on 16 January 2004
Yes released this one in 1974. This is the third cd release of it but is by far the most worthwhile to purchase. Extensive sleeve notes in a fold out booklet and all the original sleeve artwork in a cardboard sleeve and outer sleeve case. Much has been written about Relayers sparse feel and the jam section on the first track 'The Gates of Delirium' which occupied one side of the original vinyl release. Suffice to say, if you wanted to introduce someone not familiar to the band you wouldn't choose this album. For the lifelong fan of course it's a classic and 'Gates' sounds good as ever on this remastered edition.
The bonus tracks combine both sides of the US 'Soon' single ('Soon' being the beautiful closing section to 'Gates') with a studio run through of 'Gates'. This latter version is well worth having as it has subtle differences from the standard version (including 'la la' lyrics where none were written at that point !) with the most notable difference being the extra up tempo bit at the very end.
The only studio album to feature keyboard whiz Patrick Moraz, filling therole from departing Rick Wakeman. But what a contribution he makes. Thoughsome of the material was written before Moraz joined, his jazzier andfunkier style embellishes the distinctive Yes sound with something moreaggressive and frenzied. The overall effect, especially on "Soundchaser"was more like the Mahavishnu Orchestra.
This album comes across as a mirror image to Close to the Edge. Bothcontain three pieces, one side long track, backed with two relativelyshorter pieces. But whereas Close to the Edge was all lightness, andcolour, Relayer was hard and grey as typified in their respective sleevedesigns. But Relayer is my personal favourite of the two. The opening"Gates of Delerium" rips through it's 20 odd minutes at a tremendous rate.The middle instrumental section never lets up, a fierce duel betweenMoraz's synths and Howe's frenetic electric guitar. The serene ending ofthe "Soon" section is a welcome chance for a breather after the cacophonyof what has just come before. Yes have never been as energised as on thistrack. "Soundchaser" is funky, with again Howe's jagged guitar playingtaking solo spot in the mid-section. The closing "To Be Over" is calmingand beautiful and a fitting finish to this classic album.
Special mention must be made of the remastering of this recording. Allprevious versions of this, whether on vinyl, cassette or earlier CDreleases have suffered from high levels of hiss, particularly noticeableon the "Soon" section of "The Gates of Delerium". Here at last, this hasbeen removed and we now have a crystal clear sound, with lots of detail inthe mix. New life has been given to this recording. The digipak andbooklet do justice to Roger Dean's artwork. A superb job all round fromRhino.
on 8 August 2008
The best Yes album.
Part of the appeal of Yes was that they had "taken some getting into"; this had certainly been the case with Close to the Edge - which became truly sublime after about four listenings. Once its greatness was established, I recall the eager anticipation that went round the Sixth Form (that dates me) when it was reported that they were going to follow up with something called "Tales from the Topographic Ocean" - sounded challenging, bold, an extension of the Close to the Edge aesthetic into mythopoeic territory, etc..
Then the title was officially announced as "Tales from Topographic Oceans"; and, with that wishy-washy plural, everything seemed to go kind of vague. As for the album itself: well, true, there were some decently avant garde moments and a couple of baroque synth solos from Wakeman - but, in all honestly, things were beginning to sound just a wee bit "country" for my liking. Roger Dean's artwork had lost its, well, Edge. Plus, we heard, in due course, that Wakeman was leaving. Yes seemed on the verge of losing musicality to pomp (ironic, given Wakeman's later destinations at the Centre of the Earth and Camelot (on ice)).
Meanwhile, my own longing for keyboard wizardry of a more eloquent, jazz-oriented style was being well-satisfied by Jan Hammer, with and without added Mahavishnu. Indeed, he out-played everyone else, not just with fantastic solo improvisation but also in beautiful compositions and arrangements. (I heartily recommend "The First Seven Days" to anyone into the tastefully awesome and the true sound of What Vangelis and Wakeman Would Actually Have Sounded Like with Focus; also, the album Hammer released with violin (and guitar) virtuoso Jerry Goodman, "Like Children", has a truly original, harsh, even austere, eastern-jazz-funk-rock flavour that I highly commend - both are available now.)
