Happy 45th: Yes, CLOSE TO THE EDGE
45 years ago today, Yes released their fifth studio album, an effort which proved to be their most commercially-successful LP up to that point in their career.
Recorded at Advision Studios in London, CLOSE TO THE EDGE was – like THE YES ALBUM and FRAGILE before it – co-produced by the band and Eddie Offord, who’d also been keeping busy by engineering albums for Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Offord’s goal was to capture the brilliance of the band’s best live performances within a studio setting, going so far as to have Yes’s road crew construct a stage in the studio on which the band would play.
Journalist Chris Welch visited the studio while Yes was recording CLOSE TO THE EDGE, and what he witnessed was a band in turmoil, with Jon Anderson and Steve Howe having a vision for the direction of the album, while Rick Wakeman and Bill Bruford were – in Welch’s estimation – “innocent bystanders” in the process. In fact, the album’s title was contributed by Bruford, who acknowledged in his autobiography that it reflected the state of the band at the time. (It certainly reflected Bruford’s state: by the time the band entered the studio to record their next album, he had decamped to join King Crimson.)
When CLOSE TO THE EDGE was initially released, the reaction from Yes fans was – as noted above – shown in the album’s tremendous sales figures, but it would be fair to say that the critics’ reviews were not 100% adulation. With that said, however, time has been very, very kind to CLOSE TO THE EDGE, and after critical reappraisal of the album, it’s been deemed one of Yes’s finest efforts, with Dave Thompson describing it on AllMusic.com as a “flawless masterpiece.” As such, it should come as decidedly less of a surprise that it can be found within the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
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