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Yes - Relayer CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.37 | 2963 ratings

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1 stars A lot of people view "Tales of Topographic Oceans" as Yes' most pretentious, bombastic and needlessly overdone album. Not me, brother. When I look for the album where Yes completely fell off the rails, I point right at "Relayer", a pompous, uncreative caricature of everything that makes Yes great.

One of the things that you can at least generally count on for Yes is that the musicianship will be excellent, but even then that isn't the case here. Anderson's lyrics are completely uninspired, essentially on the "war is bad mmkay" message of "The Gates of Delirium". Steve Howe actually has some of his best guitar work on this album, but in this case "best" doesn't mean "most interesting", often wandering into unneeded, overlong solos. Chris Squire can generally be counted on to power the band's sound, but on this album he's barely audible, except when he's doing a bad imitation of Larry Graham on "Sound Chaser", and Alan White is just sort of...there, not contributing one thing or another to the band's sound. Lastly, there's Patrick Moraz, and his keyboard playing is ridiculous. I don't mean that in the sense that it's unbelievable how good he is, I mean that his style of keyboard playing literally sounds completely absurd: High pitched, nasal and spastic as hell, his tone also manages to sound dated in a way that Rick Wakeman's keyboards never did.

As to the songs themselves, as you can probably tell by the rating, they're all at least sort of terrible. "The Gates of Delirium" has the epic length of other Yes songs but not the epic scope, and therefore fails to give a reason why it must exist at such a length. Howe and Moraz basically dominate the sound of the song, each taking turns throwing solos at each other, while no other member of the band has much to do, Anderson included. There are about three minutes between 7:40 and 12:00 where you think the song might turn into something good, but simply reverts back to aimless noodling. And the "Soon" segment of the song isn't tranquil or soothing, it's just dull, going on for too long and providing nothing in the way of interesting musicianship.

As to the second half, things may actually get worse, as "Sound Chaser" is easily one of the, if not the, worst songs Yes has ever preformed, sounding like something the Mahavishnu orchestra might have come up with if they had all been doused with nitrous oxide in the studio. The song is overlong and cheesy without being dramatic, Moraz's keyboards at their absolute worst here, and Steve Howe has one of his most uninspired solos to date right in the middle. To top it all off you have Chris Squire doing his aforementioned terrible funk impersonation and Anderson bleating "CHA CHA CHA, CHA CHA CHA", making "Sound Chaser" not just bad, but embarrassing.

To be fair, "To Be Soon" has two things going for it: The first minute and the last minute. The first minute because it's sort of a pretty intro, and the last because it features a nice vocal section. The rest of the song is completely worthless, featuring Alan White's perplexingly stiff, uninteresting drum line and a structure that so badly wants to imitate "And You and I" and fails in nearly every way.

This is essentially how I can describe "Relayer": Take "Close to the Edge" and copy the structure of that album down to a T. Now make all of the songs boring, overlong and heinously dated. Congratulations, you have "Relayer", one of Yes' worst, if not their worst period, album. If you have any love for Yes' other work, or any love for your own ears, stay far, far away from this unimaginative, flat, corny 40 minutes of tripe.

40footwolf | 1/5 |


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