Yes – Relayer Review
By Adam McCann
Elektra Records/Atlantic Records – 1974 – Progressive Rock
Although the initial reception to the bands previous album ‘Tales From the Topographic Oceans’ from 1973 had been warm, musically the band had reached saturation point with ‘Tales…’ being overblown, bloated and aimed almost entirely at a niche market. Due to this, keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman resigned from Yes, replacing him with Refugee keyboardist Patrick Moraz and the band locked themselves away to begin work on their follow up, ‘Relayer’ released in 1974.
For ‘Relayer’, Yes decided to scale back to the classic progressive rock standard, a side of vinyl filled with one song, whilst side two contained smaller tracks and for this album, it meant side one contained the intricate and complex ‘The Gates of Delirium’. Loosely based on ‘War and Peace’ by Leo Tolstoy, ‘The Gates of Delirium’ features multiple sections of battle, a triumph and the peace that falls after a battle with the opening track debatably becoming Yes’ last great epic track.
Unlike Wakeman, Moraz was a completely different player, an accomplished composer in both classical and jazz, the Swiss keyboardist brought a completely different sound to Yes that would take the band beyond their comfort zone in progressive rock and into the realms of Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return To Forever style jazz fusion. This can be seen clearly during ‘Sound Chaser’ in which the jazz fusion of Moraz juxtaposes perfectly with the light flamenco of Steve Howe’s guitar.
As intricate and grandiose as ‘Relayer’ is, it is a difficult album to ‘get’, ‘The Gates of Delirium’ is impressive and Jon Anderson’s fay vocals dart and dance around the mix beautifully. However, side two is rather dull, meandering slowly as it tries to shake off its bloated overblown progressive rock weight. There are better Yes albums, but ‘Relayer’ shows the band adapting to life with a new keyboardist, tackling a new album with the criticisms of their previous album still fresh in their mind and trying something a little new.
Rating : 73/100
MHF Magazine/Adam McCann