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Yes - Relayer CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.37 | 3021 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Close to the Edge (CttE) is a five-star, all-time classic of progressive rock, and is deserving of its status of being the #1 album according to the users of this website. Nonetheless, in my opinion, the less-accessible and slightly more obscure Relayer is the best album by Yes - - and Relayer gets my vote as the best album on progarchives.

Like CttE, Relayer is comprised of three songs: an "epic" on side one and two roughly nine-minute songs on side two of the original vinyl. Others have offered song-by-song comparisons, so I'll keep this short: Relayer has higher highs and darker depths than CttE. Reviewers here have rightly noted the compositional excellence of "Gates of Delirium," Relayer"s epic, although "Close to the Edge," side one of CttE, is also very well composed. The difference is greater on side two, where I find the pieces on Relayer to be superior.

While other Yes albums have included healthy doses of folk and psychedelia along with the group's trademark symphonic elements, Relayer has been noted as Yes's foray into fusion. This is no doubt partly due to the presence of keyboardist Patrick Moraz. Famously, Moraz played with the band for three years, but Relayer was the only studio album to feature him. Given my love for this album, it won't be a surprise that I think it was a mistake for the band to part ways with him. While his arrangements and playing easily equal those of Rick Wakeman, whom he temporarily replaced, it also seems like his presence acted as a counterbalance to leader Jon Anderson's more new-agey tendencies. Tales from Topographic Oceans, the predecessor to Relayer, was dominated by the vision of Anderson and guitarist Steve Howe, while on Relayer's immediate successors, Anderson and Wakeman were a bit too influential for my tastes. On Relayer, as had been the case with Tales, the composition seems to have been left primarily to Anderson and Howe (although on both albums, all members are given writing credit). But the band appears to have vetted and arranged the song ideas on Relayer much more carefully before recording them.

The result is the best progressive-rock album of all time.

patrickq | 5/5 |


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