Close to the Edge is the fifth studio album from the English progressive rock band Yes, released on 13 September 1972 on Atlantic Records. Following the commercial and critical success with their 1971 album, Fragile, the album saw Yes produce extended pieces which resulted in the 18-minute title track.

Close to the Edge was released three months into its supporting tour. The album was a commercial and critical success for the band; it peaked at number 3 in the US and number 4 in the UK. The album is certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling over one million copies.


 [hide*1 Background


In November 1971, Yes's fourth studio album Fragile was released to their greatest commercial and critical success since their formation. After six months of touring to support the album came to an end in March 1972, the band started work on their next record. The line-up during this time was singer Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, drummer Bill Bruford, guitarist Steve Howe, and keyboardist Rick Wakeman.


Following rehearsals at the Una Billings School of Dance in Shepherd's Bush, the band returned to Advision Studios on Gosfield Street to record their next album.[1] Music journalist and author Chris Welch reported that tracks were being put down for the album as early as 1 February 1972.[2] They were joined by audio engineer Eddy Offord, who had worked with the band since 1970 and served as their sound mixer on tour. Production duties were shared between the two parties.

When it came to record Close to the Edge, Offord made the road crew "build a huge stage in the studio" to make the album sound "more live".[3]

According to Bruford, he came up with the album's title to describe the state of the band at the time, as he had with Fragile. Bruford recalled "a cheap black velour settee at the back of the control room" where he slept one night as Squire was "poring over a couple of knobs on the desk, and jerking awake a couple of hours later to find him in the same place, still considering the relative position of the two knobs".[4]

In one incident, after the band decided to use a particular edit of a track, the group found out the studio's cleaner put a piece of tape in the rubbish. Following a "desperate hunt for the missing section" in the bins outside, the piece was found.[4]


"Close to the Edge"[edit]Edit

Side one of the album is taken up by the title track, with Anderson and Howe sharing composition and lyrical credits. With a running time of 18 minutes and 43 seconds, it was the longest song the band had recorded at the time. The track was assembled in pieces throughout, as Bruford described, "in ten, twelve, sixteen-bar sections".[1] Anderson based its theme and lyrics from reading Siddhartha by German novelist Hermann Hesse. Reflecting on the song's lyrical content in 1976, Anderson noted the concluding verse is dream that he had "a long time ago about passing on from this world to another world, yet feeling so fantastic about it that death never frightened me ever since".[5] Wakeman's organ solo was originally a section written by Howe for the guitar, but he thought it sounded better on the organ.[5]

"And You and I"[edit]Edit

"And You and I" was written by Anderson, Howe, Bruford, and Squire. The spiritual influences introduced by Jon Anderson, are already evident in the music and lyrics of all three tracks on Close to the Edge. Renewal and repetition are other main themes; the title track starts and finishes with the same sound effects of running water and birds, and in "Siberian Khatru" there is the repetition of two-syllable words and phrases.

"Siberian Khatru"[edit]Edit

"Siberian Khatru" is the only track where Wakeman receives a writing credit. Anderson described the track as "just a lot of interesting words, though it does relate to the dreams of clear summer days".[6]

Sleeve design[edit]Edit

[1][2]The album marked the first use of the band's "bubble" logo designed by Roger Dean.

The album's sleeve was designed and illustrated by English artist Roger Dean, who had also designed the cover for Fragile. It marks the first use of the Yes "bubble" logo. Some of the photography used was shot by Martyn Adelman who had played in The Syn with Squire.

On reflection of the design, Dean said: "There were a couple of ideas that merged there. It was of a waterfall constantly refreshing itself, pouring from all sides of the lake, but where was the water coming from? I was looking for an image to portray that".[7]


Close to the Edge was released three months into its supporting tour on 13 September 1972. It became the band's best performing album in the charts, where it peaked at number 3 in the US and number 4 in the UK.[8][9] "And You and I" was split into two tracks and released as a single titled "And You and I (Part I & II)" that peaked at number 42 on the US Hot 100 singles chart.[10] The album is certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling over one million copies.

