Down At The Edge (Highland HL110/111#Y20)
Dillion Stadium, Hartford, CT – September 25th, 1972
Disc 1 (54:49): Firebird Suite, Siberian Khatru, I’ve Seen All Good People, Close To The Edge, Mood For A Day, Clap, Heart Of The Sunrise
Disc 2 (73:07): And You And I, Exceprt From “The Six Wives Of Henry VIII”, Roundabout, Yours Is No Disgrace. Bonus tracks, Sporthalle, Böblingen, Germany – April 16th, 1971: Clap/Classical Gas, Perpetual Change (incl. drum solo), Everydays (incl. keyboard solo)
Down At The Edge is an early Highland release that presents two very interesting tapes from roughly the same era. The main tape used comes from the early Close To The Edge tour, the show from Hartford Connecticut. Highland list the show as August 14th, 1972 but rain twenty minutes into Edgar Winter’s set cancelled the show and it was made up on September 25th. It is a very good and enjoyable audience recording with some tape hiss present but not enough to truly be a distraction. There are several cuts between songs and one small one at 13:40 in “Close To The Edge.”
Virtuoso reissued this show on Seasons Will Pass You (Virtuoso 040/041) who, according to the review, “cut the highs so much. They did get rid of the hiss that plagued Down At The Edge but also squashed some of the detail in the upper register of the tape in doing so. The low end is much nicer and Virtuoso is a bit of an improvement here but I can’t really consider this as big of an upgrade as I was hoping for.” Since the later release isn’t an upgrade, the Highland is still a viable title to own.
The bonus tape is also a great addition. Highland misattribute it to the April 16th, 1971 in Stuttgart. The date is correct but Yes played in Böblingen. It is a distant and slightly distorted recording but clear enough given its age. The entire tape in circulation is forty five minutes but Highland presents only three songs from the middle of the set. It works well as a bonus since what it presents is interesting.
Connecticut is their first show in the state since the triumphant New Haven show the previous summer and occurs on what is essentially their second US tour for Close To The Edge. In a way the Hartford audience were fortunate the show in August was rained about because in the intervening month “Close To The Edge” was added to the setlist. This tape has one of the earliest live versions of the song and is played very close to the studio version. Alan White had yet to add the drums to “I Get Up I Get Down” as will be characteristic of all live versions since Yessongs.
Steve Howe has his spot with “Mood For A Day,” introduced by Jon Anderson as “something for you it’s about things that happen everyday,” and “Clap.” After “Heart Of The Sunrise” Anderson speak about “And You And I” from the new album and emphasizes the song’s political roots. He obliquely refers to the year’s presidential campaign saying is is about “what we felt this year in America and the view from the outside I really think a big change could happen this year…the song relates to all these things that trouble our songs. In the end, the song finishes with a dream out of secrets because we all dream of these incredible things that we get together for ourselves.”
Anderson jokes about Wakeman’s heavy drinking while introducing for his solo spot, saying, “Now I’m going to introduce you to our resident keyboard player who got a buzz somewhere along the line they say. The contract he has in his pocket and halfway through his set he will appear to ride in the sky. That’s what he told me last night. And after a bottle of tequila here is our resident keyboard player, Mr. Rick Wakeman.” The six minute solo includes themes from “The Six Wives Of Henry VIII” and other themes and segues into the set closer “Roundabout.”
The bonus tracks are another audience recording from the European tour in April 1971 for The Yes Album. Much like the others, Böblingen is distant but very clear recording which captures the entire show. Highland chose to include only the middle songs. It starts off with Anderson introducing Howe, who is going to “play some acoustic songs which, you think about it he plays songs to listen to, think about. Yea for swinging lovers. Hot licks. This is a collection of musical sounds called ‘The Clap.'” Howe’s solo number also includes the “Classical Gas” interlude.
“Perpetual Change” follows and starts off with Howe making some bizarre chicken sounds on the guitar. Quite why he’s imitating the fowl is not clear and the audience, judging by their silence, don’t see the humor in it. The performance is quite heavy however. Squire’s bass is very clear in the mix and Bruford plays his solo by the end.
The final song is “by Steve Stills, we’re currently starting to play him. We’re going to do a song that’s called ‘Everydays.'” This performance begins with a very rare Tony Kaye keyboard solo. It lasts about two minutes before the melody begins. His solo shares themes with the one he recorded for “The Prophet” on Time And A Word. Howe take a very avant garde approach in the middle in what turns out to be the strangest recorded version of the piece and this alone comes close to making this tape a must have. As good as this bonus is, the entire show deserves a silver release. Overall Down At The Edge is still a great Highland title worth having.