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Yes - Relayer CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.37 | 3020 ratings

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5 stars Review Nš 32

"Relayer" is my fourth review of a Yes' album. When I reviewed their sixth studio album "Tales From Topographic Oceans" of 1973, I wrote that when it was released, the reactions were divided between fans, critics, and even inside the band members. The band member that most criticised the album was Rick Wakeman. That even forced him to leave the group. On the other hand, Bill Bruford was invited to join King Crimson, to replace Ian Wallace on drums. He accepted. In reality, King Crimson makes a type of music much closer to what he always wanted to do.

So, the line up on "Relayer" is a bit different of the line up on "Tales From Topographic Oceans". The line up on "Relayer" is Jon Anderson (lead vocals), Steve Howe (vocals, acoustic and electric guitars), Chris Squire (vocals and bass guitar), Patrick Moraz (keyboards) and Alan White (drums and percussion). The new keyboardist of the band, Moraz, left Refugee, a progressive band which was formed by him in 1973 with Lee Jackson and Brian Davidson. Both, Jackson and Davidson, had previously worked with Keith Emerson on The Nice, before he have left the group to form Emerson, Lake & Palmer. White was a drummer who had worked before with John Lennon and George Harrison, and when he was touring with Joe Cocker, he was invited to join Yes, which he accepted immediately.

"Relayer" is their seventh studio album and was recorded at Squire's home, mixed and released at the Advision Studios in London, in Autumn of 1974, and was produced by Yes and Eddie Offord. The album has three tracks, and all the tracks were written by the group. The first track "The Gates Of Delirium" is the lengthiest track on the album and it's also one of the biggest tracks ever made by the group. It was inspired by the Leo Tolstoy's famous romance, "War And Peace". We can divide this theme into two parts. In the first part, the song begins with a kind of a prelude of a battle, which leads us into a musical section that represents the different stages of the battle. However, Anderson described it as a war song with a battle scene, but he doesn't explain or denounce particularly what was the battle. The second part entitled "Soon", was released as a single in 1975, and represents the aftermath of the battle. The lyrics are about the futility of war, and this is one of the most aggressive musics of the group, musically and lyrically. This is a perfect epic theme, made by the band. In my humble opinion, "The Gates Of Delirium" is with "Close To The Edge" the two greatest masterpieces composed by the band. The second track "Sound Chaser" is a more experimental track, with great influence of jazz, probably due to Moraz's influence. He is a pianist with a classical musical education, but he suffers from a major jazz influence, than Wakeman suffers. This theme contains some diverse improvisations by the individual band members, and all play an individual musical part on the track, which makes to the music a more difficult implementation. This is clearly and undoubtedly, the most frenetic and aggressive track ever made by Yes. The third track "To Be Over" is the most calm and melodic song of the album. It seems that the peace arrived after the storm. This theme has soft keyboard arrangements, accompanied with a pedal steel guitar, also used on the first track, and an electric sitar. Both instruments are played by Howe. It's a beautiful ballad, very soft and emotional, and represents another masterwork by Howe. It represents the perfect end to an excellent and perfect album.

The art cover on "Relayer" was, once more, featured by Roger Dean, the artist responsible for the most of the album's covers of the group. This is probably my favourite album's cover of him, ever.

The critic's reactions to this musical work were divided. Some said that the band was lost, and they were without inspiration and creativity. But others said that this was a truly masterpiece, and that probably this was the best album ever made by the group. Anyway, being or not their best work, commercially speaking, the album was a great success, reaching gold, and entering in the British and American charts.

Conclusion: For me, "Relayer" is the second best studio musical work of Yes, soon after their fifth studio album "Close To The Edge" released in 1972. The "Relayer's" sound, is without any doubt quite different from what the band had already produced before, creating new atmospheres, with instrumentation and musical performances extremely complexes, dramatics and realistic lyrics. And it's definitely more influenced by jazz. Sincerely, I think on "Relayer" we can clearly see the new musical influences in the group, essentially brought by the new band's keyboardist. We can say that "Relayer" is a product of Yes, in a transition musical phase. The final result was a tour- de-force album, by this legendary group. They moved into a different direction from their epic, "Tales From Topographic Oceans". Definitely, if you don't have it yet, you must buy it soon. This masterpiece must should be part of your musical collection.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 5/5 |


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