A promotion-only version of the LP was distributed to US radio stations that featured the title track split into shorter segments. This was done to increase radio exposure as most radio stations did not want to air an 18-minute song. Most of the segments were in the range of 3 to 5 minutes and all were marked on the record to assist disc jockeys.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic [11]
Pitchfork (9.0/10)[12]
Robert Christgau C+[13]
Rolling Stone (1972) (favorable)[14]
The Rolling Stone Record Guide [15]
Sputnik Music [16]

Upon its release, Close to the Edge received favourable reviews among critics. In a positive review, Billboard selected the album in its weekly "Billboard Pick" feature, noting that Yes had "progressed to the point where they are light years beyond their emulators, proving to be no mere flash in the pan. The sound tapestries they weave are dainty fragments, glimpses of destinies yet to be formed, times that fade like dew drops in the blurriness of desires half-remembered. All involved deserve praise and thanks, this being not a mere audio experience, transcending the medium it brings all senses into play."[17]

In a special edition of Q and Mojo magazines published in 2005, Close to the Edge came in at number 3 in its list of "40 Cosmic Rock Albums".[18] The record is also listed in the musical reference publication 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery. In a reader's choice list of the "100 Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time" for Guitar World, the album came in at number 67. In his review for AllMusic, Dave Thompson writes:

Close to the Edge would make the Top Five on both sides of the Atlantic, dispatch Yes on the longest tour of its career so far and, if hindsight be the guide, launch the band on a downward swing that only disintegration, rebuilding, and a savage change of direction would cure. The latter, however, was still to come. In 1972, Close to the Edge was a flawless masterpiece."[11]


In 1987, Close to the Edge was reissued by Atlantic Records on CD in the United States[nb 1] and Europe.[nb 2] The album was digitally remastered for CD by Joe Gastwirt in 1994.[nb 3] 2003 saw the album reissued on CD in a "expanded and remastered" edition by Rhino and Elektra Records that contains four previously unreleased tracks: the single version of the band's cover of "America", a single version of "Total Mass Retain", an alternate version of "And You and I", and a studio run-through performance of "Siberian Khatru".[nb 4]

In 2013, two new remasters of the album were released. Steve Hoffman of Audio Fidelity Records conducted a remastering in both CD and Super Audio CD formats.[nb 5] For the Panegyric label, Steven Wilson used the original multi-track recordings to produce a "2013 stereo mix", a 5.1 surround sound mix, and an "original stereo mix" from a flat transfer of the LP, in both a CD and DVD-Audio and CD and Blu-Ray disc package. Bonus tracks include single edits, an early rough mix of "Close to the Edge", and instrumental versions of the album's three tracks.[nb 6]

Bruford's departure and tour[edit]Edit

Further information: Close to the Edge Tour

Once recording for the album was complete, Bruford left the band on 19 July 1972 to join King Crimson. His replacement was Alan White of the Plastic Ono Band and part of Terry Reid's group. As he played on Close to the Edge but left before the subsequent tour, Bruford was contractually obliged to share album royalties with White, and claims that Yes manager Brian Lane enforced a compensation payment of $10,000 from him.[19] White had one full rehearsal with the band before the tour, which saw the band play a total of 95 concerts in the US, Canada, the UK, Japan and Australia.[20]

Sales chart performance[edit]Edit

Year Chart Position
1972 United States 3[8]
United Kingdom 4[9]
Netherlands 1[21]


Organization Level Date
RIAA (US) Gold 30 October 1972
RIAA (US) Platinum 10 April 1998
CRIA (Canada) Gold 1 December 1976
CRIA (Canada) Platinum 1 December 1977
BPI (UK) Gold 5 December 1984
BPI (UK) Platinum 5 December 1984

Track listing[edit]Edit

Side one
No. Title Lyrics Music Length
1. "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"  
Jon AndersonSteve Howe Anderson, Howe 18:43
Side two
No. Title Lyrics Music Length
1. "And You and I"
  • I. "Cord of Life"
  • II. "Eclipse"
  • III. "The Preacher the Teacher"
  • IV. "The Apocalypse"  
Anderson, Howe, Bill BrufordChris Squire Anderson, Howe, Bruford, Squire 10:08
2. "Siberian Khatru"   Anderson Anderson, Howe, Rick Wakeman 8:55
Bonus tracks (2003 reissue)
No. Title Music Length
4. "America"   Yes (uncredited), Paul Simon 4:12
5. "Total Mass Retain (Single Version)"   3:21
6. "And You and I (Alternate Version)"   10:17
7. "Siberia (Studio Run-Through of "Siberian Khatru")"   9:19


Additional personnel
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