Yes, Close to the Edge

Some of the best prog nonsense from any band. The lyrics are gobbledygook ("total mass retain"?) and the jams go all over the place, but it's all so earnest and played so straight that it feels like it really means something, and the beauty of art rock is that it can mean anything you like. The strongest is the long-play title track, which showcases an early riff I'd swear I've heard Phish rip off plus an astonishing array of instruments and production effects, including a haunting bridge with water drips and echo as if they were playing a subterranean stage hundreds of miles beneath the surface. It builds incredibly well, too, up to a tremendous finish, something that the other two tracks, as accomplished as they are, do not manage nearly as effectively. That isn't to say they aren't good, though "Siberian Khatru" is a little too noodly and "And You And I" is a little too spare, but their chief sin is only being lesser. The 2003 reissue includes a castrated A-side cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "America" which includes their odd vocal take and excludes the more interesting jam that follows, along with the typical tedious studio outtakes, though the distilled-down single version of "Close to the Edge" as "Total Mass Retain" is a good starter track for the casual interest. This is probably the version to look for because the so-called 2013 definitive edition is absolutely excessive in what it includes and would intimidate even the most ardent Yes-head. The audiophiles will geek out on the surround mix, though. (Content: no concerns.)