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Yes - Relayer CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.37 | 3179 ratings

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4 stars The only thing I really don’t much like about this album is the first seven or eight minutes of “Gates of Delirium”. The first few times I heard this album I was only a young teenager, and it was just a bit too ‘out there’ for my tastes. Over time I’ve come to appreciate the beauty in the complex and sometimes chaotic arrangements, particularly the really violent middle passage where the band (especially Steve Howe) seems to be almost purposely trying to sound as if they are all on different musical plains. I was struck early on by how little Jon Anderson actually sings on this track, but was not really disappointed as I didn’t find his vocal style all that appealing at the time. But when the discord finally clears and he rises above Howe and Moraz’ mellow unison with the ethereal “Soon……”, the whole monstrosity of this work really comes together.

Speaking of Moraz, he certainly came as a welcome improvement over Rick Wakeman for me. I’ve always found Wakeman to be extremely talented, but he also seemed to want to just kind of play his own music around the band instead of being a part of it. Moraz blends in much better to create a more homogenous sound, albeit a much less grandiose one. On “Sound Chaser” especially the music seems to be a bit jazz-infused, with even Howe getting into a more extemporaneous mood than he did on Close to the Edge. For years I much preferred the back side of this album to “Gates of Delirium”, although in recent years when I listen to this album I find myself actually playing ‘Gates’ more than the other two tracks.

That said, “To Be Over” is still probably my favorite on Relayer. The very slow buildup where Howe finally emerges with some truly virtuoso guitar is a welcome respite from the band’s previous few years of great but often pompous compositions. This is probably mostly attributable to Moraz’ more complementary style of keyboard playing, but on this track the blended vocals are also a nice progression of the band’s music. The fadeout ending is a bit of a letdown, but this is a minor point at best.

This certainly isn’t my favorite Yes album (I much prefer The Yes Album actually), but it is in some ways a welcome change to what was becoming a bit predictable over the previous few years. Unfortunately the good times were coming to an end for many of us Yes fans, and after Going For the One everything seemed to go down hill pretty quickly.

If you’re new to the music of Yes and want to pick just a couple of albums to start with, this one and The Yes Album are two pretty good ones to begin with. Another four star work, but sadly the last such from the band in my opinion. If you play the last five minutes of “Gates of Delirium” today, it almost sounds like a requiem for this best incarnation of the band. Too bad.


ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |


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