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Yes - Relayer CD (album) cover

RELAYER

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

4.36 | 2104 ratings

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ExittheLemming
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Visions relayed to Anderson by his goldfish after pot pourri is sprinkled in the bowl

Must admit I am not really a die-hard Yes fan but if challenged, could name sufficient tracks culled from their output up to circa 1974 to fill out a single CD with 80 minutes of fantastic music.

That said, this is probably my favourite individual Yes album and although the reasons are many fold, they might summarise down to these:

PATRICK MORAZ - a vastly underrated keyboard player who suffers from unfair comparisons to Wakeman. They both have chops a butcher's dog would die for, but Moraz has jazz in his digits whereas the Caped Crusader, for all his merits, does not. The hirsute Swiss plays some very tasteful and subtle stuff here, and although not 'in yer face' in terms of heroic Moog soloing as heard on previous outings, his reticence in this area may have been a case of:

I'm the new boy, best just make sure I don't tread on toes first

Although difficult to prove, the spacier, jazzier and more chromatic feel of the album may be in no small measure down to Moraz's influence? What he chooses NOT to play is just as important here as what he does i.e the creation of space within which to ENHANCE the other parts of the music.

STEVE HOWE - indisputably a brilliant technician, but it is not inconceivable that if asked why he crams 200 notes into a space sufficient to house a comfortable eight, he might reply:

Because I Can

For me, his guitar sound on the previous Yes albums is quite wretched. A tinny, twangy and fizzy squabble that despite some inspired note and scale choices, usually ends up cluttering the already overwrought arrangements. However, here on Relayer some bright spark technician (Offord?) must have approached the maestro with a tremulous:

Your guitar sounds like an angry ukelele in a jam jar Steve, try this setting man

Voila!...his Gibson semi-acoustic at last sounds rich and full bodied, like Kenny Burrell with balls.

ALAN WHITE - a drummer who deserves great credit for stepping into the daunting sneakers of Mr Bruford. After the nightmare of 'Piles from Pornographic Lotions' he appears to have settled comfortably into the drum-stool and his new found confidence is exemplified by some fantastic playing e.g. the dizzying break early on in Sound Chaser

CHRIS SQUIRE - Author of one of the most sought after but difficult to replicate sounds in prog, the overdriven bass. It truly is a wondrous phenomenon and conspires to be both gutsy and cutting and sumptuously bottomy at all the right times. A very good singer in his own right as evidenced by his excellent solo album Fish Out of Water I am surprised he wasn't allowed to take over on lead occasionally. But wait up...that's because of.....

JON ANDERSON - the 'Crushed Velvet Sergeant Major' may have been chastened by the reception Tales received, so he appears to 'lighten up' a little here and let the others take over some of the control. Mercifully, his habitually opaque lyrics are a touch more secular this time around, and there are moments when Mr Anderson almost appropriates English. (but that might be just my Scottish speakers playing up)

A truly gifted singer with a vocal texture and range that almost DEFINES the sound of Yes. Such a shame that he spent so much of his free time with his head firmly up his backside.

All three compositions presented here are excellent, and the lessons learned from Tales result in arrangements that although busy and detailed, exhibit a willingness on the part of ALL the band to recognise 'the bigger picture' and not just their own little part thereof. With grandiose concepts of performing live telecasts suspended from a custard lake on Uranus in lederhosen temporarily shelved, the new line-up just got on with creating innovative rock music and what is probably the last great Yes album.

From here on in sadly, the band's output degenerated into a rigidly conservative brand of anodyne MTV 'rawk' which is a disgrace to their inspirational and carefully wrought cultural heritage.

Shame about the lederhosen and custard though.

ExittheLemming | 4/5 |

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