Rock Review: Yes, ‘Close to the Edge’ – Close to being perfect.

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The Classic 1972 Progressive Rock Album.

Probably my favourite all time prog rock album, ‘Close to the Edge’ (Elektra/Rhino CD) by Yes.

I was quite young when this came out in 1972 and didn’t actually hear it until later in the following year, when my elder brother brought it home. I think I had heard ‘Fragile’ by then too, the band’s 1971 release, which kicked off with ‘Roundabout’, one of Yes’ more ‘accessible’ numbers for a young boy. Nevertheless, I remember being pretty impressed by the whole album.

Spiritual sound

However, when my brother put ‘Close to the Edge’ on our family hi-fi, at first I wasn’t sure what to make of it. The slow start of planetary, naturalistic sound, the incredible weaving together of all the different movements of side one, took some time for me to appreciate, but now it’s like one epic poem, a vast spiritual movement of sound that is hard to describe, in words. It just has to be experienced, let it take you somewhere.

I still particularly like the ‘I Get Up I Get Down’ section, so beautiful, bringing together all the singing talents of the band, not just Jon Anderson, but also Steve Howe and Chris Squire.

Five virtuosos

Which leads me to a major point. Has there ever been a better example of five incredible talents working together, at the top of their game, producing such a masterpiece? I would doubt it.

Jon Anderson’s unique voice and inspirational lyricism; Bill Bruford’s peerless percussion; Steve Howe’s sheer virtuosity on six and twelve strings; Chris Squire’s uniquely lyrical bass and underrated singing; Rick Wakeman’s pure genius and dexterous flair.

It would prove to be a small window, sadly. Very soon, Bill Bruford would be on his way, followed soon after by Rick Wakeman. But what a beautiful, ornately made window it was. It was of its time.

Woven together

Side Two for me is equally impressive. I can still quite easily listen to ‘And You And I’ on repeat. I love the start, with Steve Howe hitting the harmonics on his twelve string, the way Rick’s synth plays over the top is so joyful, full of life. And like all Yes tracks, it’s difficult to envisage how they all put this together, so differing are the elements, but they come to together beautifully, woven by lyrics which are both hard to fathom, yet totally fitting – a Yes trademark.

And the final track, ‘Siberian Khatru’. Heaven knows what it’s about but if I had just one track to take to my desert island, I think it would be this.

Atmospheric

Great, catchy guitar riffs to start off and great rock playing by the whole band, but soon the wonderful group singing harmonies come in to play, adding a great atmospheric and naturalistic feel.

Then all the virtuosity of the band kicks in – indescribable. Especially, towards the end when they sing pairs of mysterious words with lots of reverb, which may, or may not, be related… but it works, it means something, though I don’t know what it is. And did I mention Steve Howe’s jazzy guitar on the outro?

Just how it should be, long reign the mystery.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

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Two Guitars

2guitars

How far could we have pushed it? How far did we
dare? The cold didn’t
hit us so much then and our bones weren’t

the barometers they are now – not
so plainly breaking
down. And time, he was our slow

playground friend casting his long spell,
fooling us to think that
what we had was real.

But a new chord
could send our minds off in tangents to those
places of colour, much better imagined

than experienced. Two guitars, two
minds playing like John
and Paul, though minus their gifts, their

backgrounds; all still ideas
in the ether surrounding, mingling even with
Alexander’s breath, the vapours of many

great men – and
where are they? Great only
in books, and how much

lesser are we?

© poem and image copyright Dave Barker 2012

New Video on You Tube ‘The Painter’

poem, painting and music © copyright dfbarker 2012

music performed on an old lorenzo acoustic guitar

Poem ‘Red Dress’

Red Dress

The tutor twice your age sat on your knee;
you were always lucky that way.
First night pub opening, top of the hill.
It was the normal pretentious affair,
the legal name with church overtones,
the perfect occasion for too much to drink.

That night I crashed at your mum’s place
and she wasn’t happy, I could tell –
the slamming pots, glances that could kill.
She’d got me down as a junkie
because I travelled light
but the spare room was handy,

set aside for special occasions. Never used.
We listened to some Steely Dan
and then began to jam.
That’s where Red Dress was born.
In between gigs we hired the room
with egg boxes on the walls,

to fashion our fledgling art; firing bass players,
hiring Marilyn sound-a-likes
(who frankly were better at screwing)
and making a right hash of everything,
course included. But band badges were made,
along with silly visits to photo booths.

‘These dirty streets…’ the first line of the lyric
fell into place with that progression in E.
Dreams of Idaho and California. Some sun.
You made it happen and it’s dedicated to you.
And when I heard the news, I knew it was true:
the happy-go-lucky guy on the end of the rope

was you.

© copyright df barker 2012

First published in 2011 in poetry collection ‘Anonymous Lines’, available for purchase here:  http://liten.be//gHmf9

* image created digitally © copyright dfbarker 2012

Poem ‘Date’

Date

One day there you were,
a diamond in my mind’s eye;
the little lady with strong dark eyes,
such verve, obligatory husky voice.
I’d rehearsed all my moves – you know,
the walk, the talk,
washed my hair especially,
three year old conditioner and all.
I knew I had to be special,
for you,
to be that all-singing male mix
of strength, humour and vulnerability
(frankly, nigh on impossible
unless your name is Depp).
Little wonder then I’d always disappoint,
fall flat, look a fool,
but tonight I didn’t –
because you didn’t turn up! –
unless you were that sexy bass player,
the little lady winking at me
with those dark gleaming eyes?

© copyright dfbarker 2012

*This is almost totally a product of the imagination!
Any events which might have inspired this occurred many years ago.

**The image is a digital creation