Relayer

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Relayer
Studio album by Yes
Released 28 November 1974 (UK)
5 December 1974 (US)[nb 1]
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 November 1974 on Atlantic Records. It is their only studio album recorded with keyboardist Patrick Moraz in the band's line-up; he joined in August that year after Rick Wakeman left over differences regarding Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973) to pursue his solo career.

Formed of three tracks, Relayer saw Yes experiment with jazz fusion elements as evident in "The Gates of Delirium" and "Sound Chaser". The album closes with "To Be Over", a melodic composition.

Relayer was mostly well-received with music critics and its commercial success continued the band's popularity in the 1970s. The album peaked at number 4 in the UK and number 5 in the US. 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]

Yes released their ambitious double album Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973) which keyboardist Rick Wakeman felt was the wrong direction for the band to take. Following the conclusion of their 1973–74 tour of Europe and North America, Wakeman left in May 1974. Yes auditioned several replacements with the closest being Greek musician Vangelis Papathanassiou. As Phil Carson of Atlantic Records later explained, "He came to London and tried out Yes but it didn't really gel. One of the problems was Vangelis wouldn't get on a plane and wouldn't fly anywhere and Yes were about to go on tour."[1] At the suggestion of music journalist and author Chris Welch, the band settled for Swiss-born Patrick Moraz of Refugee and Mainhorse.[2] Moraz joined in August 1974[3] during the early sessions for Relayer. The line-up during this time included singer Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Steve Howe, and drummer Alan White.

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 in London. Eddy Offord assumed his role as the band's engineer who shared production duties with the group's members.[4] Offord set up a mobile studio in Squire's home.

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.[5] This contributes to the dense, concrete music-like sound of "The Gates of Delirium".

According to Anderson, the band wrote two additional tracks but did not have enough time to record them. One of them were described as "absolutely crazy and intricate."[6]

Composition[edit]

Relayer has a similar format as Close to the Edge (1972), with one track occupying the side one and two tracks situated on side two. The album opens with "The Gates of Delirium", a 22-minute track that Anderson described as "a war song, a battle scene, but it's not to explain war or denounce it, really."[6] It is loosely inspired by Leo Tolstoy's novel War and Peace. Its lyrics cover the futility of war, and the instrumental section in the middle portrays a battle scene with galloping rhythms, martial melodies, dissonant harmonies, and clashing sound effects. The track concludes with a gentle melody and a lyrical prayer for peace which later became known as "Soon".

Dean's painting titled Happy Birthday is featured inside the CD booklet.

Side two opens with "Sound Chaser", a mostly instrumental piece that displays jazz fusion, experimental rock, and funk influences. The album closes with "To Be Over" which features complex, melodic arrangements of guitar and electric sitar and relatively straightforward lyrics. Anderson described the track as "strong in content, but mellow in overall attitude. ... It's about how you should look after yourself when things go wrong."[6]

All the guitars used on "The Gates of Delirium" are Telecasters, according to Howe;[7] 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.[8] Squire uses a Fender bass on "To Be Over" rather than his usual Rickenbacker.

Sleeve design[edit]

The album's sleeve was designed and illustrated by English artist Roger Dean, who had designed artwork for the band since 1971. Speaking about the cover in 2004, 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."[9] The sleeve includes an untitled poem by writer Donald Lehmkuhl dated October 1974.[nb 2] The album's CD reissue features two additional paintings by Dean.

