packaging of the album: the Roger Dean-designed cover was itself a fascinating creation that seemed to relate to the music and drew the purchaser’s attention in a manner that few records since the heyday of the psychedelic era could match. Having thrown original keyboard player Tony Kaye overboard early in the sessions — principally over his refusal to accept the need for the Moog synthesizer in lieu of his preferred Hammond organ — the band welcomed Rick Wakeman into its ranks. His use of the Moog, among other instruments, coupled with an overall bolder and more aggressive style of playing, opened the way for a harder, hotter sound by the group as a whole; bassist Chris Squire sounds like he’s got his amp turned up to “12,” and Steve Howe’s electric guitars are not far behind, although the group also displayed subtlety where it was needed. The opening minute of “Roundabout,” the album opener — and the basis for the edited single that would reach number 13 on the Billboard charts and get the group onto AM radio in a way that most other prog rock outfits could only look upon with envy — was dominated by Howe’s acoustic guitar and Bill Bruford’s drums, and only in the middle section did the band show some of what they could do with serious amperage. Elsewhere on the record, as on “South Side of the Sky,” they would sound as though they were ready to leave the ground (and the planet), between the volume and intensity of their playing. “Long Distance Runaround,” which also served as the B-side of the single, was probably the most accessible track here apart from “Roundabout,” but they were both ambitious enough to carry most listeners on to the heavier sides at the core of this long-player. The solo tracks by the members were actually a necessity: they needed to get Fragile out in a hurry to cover the cost of the keyboards that Wakeman had added to the group’s sonic arsenal. But they ended up being more than filler. Each member, in effect, took a “bow” in mostly fairly serious settings, and Squire’s “The Fish” and Howe’s “Mood for a Day” pointed directly to future, more substantial projects as well as taking on a life of their own on-stage. If not exactly their peak, Fragile was as perfect a record as the group would ever make, and just as flawless in its timing as its content. — Bruce Eder

Track Listing:

 

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Roundabout” Jon Anderson, Steve Howe 8:29
2. “Cans and Brahms” (instrumental) Johannes Brahms, Arranged by Rick Wakeman 1:35
3. “We Have Heaven” Anderson 1:30
4. “South Side of the Sky” Anderson, Chris Squire 8:04
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Five Per Cent for Nothing” (instrumental) Bill Bruford 0:35
2. “Long Distance Runaround” Anderson 3:33
3. “The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)” Squire 2:35
4. “Mood for a Day” (instrumental) Howe 3:57
5. “Heart of the Sunrise” Anderson, Squire, Bruford 10:34

 

 

Schill Score:  8.5/10

 

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