Relayer

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Relayer
Studio album by Yes
Released 28 November 1974 (UK)
5 December 1974 (US)
Recorded August–October 1974 in Virginia Water, Surrey, UK
Genre Progressive rock, experimental rock, jazz fusion
Length 40:31
Label Atlantic
Producer Yes, Eddy Offord
Yes chronology
Tales from Topographic Oceans
(1973)
Relayer
(1974)
Going for the One
(1977)
Singles from Relayer
  1. "Soon (from "The Gates of Delirium")"
    Released: 8 January 1975

Relayer is the seventh studio album from the English progressive rock band Yes, released in 1974 on Atlantic Records. It is their only studio album recorded with keyboardist Patrick Moraz; he joined in August that year after Rick Wakeman left over differences with Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973) to pursue his solo career. Formed of three tracks, Relayer saw Yes experiment with jazz fusion as highlighted in "The Gates of Delirium" and "Sound Chaser". The album closes with "To Be Over", a melodic composition.

Upon its release Relayer continued the band's commercial success. The album peaked at number 4 in the UK and number 5 on the US Billboard Top LPs chart. The closing section of "The Gates of Delirium", titled "Soon", was released as a single in January 1975. The album is certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Background[edit]

Following the release of Yes's ambitious double album Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973), keyboardist Rick Wakeman decided to leave the band during their 1973–74 tour of Europe and North America. Following his departure in May 1974 Yes auditioned several replacements, the closest being Greek musician Vangelis Papathanassiou. At the suggestion of music journalist Chris Welch the band settled for Swiss-born Patrick Moraz, previously of Refugee and Mainhorse who joined in August 1974 while their new album entered production.

Production[edit]

Recording[edit]

Relayer was recorded at Squire's home in Virginia Water, Surrey between August and October 1974. It was then mixed at Advision Studios. Engineer Eddy Offord assumed his role who shared production duties with the band.[1]

The recording made use of synthesizers and percussive sounds not found on any other Yes album. Patrick Moraz used equipment which was still in prototype stage (for example, a Vako Orchestron, used for the string sounds throughout the album) to colour the sound effects on the instrumental/collage section of "The Gates of Delirium". For example, the whooping and wheezing sounds ("electric slinky") about midway through the track were created by one such synthesizer. Jon Anderson recalled (in the 2003 CD booklet) that he and Alan White would stop by a breaker's yard on the way to Squire's house and buy discarded metal parts (brakes, clutches etc.) which were to be used as percussion.[2] This contributes to the dense, concrete music-like sound of "Gates of Delirium".

Composition[edit]

Relayer has the same song format as 1972's Close to the Edge—a long epic on the first side, and two nine-minute pieces on the second—but employs a radically different musical style. "The Gates of Delirium" is a dense, 22-minute piece that was inspired by Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. It features lyrics about the futility of war and a lengthy instrumental middle section portraying 'battle' with galloping rhythms, martial melodies, dissonant harmonies, and clashing sound effects. The final section, in which the drive of the previous sixteen minutes is replaced by a gentle melody and a lyrical prayer for peace, was released as a US single under the title "Soon" in early 1975. "Sound Chaser" is a mostly instrumental piece that echoes the then-popular jazz fusion of Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return To Forever with experimental and for some moments even funk and disco shades and influences. "To Be Over" features complex, melodic arrangements of guitar and electric sitar (at one point quoting a theme from Tales from Topographic Oceans), and relatively straightforward lyrics.

All the guitars used on "The Gates of Delirium" are Telecasters, according to Howe;[3] prior to this recording he had generally used a Gibson. On "To Be Over" and the last parts of "The Gates of Delirium", a pedal steel guitar is used.[4] Squire uses a Fender bass on "To Be Over" rather than his usual Rickenbacker. Bill Martin (in his book The Music of Yes) recalled how, as a teenager, he saw the band performing live in Atlanta in late 1974. As they opened with "Sound Chaser", then still-unreleased and very unlike anything they had previously recorded, Martin's first thought was that the band had gone crazy.[5]

Sleeve design[edit]

As with most of Yes' previous albums, Relayer features artwork by Roger Dean. The CD release features two additional paintings by Dean. Speaking about the cover, Dean said: "I was playing with the ideas of the ultimate castle, the ultimate wall of a fortified city. That was more of a fantastical idea. I was looking for the kinds of things like the Knights Templar would have made or what you'd see in the current movie Lord of the Rings. The curving, swirling cantilevers right into space."[6]

Original artwork
Painting featured inside the CD booklet.
 
