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Old 01-31-2021, 11:29 AM   #111 (permalink)
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If you chance to look at the second post on this thread you'll see a question by Unknown Soldier, wherein he asks if I have listened to this album yet, and tells me that until I do, nobody here will take me seriously, sort of the same kind of disbelief that I hadn't heard it/didn't worship it as was engendered when I revealed I had never heard a King Crimson album.

Look, I won’t try to pretend it’s not a classic album, and deservedly so, but I have never been sufficiently impressed by this opus to understand how it consistently and constantly comes top of every god-damn poll regarding “greatest prog albums” or whatever. I know, all of you out there, particularly Yes fans, are thinking the same thing, while lighting up the torches;

And it does seem to be regarded as blasphemy to even mention the words “less than perfect” when talking about the album, but what can I do? I’m not known as a bandwagon-jumper, and I’ve lurched on to the beat of my own drum for so long now that I’m really unlikely to start falling in line at this late stage. I know the respect the album commands, and I’m sure it’s merited. I just wish I could share it. I’ve only listened to the album a couple of times, but neither of them have made me feel I was in the presence of greatness. This could be due to my less than fawning attitude towards the band, or maybe I really just don’t get it.

So I’ll try again.

Album title: Close to the Edge
Artist: Yes
Nationality: English
Year: 1972
Chronology: 5
The Trollheart Factor: 5

One of the things that turns me slightly against this classic album is, I suppose, the fact that it has really only three tracks on it, even if two of them run for over ten minutes, and the third only misses that by seconds. But the main suite, the title track, comes in at over eighteen and kicks off the album. Now I have a major problem with seventies Yes - I just tend to be bored mostly by what I’ve heard of it to date - but I’ll try to put that aside and view this, if possible, through the eyes of someone coming to this album for the first time.

So we have a sort of birdsong and sound effects thing to open then Steve Howe’s busy guitar bursts upon the song, going a bit wild while Rick Wakeman wibbles away on the keys and then Jon Anderson gives a loud “Aaaah!” a few times, Biff Bruford in his last appearance with the band making sure his presence is felt from the beginning. The first part of the suite is called “The Solid Time of Change” and other than those expostulations from Anderson seems to be mostly an instrumental intro to the piece, then Anderson comes in with proper vocal as the tempo picks up in what is presumably the second part, “Total Mass Retain”. Always hard to delineate parts of a suite if they’re all shown as one track so I’m guessing here, though aficionados of the album will no doubt tell me if I’m wrong.

Okay, now I hear the lyric “I Get Up, I Get Down” which seems to be the third part, but we’re only seven minutes in, so I doubt we can be there already? Maybe the lyric is used in one of the preceding parts? Maybe I should just stop trying to figure out where the parts change over. Yeah, that sounds like a plan. Anderson is singing in full voice now, the guitar a kind of jazzy, funky riff carrying the tune, some very nice bass from Chris Squire merging with Hammond from Wakeman as we hit the tenth minute and then it stops on sighing guitar, all percussion fading out entirely as the tune begins to drift like a gentle wind. Nice piano bringing in vocal harmonies, very low and quiet, then rising as a kind of choir, and despite what I said above I think this may be “I Get Up, I Get Down”, which has now taken us into the eleventh minute. Very relaxing.

Has a very Beatles/ELO feel about it, this part of the suite, Anderson’s voice easily rising above everything as he displays his powerful range and then a deep church organ comes in sonorously to take over proceedings as Jon steps back, allowing Wakeman to shine. Anderson drifts in and out during this sequence, perhaps like a leaf borne on a wind, occasionally landing, then flitting back up into the sky, but this part is all Wakeman. Howe then lends a hand as, I assume, we head towards the final part, “Seasons of Man”. Some fine lively arpeggios from Wakeman, attended by Squire, as we move towards the sixteenth minute, Anderson coming back in with the vocal just before the end and then it just all sort of fades out.

The other suite is “And You and I”, which is also broken into four parts, the first being “Cord of Life”, which opens with gentle acoustic guitar from Steve Howe, then Anderson pairs up with him as they sort of stride along together before the rest of the band come in to flesh out the melody. In the sixth minute then it drops back again to Howe on the acoustic solo, very introspective, then it picks up a little again as Anderson returns, and Wakeman adds his own touch though mostly, to be fair, he’s conspicuous by his absence on this track, which I find odd as there are only three on the album. It is quite a whimsical tune, I guess: might not benefit from bombastic Hammond or Wurlitzer or pounding piano maybe.

And now we’re into “Siberian Khatru”, which I’m afraid I will never grow to love. I don’t even like it. Bugs me. And there’s nearly ten minutes of it. It does have to be said that it’s the most uptempo and rocky track on the album, another vehicle for Howe’s guitar, though here Wakeman gets plenty of real estate too. Sounds like some brass in there too, not that I care. I really do not like this track.

