Yes‘ classic fifth studio album, Close to the Edge, was released 50 years ago today, Tuesday.
A follow-up to the English prog-rock band’s popular 1971 album Fragile, Close to the Edge is Yes’ highest-charting entry on the Billboard 200, peaking at #3.
Close to the Edge features three long-form pieces, including the four-part, more than 18-minute title track, which took up the entire first side of the LP version.
An edited version of the second track, “And You and I,” was released as a single, reaching #42 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Making that album was a breakthrough for me completely … as a musician, as a sort of composer with [guitarist] Steve [Howe],” original Yes frontman Jon Anderson explains to ABC Audio, “’cause me and Steve, during the course of the Fragile tour … spent a lot of time sketching out the idea of ‘Close to the Edge.’ So when we got in the studio, everything was planned pretty well.”
Anderson also notes putting together “Close to the Edge” in the studio was an interesting process where the band members worked on multiple 3- to 5-minute segments as they built the epic song.
“At the end of it,” Jon recalls, “I couldn’t believe how extraordinary it was to edit it all together, and sit back after a month of creativity … and listen to it and go … ‘It’s so beautiful. It’s so good. Wow.'”
Close to the Edge was the last 1970s Yes studio album to feature founding drummer Bill Bruford, who left the band to join King Crimson. He was replaced by Alan White.
Close to the Edge is ranked #5 on Rolling Stone‘s 2015 list of the “50 Greatest Prog-Rock Albums of All Time.”
Here’s the track list:
“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”
“And You and I”
–I. “Cord of Life”
–III. “The Preacher, the Teacher”
–IV. “The Apocalypse”
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