Happy Birthday, painting featured inside the CD booklet.
 

Release[edit]

Relayer was released in the UK on 28 November 1974 during their 1974–75 tour of North America and the UK. Its US release followed on 5 December 1974. The album continued the band's commercial success; it peaked at number 4 in the UK and number 5 on the US Billboard Top LPs chart. The closing section of "The Gates of Delirium", titled "Soon", was released as a single in January 1975. The album is certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

A special promotional only, white label, "banded for airplay" version of the LP was available to US radio stations in 1974. It has the track "The Gates of Delirium" broken into three segments: the opening vocal section, the instrumental "battle" middle section, and the "Soon" final section, with slight fades between each to aid with on-air segues. This was done to try to increase Relayer's radio exposure, as most radio stations would provide only limited, if any, air time to a 22-minute song.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[7]
Sputnik Music 4.5/5 stars[8]

Relayer received a mostly positive reaction from music critics. Music journalist and author Chris Welch, in his review for Melody Maker praised the album as "one of the most successful and satisfying Yes albums".[9] Those who gave the album a negative review thought it was the follow-up to Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973), an album they felt was pretentious and overblown.[10]

Reissues[edit]

Relayer was remastered and reissued on Rhino Records in 2003 with three bonus tracks, including a complete studio run-through of Gates of Delirium with partly different or improvised lyrics. While most of the keyboards are not yet present, and some of the structure of the song is different, the complex rhythm track for the "battle" section has the same layout as in the finished version. This was released again 10 years later (on 2 December internationally and 24 December in the US) as part of the box set The Studio Albums 1969-1987.

In October 2014, Relayer will be reissued as CD/DVD-Audio and CD/Blu-ray Disc packs on the Panegyric label, featuring a new stereo mix and 5.1 surround sound mix by Steven Wilson as well as bonus tracks and special features. This will be the third Panegyric Yes album reissue after Close to the Edge and The Yes Album.

Sales chart performance[edit]

Album

Year Chart Position
1975 Billboard Pop Albums 5[11]
1975 UK Albums Chart 4[12]
1975 Norwegian Albums Chart 18[13]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White and Patrick Moraz except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "The Gates of Delirium"   21:50
Side two
No. Title Length
1. "Sound Chaser"   9:26
2. "To Be Over"   9:06
Rhino 2003 reissue bonus tracks
No. Title Length
4. "Soon (Single Edit)" (Anderson) 4:18
5. "Sound Chaser (Single Edit)"   3:13
6. "The Gates of Delirium (Studio Run-Through)"   21:16

Personnel[edit]

Yes
Additional personnel
  • Eddy Offord – engineer, production
  • Gennaro Rippo – tapes
  • Roger Dean – sleeve design and illustration
  • Mansell Litho – plates design
  • Brian Lane – co-ordinator
  • Jean Ristori – photography

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Production credits". www.discogs.com. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  2. ^ "Interview with Eddy Offord by Time Morse". Retrieved 27 November 2012. 
  3. ^ The Steve Howe Guitar Collection, 1994, p. 43
  4. ^ The Steve Howe Guitar Collection, 1994, p. 47
  5. ^ Bill Martin, The Music of Yes. Open Court Books, Chicago IL, 1997
  6. ^ Rowe, Jeri (23 April 2004). "Roger Dean: The artist behind the music". Greensboro News-Record. 
  7. ^ Ruhlmann, William. Album review Yes Relayer at AllMusic. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  8. ^ http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/11160/Yes-Relayer/
  9. ^ Welch, Chris (1974). "YES - Art Out of Electronic Orchestration". Melody Maker. 
  10. ^ "Top Pop Albums 1955–2001", Joel Whitburn, c.2002
  11. ^ Billboard album charts info – Yes Relayer at AllMusic. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  12. ^ "UK chart history – Yes Relayer". www.chartstats.com. Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  13. ^ "Yes – Relayer". Retrieved 11 December 2013.