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Yes - Relayer CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.37 | 3011 ratings

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3 stars Listening to Yes releases chronologically starting with 1971's "The Yes Album" (The band's first to feature axe-genius Steve Howe) you will undoubtedly begin to see a progression and growth in their sound and approach. Having it's height in the classic masterwork "Close to the Edge" in 1972, the progression and growth began to falter with the release of "Tales from Topographic Oceans" (the band's first with drummer Alan White) in 1973, and continued downward with the departure of "celebraty keyboardist" Rick Wakeman (replaced by Swiss born Patrick Moraz) and subsequent release, 1974's "Relayer."

The record consists of three epic tracks: The 20 minute plus "The Gates of Delirium," the 9 and a half minute "Soundchaser," and the album closer "To Be Over," also around 9 minutes.

"The Gates of Delirium" would be a song worthy of five stars by itself if some of the fat were cut out. The first sequence is breathtaking. Steve Howe really shines here, as does Alan White. But then it reaches a repetative "jam section" (for lack of a better term) that seems to wear down my patience. I feel like the arrangement was lackadaisically thrown together after somewhere near the 9 minute mark, despite some interesting sounds that make me think Steve kept dropping his guitar repeatedly (it's actually Alan White hitting a rack of assorted automobile parts). When the "jam section" finally subsides, it morphs into the subdued "Soon" movement, which is beautiful and powerful, and stands well as a song on it's own -- for those of you familiar with the limited single release, 'The Very Best of Yes" compilation, or the 2003 "Relayer" remaster.

"Soundchaser" is my favorite song on this album. It starts brilliantly with White's snare drum geniusly turned OFF. It goes from frightening horror movie prog sounds in an extended intro, to a more upbeat and positive verse section when the vocals come in. Then Steve Howe gives us a fantastic unaccompanied guitar solo! Chris Squire really asserts himself and his Rickenbacker in "Soundchaser," and this is the only song on "Relayer" that is really arranged well and that takes me on that journey I seek when I put in a good progressive album. "Cha cha cha, CHA CHA!"

"To Be Over" is awesome quiet background music for having a conversation with someone. There is really excellent guitar work, and the whole song is kinda pretty, But I am bored with it. The keyboard solo is fairly pointless if not misplaced and I have to fight to maintain my attention span during this piece. Mind you, I am a huge fan of the Mars Volta and Metallica, and most slow quiet Yes songs will do this to me. Overall though, the musicianship is classic Yes form which is always a pleasure to listen to.

Despite my desparaging comments, "Relayer" is still a great record. It is after all, still Yes. However, something is definitely missing, and I think that something is called Rick Wakeman. Sure, Pat Moraz does his thing, and does a pretty good job at creating the atmosphere and adequately filling the space left by Wakeman. But what "Relayer" lacks are Rick Wakeman's classical sensibilities to contrast with Alan White's harder edged rock approach.

"Relayer" stands well on it's own without having to be compared with "Close to the Edge" and "Fragile." But the fact is, it has no choice but to be compared to those model specimen's of classic Progressive Rock, and thus, gets a solid 3.4 stars -- rounded down -- from this reviewer. If you are a Yes fan, you better already have this. If you are just getting into Yes or Progressive Rock as a genre, "Relayer" is not a recommended starting point.

Juiceboxbiotch | 3/5 |


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