They’re no Mondays, but being the ever-feared “hump days,” Wednesdays certainly aren’t always easy to get through. I hear your cries and I’m here to answer them. To ease your pain, I’ve conjured up some tunes of yesteryear that always soothe me when I listen to them so hopefully they do the same for you. You may even learn an interesting tidbit or two.
For this “Hump-Day Helper” (god I love alliteration), I’ve decided not to delve into any area of metal but rather into the beginnings of progressive rock. More specifically, we’ll be taking a quick examination of a particular work from Yes. The fifth studio album, Close To The Edge, from the legendary British outfit has not only been heralded as their personal best but also has been considered as a zenith for progressive music in general. The album itself is only three tracks long but it takes us on an unforgettable and timeless journey of true musical bliss.
With “progressive metal/rock” continuously branching off the sub-genre tree, songs averaging over 10 minutes in length and being composed in less than traditional manners may seem commonplace to us now, but in 1972, it was a different story. Along with their experimental contemporaries in King Crimson and Pink Floyd, Yes would set the standard for progressive rock in this 1969-1972 era with Close To The Edge perhaps being the best representation of this standard.
Musically speaking, Yes brought it all to the table with Close To The Edge. Elements of jazz, classical, and psychedelia music culminated together to form this masterpiece. Passages of impressive technical prowess are often exchanged with transitional phases of beauty that round out an experience that is likely more moving than any other classic rock you can get your hands on. What is also truly extraordinary is that all elements of the band contribute immensely to this overall sound. Whether it be the jazz-infused drum rhythms (which were courtesy of Bill Bruford who would later join King Crimson after the recording of this album), the anthemic tones of the organ, the psychedelic/technical guitar riffs, or the heavenly nature of the vocals, every piece is crucial to this puzzle that Yes puts together. In terms of lyrical content, Close To The Edge was heavily inspired by Herman Hesse‘s novel Siddharta, whose main character experiences a spritiual awakening at a river. As a result, the lyrics mostly expand on thoughts of spirituality through metaphor: “Close to the edge. Down by the river.”
This perhaps sheds more light on the mystique of the artwork found on the inside of the album.
I could certainly go on forever about this album, but how about we let you experience it for yourself?! Since the album is only three tracks, I embedded the three tracks separately below (they go in order from top to bottom) so you can listen to them at your leisure. Enjoy.