- An amazing copy of this Prog Blockbuster, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second – super quiet vinyl too, as quiet as any copy we have ever listed
- An incredibly complex recording, with huge organs, light-speed changes and an abundance of multi-tracked parts
- A recording that will push even the highest quality, most heavily tweaked stereo to its limits – if you can play this record good and loud, you can play anything
- 5 stars: “Close to the Edge represented the musical, lyrical, and sonic culmination of all that Yes had worked toward over the past five years. In 1972, Close to the Edge was a flawless masterpiece.”
This vintage Atlantic pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What superb sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1972
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments (and effects!) having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
We Love the Complexity
We had started and then abandoned this shootout multiple times prior to 2008. Most of the pressings of Close to the Edge we played were painful to listen to, and even the better pressings weren’t all that we had hoped for. Where was the Tubey Magical analog sound with the HUGE Whomp Factor that we knew so well from the best copies of Fragile and The Yes Album?
Let’s think about it. This is a complex recording, with huge organs, light-speed changes, lots of multi-tracking, and what practically amounts to an overload of information. Can you imagine how irritating all that can sound crammed onto a third-rate copy? We didn’t have to imagine it — we heard it. We feel fortunate to have survived it.
But that’s exactly what made the shootout so rewarding. We had finally gotten the sound we were searching for from Close To The Edge, although it was anything but easy. The toughest peaks to climb are the ones you feel proudest standing atop, and I have no doubt that many of you will be able to get there, just as we did.
What We’re Listening For
Less grit – smoother and sweeter sound, something that is not easy to come by on Close to the Edge.
A bigger presentation – more size, more space, more room for all the instruments and voices to occupy. The bigger the speakers you have to play this record the better.
More bass and tighter bass. This is fundamentally a pure rock record. It needs weight down low to rock the way Eddie Offord wanted it to.
Present, breathy vocals. A veiled midrange is the rule, not the exception.
Good top end extension to reproduce the harmonics of the instruments and details of the recording including the studio ambience.
Last but not least, balance. All the elements from top to bottom should be heard in harmony with each other. Take our word for it, assuming you haven’t played a pile of these yourself, balance is not that easy to find.
Our best copies will have it though, of that there is no doubt.
It should be noted that there is distortion on the tape. It’s on every LP copy and it’s on the CD too. There are cacophonous passages that have what sounds like board overload, mike preamp overload, tape saturation or some combination of all three. As a rule, the less the distortion the better the pressing, and our best pressings will have very little distortion indeed.
The British originals can be good, but they are hard to find and usually have bad vinyl and weak sound. The better MoFi pressings can sound decent, but those are pricey too and have issues of their own.
It seems as though our Hot Stamper pressings are the only game in town for those who want to hear this wonderful music sound its best, but you’ve got to be up for the challenge. If you haven’t done the work with your stereo that must be done to play a recording like this, you might want to spend your hard-earned money on some of our other Hot Stampers, the ones that are easier to reproduce.
Better yet, buy it and consider it a challenge. When it starts to work its magic in your system, that’s a pretty clear sign that you’ve really accomplished something.
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
And You and I:
I. Cord of Life
III. The Preacher the Teacher
AMG 5 Star Rave Review!
With 1971’s Fragile having left Yes poised quivering on the brink of what friend and foe acknowledged was the peak of the band’s achievement, Close to the Edge was never going to be an easy album to make. Drummer Bill Bruford was already shifting restlessly against Jon Anderson’s increasingly mystic/mystifying lyricism, while contemporary reports of the recording sessions depicted bandmate Rick Wakeman, too, as little more than an observer to the vast tapestry that Anderson, Steve Howe, and Chris Squire were creating. For it was vast.
Close to the Edge comprised just three tracks, the epic “And You and I” and “Siberian Khatru,” plus a side-long title track that represented the musical, lyrical, and sonic culmination of all that Yes had worked toward over the past five years. Close to the Edge would make the Top Five on both sides of the Atlantic …
In 1972, Close to the Edge was a flawless masterpiece.
Aligning The Planets
A word of caution: Unless your system is firing on all cylinders, even our hottest Hot Stamper copies — the Super Hot and White Hot pressings with the biggest, most dynamic, clearest, and least distorted sound — can have problems . Your system should be thoroughly warmed up, your electricity should be clean and cooking, you’ve got to be using the right room treatments, and we also highly recommend using a demagnetizer such as the Walker Talisman on the record, your cables (power, interconnect and speaker) as well as the individual drivers of your speakers.
This is a record that’s going to demand a lot from the listener, and we want to make sure that you feel you’re up to the challenge. If you don’t mind putting in a little hard work, here’s a record that will reward your time and effort many times over, and probably teach you a thing or two about tweaking your gear in the process (especially your VTA adjustment, just to pick an obvious area most audiophiles neglect).
Our Difficulty of Reproduction Scale
This recording is quite difficult to reproduce, which means it ranks high on our Difficulty of Reproduction Scale. Do not attempt to play it using any but the best equipment.
It took a long time to get to the point where we could clean the record properly, twenty years or so, and about the same amount of time to get the stereo to the level it needed to be, involving, you guessed it, many of the Revolutionary Changes in Audio we tout so obsessively. It’s not easy to find a pressing with the low end whomp factor, midrange energy and overall dynamic power that this music needs, and it takes one helluva stereo to play one too.
As we’ve said before about these kinds of recordings — Ambrosia; Blood, Sweat and Tears; The Yes Album; Dark Side of the Moon, Led Zeppelin II — they are designed to bring an audio system to its knees.
If you have the kind of big system that a record like this demands, when you drop the needle on the best of our Hot Stamper pressings, you are going to hear some amazing sound .
…along these lines can be found below.
This listing will help you to Get the Most Out of Your Hot Stampers.
This listing will help you to Get Rid of Grit and Grain the Right Way.
You can find your very own Hot Stamper pressings by using the techniques we lay out in The Four Pillars of Success.
Record shootouts are the fastest and easiest way to hone your listening skills, a subject we discuss often on the site and directly address in this commentary from way back in 2005.