Track Listing

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
2. And You and I
- i. Cord of Life
- ii. Eclipse
- iii. The Preacher, the Teacher
- iv. Apocalypse
3. Siberian Khatru

And so it ends. And so I remain skeptical. Call me a heretic, say I’m not a true prog head. Burn my effigy in the town square - hey! I said my effigy! I’m just never going to get it. It’s not that I consider this a bad album, but I don’t see the fuss. I just don’t. The greatest prog album of all time? Why is this better than, say, Trespass? Or 2112? Or even In the Court of the Crimson King? Sure, it has two suites but so what? Lots of prog albums have those - Yes may have been the first to do this, although I doubt it. But it’s a competent album, in my opinion, and not one I’d be spinning much if at all.

As Homer said about the Farside calendar: I don’t get it. I don’t get it. I don’t get it. I…. don’t get it.

Not close enough to the edge for me I guess.

I won’t insult anyone any further by rating it.

Now... now come on! No need to be like that!

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Old 01-31-2021, 03:11 PM   #112 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
Call me a heretic, say I’m not a true prog head. Burn my effigy in the town square - hey! I said my effigy! I’m just never going to get it. It’s not that I consider this a bad album, but I don’t see the fuss. I just don’t. The greatest prog album of all time? Why is this better than, say, Trespass? Or 2112? Or even In the Court of the Crimson King? Sure, it has two suites but so what? Lots of prog albums have those - Yes may have been the first to do this, although I doubt it. But it’s a competent album, in my opinion, and not one I’d be spinning much if at all.

As Homer said about the Farside calendar: I don’t get it. I don’t get it. I don’t get it. I…. don’t get it.

Not close enough to the edge for me I guess.
There's a lot of deep analysis and material out there already that break down why Close To The Edge is highly regarded, so if you ever want to go learn more about "why" then you shouldn't have much trouble. None of the other prog bands (or otherwise) sounded like what Yes were doing in '72, so it isn't hard for me to see why it made a big impression personally.
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Old 01-31-2021, 04:06 PM   #113 (permalink)
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Uh-huh. The thing is, I've never liked being told what to like, or why such an album is a classic. I understand things like people citing it, influences it has on other artists, sales, longevity, innovation etc and that's all fine. But just because an album is a classic doesn't mean I automatically have to like it, and I just don't. I mean, I don't not like it; I just don't see any justification for its place at the apex of prog rock. To me, there are far, far better albums both before and after CttE that deserve the title. But I know I'm in a minority. I did try - god knows I tried, in case somehow I was missing something, but I just don't see anything special there, not for me.

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Old 01-31-2021, 04:25 PM   #114 (permalink)
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One more to go before we sail out of January



Title: The Seven Deadly Sins
Artist: Humanity Gone
Nationality: American
Sub-genre: Progressive Metal
Release date: January 16 2021
Album number: 1
Familiarity: Zero
RYM Rating: n/a
ProgArchives Rating: n/a

Again I have to assume this is the band’s debut album; Glass Kites are the only artist with new album out this month that I have come across who are even known anywhere, so there’s nothing to contradict or confirm my supposition. I find it rather interesting that this is supposedly a prog metal band but they don’t have a keyboard player. We’ll see how that plays out. I also assume, given both the title of the album and that of the tracks, that this is a concept based on (anyone)...?

It kicks off with “Pride”, a sort of a slower, almost doomy feeling to it, vocalist (and drummer) Angelo Rivera clear and strong, if a little nasal, while Thelmo Rago thumps out the guitar chords like hammer blows. Some sort of spoken recorded track where someone speaks through a loudhailer, some pretty good soloing, then rather surprisingly “Wrath” is a more laconic sort of tune, when I would have expected Rivera would have been growling all over the place while Rago beat his guitar to death. I mean, it’s heavy, no doubt, but more grindy than I would have thought it would have been. Getting even more introspective now for “Gluttony” - kind of hard to imagine how that could be represented musically, if this is what Humanity Gone are trying to accomplish here.

I must say I very much like the vocal on this one, and how the guitar just punches your face in then flies into one heck of a solo but still manages to somehow keep it down, as it were. I definitely hear the prog metal in this. “Lust” is up next, should be interesting! Opens with reflective guitar, almost acoustic then kicks up hard and heavy, the lyric seems to make a very clear distinction between love and lust, drawing a comparison with violence and abuse. Rivera’s vocal is dark and slightly manic, I like the guitar histrionics here, almost neoclassical in nature against a slow, pounding drumbeat. Quite atmospheric. Staggered guitar riffs opening “Sloth”, which again belies its title by not dragging slowly along in funereal pace, but in fact thumping at a decent pace with snarling guitar and a tripping drumbeat.

“Greed” ups the tempo, bringing a heavier feel to the proceedings, and the album finishes on “Envy”, which also keeps things heavy with barking guitar and a rocking tempo, quite the air of menace about it.

Track Listing

1. Pride (7)
2. Wrath (7)
3. Gluttony (8)
4. Lust (7)
5. Sloth (7)
6. Greed (7)
7. Envy (7)

It’s certainly a competent album, and an interesting idea, however if the band intended to represent each of the Seven Deadly Sins through musical interpretation, I’d have to say that for me they failed here. At best, I think each sin is used as a general theme for the song built around it, but there are areas where I think they could have approached some of them differently. Perhaps that’s a good thing: they didn’t take the obvious route (angry on “Wrath”, slow on “Sloth” etc) but in the end I think I’m left with a feeling of what was the actual point?

I think the jury may remain out on this one for some time, but for now


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