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Yes

Close to the Edge – Remastered and Expanded

Review by Gary Hill

I absolutely love Yes’ Close to the Edge and I’ve reviewed the main album before. I’ll leave it to that one to get into a lot of the finer nuances, but I will say that this remastering really feels a lot more like I remember the old vinyl sounding. The bonus tracks here are mostly for an archival value and the sense of having “everything Yes,” but the main tracks sound so good here and the album sleeve based on the old LP make this worth having for sure. Also, for the sake of consistency it should be noted that where I’ve reviewed these tracks before I’ve used those reviews.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Close to the Edge
This one starts slowly with the simulated sounds of birds and water gradually building and swirling courtesy of Rick Wakeman's keyboards. As this crescendos, the band comes in with a frantic and chaotic series of counterpoints dancing circles around one another. The result is somewhat hard to take at first, but really does feel a bit like a harder edged take on something from Fragile. As this carries forward, it is punctuated at a couple points by non-lyrical vocals. Eventually all this resolves down to a more melodic verse segment taking the song to its next movement. The cut runs quite a while working through and reinventing several musical and vocal themes. Eventually it drops to an atmospheric section and gradually begins a building process from there. This segment is highlighted by sort of a vocal duel between Anderson and Squire. The lines the two sing don't seem really related to one another, but almost as if both are singing two different, but complimentary songs. As this movement peaks, Wakeman takes over once more. He switches to synthesizer to re-energize the cut and move it to the next fast paced segment. This section moves and evolves, eventually returning to a chorus of "I Get Up/I Get Down" which is a reprise from earlier points in the composition. That chorus moves the piece to the dramatic resolution followed by Wakeman's keys in similar tones to the intro serving as bookends to the epic.
And You And I
This one begins tentatively with Howe on Acoustic guitar. As the piece begins to take on a bit of melody, it rather quickly turns a corner as the rest of the band begins to join the maestro. This takes the form of a rather folky sort of acoustic guitar laden ballad, but the arrangement adds a fairly quirky progressive rock element. Eventually it moves out to a new melody, driven heavily by Chris Squire's bass. This is short lived, though, then a brief chord moves it to a slow moving, but highly expansive segment that feels very joyous and spiritual. After a time this moves to a crescendo, then How takes over on the acoustic guitar again, eventually heralding another folky segment. Eventually this moves to another groove oriented section that moves quite well. This is probably one of the most organic prog rock tunes of all time, each segment feeling like it flows naturally from the one before. It is a very powerful and uplifting number. It ends with a brief and airy chorus based on acoustic guitar, vocals and gentle keys.
Siberian Khatru
In contrast to the fairly gentle textures of "And You And I", Steve Howe screams out the intro to this one, foreshadowing it as a frantic and hard rocking Yes jam. There aren't a lot of wholesale changes here, but each member of the band works towards smaller change ups, adding a vitality and freshness as the cut moves on. This has always been a personal favorite of mine, and Howe contributes some of his most frantic and high energy guitar work of any Yes song.
America (Single version)
I believe this is the same version that was released on the Yesyears box set – and I reviewed on that set. So, I’m going to use the track review from that article. Yes' cover of Paul Simon's piece, this one feels more like older Yes in many ways, seeming like it might have felt quite at home on one of the Banks era albums. It is a solid reworking of the song, and the group finds plenty of opportunities to shine here.
Total Mass Retain (Single version)
This is unusual and quite different. It’s the starts with a little chimey sound and then we’re launched back into one movement of “Close to the Edge.”
And You and I (Alternate version)
This alternate take is a little bit longer than the album that made it onto the album. It starts off in quite familiar territory. Anderson’s vocals are less produced on this. It sounds like he might have been fighting a cold when they recorded this. Much of the musical arrangement here is rough, too. I just seems to move from here and there with quick inserts. Each musical bit itself is OK, but the overall effect is of a rough demo work through. I’m sure that’s really what this is. The thing is, it does bring a different understanding of the musical themes and the work that goes into creating a masterpiece. I don’t think it will ever be a song that I listen to on a regular basis, but it’s quite intriguing and worth having. 
Siberia (Studio run-through of "Siberian Khatru")
As one might guess from the title this is a somewhat rough edit of the earlier cut. That said, the vocals probably take the biggest hit in terms of production. The music is pretty close to the main version. There are a few changes, but it’s nowhere near as major a difference as on the last piece.  There are some alternate lyrics on the build up section later in the track.
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