Wakeman left Yes. A new album was announced: Relayer - sounding troublingly like a development of a refrain from "High the Memory" on Tales. Meanwhile, I caught a Birmingham gig by a band called Refugee, which was basically The Nice revisited: and was utterly blown away by their keyboards man, this euro-rocky looking chap called Patrick Moraz, who could bend pitch and Jazz It like Jan in a manner I thought, in the daze of the live set, too good to be true. Then I heard that Moraz was joining Yes...
So: this was set to be my near-dream Yes line-up; on the downside, what if Moraz got absorbed into the wetness of those Oceans? Remember what I said about the need to "get into" Yes? Well, Relayer was obtained hot from the pressing; I took it home and, as was my habit, put on Side Two first. This made Sound Chaser - gad! - the first new Yes track I'd heard since Tales, Wakeman's exit, Moraz with Refugee live... I can still remember the hairs going up on my arms as Sound Chaser kicked in; love at first hearing: the "fusion" worked. And, as Jon's cha-cha-chaas yielded to the final, blistering synth solo - Moraz's swooping shrieks over the stupendous Chris Squire's thudding, articulate counterpoint - I knew that, not only were Yes back; but they were back in the best mode I'd ever heard them.
As other reviewers have pointed out, even the greyer artwork chimed in with Relayer's rawer, less sentimental working out of the promise of Close to the Edge; not just in Sound Chaser but, of course, in the belligerently lyrical, violently celestial masterpiece that is The Gates of Delirium.
It didn't last. The anti-prog vandals, along with the fall-out from Tales, had already put paid to the genre. And there was a real sense that even Yes couldn't replicate the divine "one-off" that is Relayer. For anyone who wants to know where Yes could have gone with their musicianship, creativity and tight dynamic: actually, this is it, they got there - Relayer.
on 3 September 2003
Conventional wisdom has it that after making essential albums the Yes Album, Fragile and Close to the Edge the band went down a dead of longer and more pretentious work and/or reruns of the work from these three great albums. If any post 1972 album comprehensively blows this theory out of the water then it is this album. This is IMHO one of the best Yes albums and one of the best records of the seventies. Here's why - the album breaks a lot of ground by integrating Patrick Moraz's jazz fusion and avant garde influences into their sound and rhythmically is one of their most adventurous albums. Unlike a lot of other Yes records the music and lyrics are quite dark, particularly on The Gates of Delirum and Sound Chaser. The former is a twenty minute piece that goes through a number of changes in order to describe the effects of a war. (Apparently the original inspiration was War and Peace). The latter features mind bogglingly complex bass playing from Chris Squire, absolutely mad tempo, key and chord changes and the most aggressive guitar playing from Steve Howe that I've ever heard. Taken together these two tracks might well redefine your concept of Yes. The last track is the mellow To Be Over which is perhaps a bit closer to what people normally associate with Yes. It's a great way to close the album. This reissue comes with abbreviated versions of Gates and Sound Chaser and then a rough version of Gates which is significantly different to the final version and is terrific. To sum up if you're at all interested in experimental or progressive rock you should have this - its essential listening!
on 23 February 2012
Though they would have been forgiven if they had needed several years to recharge after the achievement of their previous effort, 'Tales From Topographic Oceans', Yes returned in 1974 with 'Relayer'. For this turbo-charged album the five-piece channel hard rock, folk, electronic, classical, blues and jazz elements in a concoction not heard before and never heard again, complete with an unabashed science-fiction/fantasy flavour, poetic lyrics and fierce musical dexterity. Taking the theme of sending or embodying a message of great importance - 'relaying' - this is probably their heaviest and most energetic work, clearly showing the influence that progressive contemporaries such as King Crimson and Mahavishnu Orchestra had on the members of the band at the time. Nevertheless, the classic Yes optimism is present and as distinctive and refreshing as ever, delivering the three new tracks with sincerity and musicianship a cut above even the bands mentioned. The contribution of new keyboardist Patrick Moraz also adds a new dimension of bright, futuristic synthesizer tones throughout, and his inspired fusion-like soloing is a key factor of this album's uniqueness in the Yes discography. Arguably, 'Relayer' represents the band at the very peak of their creative output, with all five musicians putting in remarkable performances for the duration, and each voice knitting together effortlessly.