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 that year.[nb 1] The album continued the band's commercial success in the 1970s; 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 on 8 January 1975 with "Sound Chaser" on the B-side.[nb 3] The album is certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[10]

Relayer received a mostly positive reaction from music critics. Music journalist and author Chris Welch gave a positive review for Melody Maker, praising the album as "one of the most successful and satisfying Yes albums". He described "The Gates of Delirium" as a "powerful piece ... and benefits by the time strictures imposed by this single album." Welch continued to note the band "at their best, creating tension and release with consummate ease, and preparing the way for Jon's crystalline vocals" at the end of the battle section which segues into "Soon".[11] In its December 1974 review, Billboard magazine called Relayer "another nearly flawless effort" by Yes and noted Moraz "fits in perfectly". It concluded with "oof the simpler, yet at the same time, one of the most workable sets the band has come up with."[12] 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.[13]

In a retrospective review for Allmusic, William Ruhlmann rated the album three starts out of five. He thought since Yes had "little incentive to curb their musical ambitiousness" at the time, the album "alternated abrasive, rhythmically dense instrumental sections featuring solos for the various instruments with delicate vocal and choral sections featuring poetic lyrics devoted to spiritual imagery."[10]

Reissues[edit]

Relayer was first reissued on CD in Europe[nb 4] and the US[nb 5] in 1988 by Sterling Sound. In 2003, the album was digitally remastered on Rhino and Elektra Records which included single edits of "Soon" and "Sound Chaser" and a studio run-through of "The Gates of Delirium"[nb 1] with less keyboards and alternate song structures in parts but an identical "battle" section as heard in the final version. 2009 saw the album remastered by Isao Kikuchi for the Japanese market.[nb 6] The 2003 remastered edition was included in the band's The Studio Albums 1969–1987 box set, released in 2013.

In November 2014, Relayer will be reissued as CD/DVD-Audio and CD/Blu-ray Disc packs on the Panegyric label with new stereo and 5.1 surround sound mixes by Steven Wilson. The packs will feature bonus tracks including a original master transfer and studio run-through versions of each track. The Blu-ray Disc will include an instrumental mix of the album. This will be the third Yes album reissued by Panegyric following Close to the Edge (1972) and The Yes Album (1971).

Sales chart performance[edit]

Album

Year Chart Position
1975 Billboard Pop Albums 5[14]
1975 UK Albums Chart 4[15]
1975 Norwegian Albums Chart 18[16]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written and arranged by Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White and Patrick Moraz.[nb 2]

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "The Gates of Delirium"   21:55
Side two
No. Title Length
1. "Sound Chaser"   9:25
2. "To Be Over"   9:06
2003 CD bonus tracks
No. Title Length
4. "Soon (Single Edit)"   4:18
5. "Sound Chaser (Single Edit)"   3:13
6. "The Gates of Delirium (Studio Run-Through)"   21:16

Track durations are absent on the original UK vinyl[nb 2] but were included on the original US edition.[nb 7]

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]

Notes
  1. ^ a b c Rhino R2-73792
  2. ^ a b c Atlantic K 50096
  3. ^ Atlantic 45-3242
  4. ^ Atlantic 250 096
  5. ^ Atlantic 82664
  6. ^ Rhino WPCR-75500
  7. ^ Atlantic SD 18122
Footnotes
  1. ^ Welch, p. 152.
  2. ^ Welch, p. 151.
  3. ^ "News Briefs". Billboard. 31 August 1974. 
  4. ^ "Production credits". www.discogs.com. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  5. ^ "Interview with Eddy Offord by Time Morse". Retrieved 27 November 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c Demorest, Stephen (February 1975). "Yes Battles The Skeptics With 'Relayer'". Circus. 
  7. ^ The Steve Howe Guitar Collection, 1994, p. 43
  8. ^ The Steve Howe Guitar Collection, 1994, p. 47
  9. ^ Rowe, Jeri (23 April 2004). "Roger Dean: The artist behind the music". Greensboro News-Record. 
  10. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. Album review Yes Relayer at AllMusic. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  11. ^ Welch, Chris (1974). "YES - Art Out of Electronic Orchestration". Melody Maker. 
  12. ^ "YES-Relayer". Billboard. 21 December 1974. 
  13. ^ "Top Pop Albums 1955–2001", Joel Whitburn, c.2002
  14. ^ Billboard album charts info – Yes Relayer at AllMusic. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  15. ^ "UK chart history – Yes Relayer". www.chartstats.com. Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  16. ^ "Yes – Relayer". Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
Bibliography