|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|
|Producer||Yes, Eddy Offord|
|Singles from Relayer|
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.
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.
In May 1974, after touring in support of their ambitious double album Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973) ended, keyboardist Rick Wakeman decided to leave Yes as he could not understand its concept and disagreed with the musical direction the band took. The band's line-up during this time included singer Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Steve Howe, and drummer Alan White.
While the band started writing and rehearsing for their next album, several keyboardists were auditioned with the closest being Greek musician Vangelis. As Phil Carson of Atlantic Records later explained, "He came to London and tried out Yes but it didn't really gel ... Vangelis wouldn't get on a plane and wouldn't fly anywhere and Yes were about to go on tour." At the suggestion of music journalist and author Chris Welch, the band settled for Swiss-born Patrick Moraz of Refugee and Mainhorse. Moraz joined in August 1974 during the early sessions for Relayer.
Recording and composition
Relayer was recorded at Squire's home in Virginia Water, Surrey between August and October 1974. Eddy Offord assumed his role as the band's engineer who shared production duties with the group's members. Squire converted his garage into a studio and Offord moved his recording equipment in. The album was then mixed at Advision Studios in London.
Howe described the music on Relayer as "very modern, European style of music, and Patrick brought in a South American flavour as well. It was a very international record". Squire thought some of the interaction between his bass and White's drums was better than anything heard on previous Yes albums at that point. Moraz summarised the album's recording as "pretty loose, but the energy is there".
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. According to Anderson, the band wrote two additional tracks but did not have enough time to record them. One of them was described as "absolutely crazy and intricate." Moraz uses a number of keyboards that are not found on other Yes albums, including a custom built Vako Orchestron, a polyphonic synthesizer.
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 ... There's a prelude, a charge, a victory tune, and peace at the end, with hope for the future." It is loosely inspired by Leo Tolstoy's novel War and Peace. Anderson and White stopped by a scrap yard and bought metal car parts which were used as percussion during the song's battle section. The track concludes with a gentle melody and a lyrical prayer for peace which later became known as "Soon".
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." When the song's lyrics were being written, Howe suggested to have the line "She won't know what it means to me" follow "We go sailing down the calming streams" but Anderson changed it to "To be over we will see", a change that Howe thought was "creatively disguised" into a broader lyrical statement. With little space to improvise on the song for Moraz, he wrote a counterpoint solo "exactly like a classical fugue" on paper which took several hours in order to blend with the song's guitar and bass parts.
All the guitars used on "The Gates of Delirium" are Telecasters, according to Howe; 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. Squire uses a Fender bass on "To Be Over" rather than his usual Rickenbacker.
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." The images depicted in many of Dean's album covers set an otherworldly tone and are an identifiable part of the band's visual style. For Relayer, the warriors on horseback reflect the lyrical themes of war present in "The Gates of Delirium". 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.
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 an edited version of "Sound Chaser" on the B-side.[nb 3] The album is certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.
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". In its December 1974 review, Billboard magazine called Relayer "another nearly flawless effort" by Yes and noted Moraz "fits in perfectly". It concluded with "one of the simpler, yet at the same time, one of the most workable sets the band has come up with." 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.
In a retrospective review for Allmusic, William Ruhlmann rated the album three stars 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."
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 was 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 feature bonus tracks including an original master transfer and studio run-through versions of each track. The Blu-ray Disc include an instrumental mix of the album. This is the third Yes album reissued by Panegyric following Close to the Edge (1972) and The Yes Album (1971).
|1.||"The Gates of Delirium"||21:55|
|2.||"To Be Over"||9:06|
|2003 CD bonus tracks|
|4.||"Soon (Single Edit)" (Anderson)||4:18|
|5.||"Sound Chaser (Single Edit)"||3:13|
|6.||"The Gates of Delirium (Studio Run-Through)"||21:16|
- Jon Anderson – lead vocals
- Steve Howe – acoustic and electric guitars, vocals
- Patrick Moraz – keyboards
- Chris Squire – bass guitar and vocals
- Alan White – drums, percussion
- Additional personnel
- Eddie Offord – engineer, production
- Gennaro Rippo – tape operator
- Roger Dean – sleeve design and illustration
- Brian Lane – co-ordinator (band manager)
- Jean Ristori – photography
- Rhino R2-73792
- Atlantic K 50096
- Atlantic 45-3242
- Atlantic 250 096
- Atlantic 82664
- Rhino WPCR-75500
- Atlantic SD 18122
- Welch, p. 152.
- Welch, p. 151.
- "News Briefs". Billboard. 31 August 1974.
- "Production credits". www.discogs.com. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
- Morse, p. 50.
- Morse, p. 52.
- Demorest, Stephen (February 1975). "Yes Battles The Skeptics With 'Relayer'". Circus.
- "Interview with Eddy Offord by Time Morse". Retrieved 27 November 2012.
- Morse, p. 54.
- The Steve Howe Guitar Collection, 1994, p. 43
- The Steve Howe Guitar Collection, 1994, p. 47
- Rowe, Jeri (23 April 2004). "Roger Dean: The artist behind the music". Greensboro News-Record.
- Martin, pp. 163-164.
- "UK chart history – Yes Relayer". www.chartstats.com. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
- Billboard album charts info – Yes Relayer at AllMusic. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
- "Searchable Database". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2009-05-20. Note: User must define 'Artist' search parameter as "YES".
- Ruhlmann, William. Album review Yes Relayer at AllMusic. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
- Dahlen, Chris; Leone, Dominique; Tangari, Joe (8 February 2004). "Pitchfork: Album Reviews: Yes: The Yes Album / Fragile / Close to the Edge / Tales from Topographic Oceans / Relayer / Going for the One / Tormato / Drama / 90125". pitchfork.com. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
- Welch, Chris (1974). "YES - Art Out of Electronic Orchestration". Melody Maker.
- "YES-Relayer". Billboard. 21 December 1974.
- "Top Pop Albums 1955–2001", Joel Whitburn, c.2002