'The Gates Of Delirium' opens with the group already in full swing, as fluttering synthesizers, strummed bass guitar harmonics and freeform electric guitar melodies combine to create an impression of the comings and goings in a grand, airy city of some glorious civilisation. This scene unfolds very naturally, the band occasionally joining forces to introduce the regal, fanfare-like themes that will feature later in the track, and culminates in a staccato phrase played in unison which decelerates elegantly within each bar - a real statement of extravagance. There is a martial order and confidence to the music, suggesting an attitude of honoured duty - even romanticism - towards a coming conflict revealed through the first lyrics sung by Jon Anderson.
From the 3.00 mark, things subtly start to move in a more aggressive and fanatical direction as the band swing ominously to and from a minor third, and the fighting words are strung together with more ardour and urgency. Of particular note here is the colourful counterpoint provided by Chris Squire's bass lines, very rarely acting as a mere highlighter but instead adding a whole other dimension of melody to the proceedings - one breathtaking example being the selection of notes that dance beneath the otherwise simple guitar/synth line at 3.19. Next, one of the track's more beautiful contrasts appears, in the form of a quieter break where the narrating faction consider the heavy costs of the war, and very nearly repent. For me, the chant-like meter and placement of this solemn bridge as part of the larger piece captures well the intriguing atmosphere of fateful decisions made in dark halls.
This opportunity is quickly lost, however, as suspicion and prideful vengeance re-ignite the lust for war, and after one further verse of incitation the band launch into three consecutive instrumental phases depicting the chaos of the battlefield. With strong, strident rhythms driving each stage, the scene is discordant yet methodical, at times utterly frenzied and other times building steadily in triumph. The constant din of a crowd in the background, and the inclusion of feral wailing, buzzing machinery and crashes of metal, help to place the listener at the very heart of this darkest of human situations. Steve Howe's slide steel guitar is particularly effective during the final push, where the melody rises and rises to a point of almost unbearable tension before dissipating in a staggered moment of realisation and exhaustion.
What emerges slowly through the settling dust is perhaps the single most life-affirming passage of music in progressive rock. As an excerpt that came to be known in isolation as 'Soon', it is still effective, but when heard in context - lifting away the weight of all the doubt and violence that has gone before - it is profoundly moving. Anderson's lyrics characterise light as not only the peaceful dawn after the dark night of war, not only ascent out of despair, but as life itself: created from light, crafting light, and belonging to the world of light. The very definition of epic, truly heartfelt vocals drift on a sea of more yearning steel guitar, impeccably-placed bass notes, and layers of mellotron strings. This soaring finale renders the events up to this point as almost a distant memory to which we are looking back - a page of history we do not forget but have accepted and overcome - the last few quiet, uncertain chords leaving the story as a monument looming in the mists of time.
In the second piece, 'Sound Chaser', the more complex moments glimpsed briefly in 'The Gates Of Delirium' are harnessed and expanded into one of Yes' most rhythmically adventurous works. Loud, cerebral, and lyrically far more abstract than the first track, the aim here seems to have been to capture a sense of boundless energy and creative force in musical form, and in doing so celebrate our relationship with sound, technology, artistic liberty, as well as how all this connects us to one another - 'as is my want, I only reach to look in your eyes'. Cementing Steve Howe's virtuosity as one of the defining elements of 'Relayer', the middle third of this piece is a stunning electric guitar solo, a raw fusion of stream-of-consciousness phrases, hinting and probing with a biting blues tone, which is gradually joined by keyboards and then Anderson's soft words in a short period of reflection amidst the excitement.
