CTTESACDIt’s no surprise that Close to the Edge has been as popular as it has been. When it was released in 1973, it shook Yes fans’ world. Even Jon Anderson, in a recent TAP (and The Morton Report) interview, said that the band knew they had created “…something special”. Since its release, there has been multiple versions of the groundbreaking album released including Rhino Records’ vault-revisited reissue that provided a good remaster, and important bonus tracks.

Years ago, when Warner Brothers were championing their artists’ most classic recording in DVD-Audio (a high-resolution format that not only remixed the album, but offered a 5.1 surround format as well) format, there was a rumor that Close To The Edge would follow the released DVD-Audio of Fragile. As misfortune would have it, the title disappeared in a wispy haze never to be breathed a word of again. This left many, many fans disappointed, their hopes seemingly dashed against the mountains that Dean graced Yes’ covers with.

In the waning months of 2012, Audio Fidelity, a progressive company headed by the talented and tireless Marshall Blonstein, surprisingly announced a return to SACD (a once competing high resolution format (to DVD-Audio) created and sustained by Sony Music).  SACD, like its rival, re-mixed classics for impressive playback for end-user fans. While the DVD-Audio format died a painful and mourned death, SACD refused to “…go gently into that good night.”  Therefore, the format remained relevant and important to fans of higher grade audio. The first title announced for new SACD restoration was Close To The Edge. The fans of Yes were overjoyed, not only because the deserving title was finally getting its hi-res due, but also because that remaster would be done by trusted engineer, Steve Hoffman.

Audio Fidelity’s newly remastered version of Close To The Edge is wonderful to hear in many ways.  All songs benefit, however, the clear winner is “And You And I” (in my opinion).  While not everyone is going to be entirely happy with any mix, no matter how well it was produced, I believe the general consensus will be that the Audio Fidelity SACD is a welcome – a VERY welcome – addition to the Yes library, especially since it fills the void created by the highly anticipated DVD-Audio planned reissue that never materialized (I wonder if it’s completed).

There are many amazing moments of exquisite clarity that will have you replaying the album many times. Close To The Edge was never an album that just played while you did other things.  It has always been a full experience set that demanded ALL of your attention.  This SACD enhances that full immersion. The hybrid CD layer works just as well in the car or on a portable.  While I never can appreciate too much music emanating from either of those machines, I throughly enjoyed the music found on the AF remaster.

At long last, fans now have their hi-res version of “The Album”. Whether you enjoy it in your SACD player at home (as it should be heard), or you travel with the Hybrid CD layer, it’s certain that you will gain more respect for the album as you hear it again, perhaps discovering new points in the music that you may not have picked up before. Regardless, I highly recommend your acquisition of one of Rock’s great treasures, enjoying it for as much of its audio enhancements as you will enjoy and appreciate.

Release Date: March 5, 2013 (SACD); September 13, 1972 (Original)
Label: Audio Fidelity
Band Website
Availability: SACD Hybrid (with CD layer)

–Matt Rowe

Close to the Edge Inside Cover Dean

By MARowe