This is one of the peaks of Progressive Rock in the early to mid 1970s. Yes were on a mission to transform the musical world as they saw it. Released in 1972, this is a genuinely great listen, so let’s check it out. It was seen as an era defining release and a classic in its own right.
The main piece kicks off with 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. As you can tell, it is an extended four piece part. It begins with rushing water and birds chirping, which really sounds amazing and superb. A spine tingling keyboard sound then seeps in, before the rest of the band kick in with some awesome melodies. It is a great and uplifting piece, with some well placed guitar parts and the keyboard melodies repeating. In between musical breaks are recorded harmonies by the singer Jon Anderson. It is a great start to a progressive rock epic. It goes into a melodic and well performed piece with the band playing their chops wonderfully. The electric guitar playing in particular is brilliant. It then goes into song based territory, showing Yes at their peak. Steve Howe’s electric guitar lines are really fantastic here, blowing all the punk bands later on in the decade out of the water. Jon Anderson sings about some rather intellectual and surreal topics. The song section of this track is so well done that it makes you want to disregard all the music before and after it, it is an intelligent and well structured piece. Lyrics about changing seasons and such are here. Once the main song section finishes, we go into an ethereal midsection which is really excellent, and daresay it, emotional. It’s rare to find a band who has recorded something as beautiful and wonderful as this piece. It shows Rick Wakeman at his creative best. The singing resumes, being very low key and well structured. Jon Anderson repeatedly sings, “I get up, I get down,” which is reassuring and emotional in its intention. The song surges into a glorious organ led part, which sounds interesting, unusual and a little eerie. Before long, the rest of the band kicks back in, with a repeated guitar riff. It goes back into the main song with the rest of the band playing along. The last part of the song is more typical Yes territory, and as we reach towards the end of the 18 minute piece, we have the legendary band cementing their status. It finishes with a wonderful climax and the whole band puts in 100% for their efforts. It ends with the ethereal water sounds and birds chirping. Great piece.
Following is And You And I: i. Cord Of Life ii. Eclipse iii. The Preacher The Teacher iv. Apocalypse which starts with Steve Howe tuning his 12 string acoustic guitar besides some keyboard melodies. He then plays an awesome and memorable melody on that guitar, which sounds interesting and emotional. The bass then kicks in, and the band begin playing a beautiful and melodic tune. It is a joyful and uplifting piece to hear, and all in all is another great piece on this album. Some super surreal lyrics are here, which are delivered with a great deal of intellect. It then goes into the next section, which is out of this world. Some super good slide guitar and keyboard parts are here, which is great to listen to. It’s not a rough three chord jam like what lesser bands would do, this is interesting and intellectual music that sounds just as great today as it did upon release. Jon Anderson sings wonderfully here, with his awesome voice. The rest of the band goes quiet once again for the 12 string acoustic melody to return and play its part in the track. It then goes back into optimistic and wonderfully positive territory, which is beautiful and brilliant. The piece plays out in an awesome way, with the band sounding like they are on a world conquering mission, especially lyrically. The outro is awesome and surreal, with many different sound effects going on, before the strummed 12 string and singing grab your attention and warm your heart. Another great piece by Yes.
Siberian Khatru begins with a cool guitar riff before going into an organ and guitar driven piece. It’s a good way to go from the start, sounding unique and interesting. The main riff of the song is really infectious, and Jon Anderson’s singing is top notch. It blows away much of what came before and after here. There are some well played guitar parts and harmonics, before launching back into a more song based section. There are chanted lyrics throughout, which makes it more song based and catchy than the rest of the album. There is a part with some electric sitar and harpsichord, before a screaming slide guitar solo takes you to a better place. A key change then occurs, and singing about the outspoken Siberian Khatru is here. It then goes back into the main riff and section of the song. The chanted lyrics and some super strummed acoustic guitar and drumrolls occur, leading into the suspense of it. Towards the end, we go into a more straightforward Yes jam which is rewarding and good listening. A twist towards the end is here, with cut up vocal chanting and some awesome melodies emerge for your listening pleasure. All in all, a brilliant piece and a great way to finish the album.
This is one of the greatest albums of all time, and certainly has attracted many fans, both new and old to Yes. If you want more progressive rock other than Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon, this is a great place to start. Beautiful, intelligent and timeless.