'To Be Over', the third and final piece, opens somewhat mercifully in much gentler terrain, as the steel guitar returns and along with organ and sitar-like guitar weaves a cyclical, laid back melody evoking a contented and summery atmosphere. This moves softly into the first song section, where words of reassurance sung in cascading harmony reinforce the sense of peace. A motif of the album, the underlying rhythm is very simple but again marked out and interlocked with more interestingly placed bass, making the musical foundation seem alive and less passive throughout. We then open into some sublime instrumental passages, with lead guitar once again stealing the show for two solo spots (plus a joyous duet with Patrick Moraz's synth later) as the positivity is set free, still passionate but more serene in contrast to 'Sound Chaser'. From here until the close of the album, including two further blissfully emotional vocal sections, it feels like the music is always climbing and repeatedly resolving, moving forward and taking changes in its stride. In this way, 'to be over' could be interpreted to mean 'to be complete, to be whole'; again an expression by the band of a state of stability, preparedness for the future with the worst behind us.
Welcome to 'Relayer', another astonishing album that could only have happened in the creative climate of the mid-'70s. This isn't music to pass the time - disarm, engage your imagination, approach as you would a classic of epic poetry, and allow yourself to be overwhelmed.
on 15 July 2008
According to Homer Simpson, rock attained perfection in 1974. If he needed material to back his case, he could have chosen none better than Relayer.
After Tales from Topographic Oceans, Rick Wakeman had left Yes and Patrick Moraz was called in as keyboardist. This, together with the fact that Steve Howe gave his arsenal of Gibson guitars a rest and decided to play a 1955 Telecaster throughout the entire album (apart from acoustic and pedal steel guitars), meant a whole new sound. Compared to Tales... Relayer has a devil-may-care attitude and it really suits Yes.
This attitude is revealed in all its glory on the opening track Gates of Delirium, which lasts 22 minutes. Especially the middle part may be described as delightfully frantic. It all ends with one of the most beautiful pieces in modern music, namely Soon.
The next track, Sound Chaser, to me has always been the top of the evolutionary scale of rock music. The complexity of the song writing, the rhythm changes, the outrageously gifted musicianship, the vocal harmonies (Jon and Chris have never sounded better), the keyboard solos, the bass riffs and Steve Howe's treatment of the Telecaster (don't think a Telecaster has ever sounded so raw). It all comes together on this track.
The last track on the original release is To Be Over. This is an extremely beautiful song with a slow build-up and a worthy finale to this magic album. The vocal harmonies are once again spot on and the keyboards go well together with Steve's playing.
I would recommend this album to anyone who enjoys challenging music, be it jazz or rock music. If you are looking for a guitar driven album, this, together with Yessongs, is the best available. I bought Relayer more than 30 years ago on vinyl and it remains as fresh today as it did back then. Yes went on to do great things after this release, but how I wish they had made just one more album with this line up.
on 22 September 2006
`Relayer' is perhaps Yes's most idiosyncratic album, and in some respects a return to form after their previous monster (or monstrous, depending on your point of view) work `Tales From Topographic Oceans'. Though the tracks on this album are long, sustained pieces in the typical Yes style, they are more coherent (and hence, perhaps, more digestible) than the 80-minute epic which was `Tales'; it's a more collaborative effort, and all band members make room for each other, not to mention sharing production duties with their regular man-on-the-desk Eddie Offord. He, often referred to as the sixth member of the band, really pushes the boundaries with this album, giving surprising twists to every sound coming from instruments and voices; and adding to the novelty is Yes's replacement for keyboard legend Rick Wakeman, Patrick Moraz, who brings a very European, jazz-funk influence to the mix.
There are three tracks: `The Gates of Delirium' (catchy!), coming in at around 22 minutes, is the chiefest and longest; based somewhat on `War & Peace' (don't yawn now), it is a pretty successful programmatic work, encompassing a call to battle, a furious cavalry charge and fight, a triumphal retreat and a final appeal for peace as the dust settles on the battlefield. This is the first of Yes's studio albums where drummer Alan White really unleashes the big guns, and on this track he drives the whole gargantuan machine almost single-handedly. Even singer Jon Anderson's lyrics, though they do stray close to hippy-twee in the quieter moments, are generally harder-edged and less spacey than one might have come to suspect. `Sound Chaser' is a sometimes frantic, oddly-time-signatured piece with stand-out flourishes from all band members: Moraz's jazzy electric piano, bassist Chris Squire's scorching efforts to out-Jaco-Pastorius Jaco Pastorius, and a crazy Fender Telecaster cadenza from guitarist Steve Howe. `To Be Over' is a far gentler affair, in many ways a guitar suite arranged by the band. Of itself it's not so bad, but to the 21st Century listener, its clean, major-key, rock-ballad styling and rather bucolic, hippy lyrics bring the whole song rather too close to cheesy.
The bonus tracks will be of interest to the Yes-fan, but are throwaways to probably everyone else. Yet, this is a good album to listen to: if Yes had always been seen as proponents of orchestral scope within rock music, here they achieve another direction again by pushing the envelope with urban, skeletally electronic sounds and flavours. You won't hear another album like it, and there's enough in there for the metal-head, the classical music student, and the fusion-freak alike to get their teeth into.
on 5 April 2007
This is another album I brought as a youngster in the 1970's and which I still play today, in fact it spends a lot of time in my car's CD changer. When I hear this I feel 15 again and ready to take on the world
The reason for this is itself simple namely that musically it is a tour de force with all the members hitting peak form at the same time from Jon Anderson's ethereal voice to the jazz rock drumming of Alan White, Chris Squire's peerless bass playing, Steve Howe's exemplary guitar work and finally but not least Patrick Moraz's keyboard skills.
The latter gives this album a much jazzier feel than when Rick Wakeman was in the band and given that when he came back Yes started to fall apart one must ask why was Moraz sacrificed when they were onto a more complex sound. I think we would have seen a more inventive Yes if he would have been kept for another couple of albums.
The main tracks have been well documented but my favourite parts are the ballad "Soon" at the end of "The Gates of Delirium" and "To be Over"
on 30 November 2000
Still smarting from the mauling they got over 'Tales...' and the departure of Rick Wakeman, you would have thought Yes would tone things down a bit. Thankfully not !!
Where 'Tales...' was thoughtful and airy, 'Relayer' is brash, noisy and simply superb.
'The Gates Of Delirium' even though over 20 minutes long contains some of the most innovative music I think Yes have committed to vinyl (or CD for that matter). The addition of Pat Moraz on keyboards definitely alters the Yes sound to a more manic jazz fusion with speeding runs on bass, guitar and keyboards. I suppose 'Gates..' is the nearest Yes ever came to heavy metal !!
Moraz's keyboard flurry before and during the 'battle' sequence knocks my socks off still. It just bounds along with a force and energy that makes you want to put it all the way up to 11 !
The soothing coda of 'Soon' is the perfect ending to a masterpiece.
Then it's straight into the lunatic blast that's 'Sound Chaser'. Again, it's the jazz elements that predominate, adding a colour to Yes's sound that existed for this album alone.
Finishing off with 'To Be Over' which is more in line with the Yes of earlier albums. What a sweet piece of music. Steve's pedal steel guitar gives a slight country flavour to a soft and thoughtful lyric from Jon. This progresses to a widescreen finale with an almost indiscernible but still wonderful bass line from Chris.
In conclusion, this album has, I think, finally achieved the recognition it deserves among fans judging by the reception 'Gates..' received on the 2000 Masterworks tour.
What a simply great record.
on 14 January 2012
Who has the right to say (as does the reviewer on iTunes) that this has the most disappointing opening of any Yes album? Poppycock!! The Gates of Delirium - start to finish - to me stands as their greatest single work. Most of Yes' lyrics were non-sensical, whereas the anti-war message of this epic is very clear indeed. The various "movements" through which this piece takes the listener are easily understood and the frantic battle section makes me feel frightened, excited, sad, breathless and dumbstruck at the sheer scope of musicianship required to put such a "suite" together.
I'm a huge Floyd fan and never cared much for Jon Anderson's voice, but Floyd never even approached the complexity of "Gates". Even Yes' own "Close to the Edge" to me sounds quite dull by comparison. Once you get to the end of the "battle" segment of "Gates", the sublimeness of Patrick Moraz's keyboards during the closing "Soon" section are extremely moving and bring all kinds of emotions out in me. Even after all these years, I listen to this on my iPod and am dumbstruck with awe. There never was a classical composer who produced anything better than this band on this album, especially on "The Gates of Delirium".