Relayer (1974)

1. The Gates of Delerium 2. Sound Chaser 3. To Be Over


One of the many downfalls of releasing such a disastrous record as the band’s last album Tales of Topographic Oceans is that many people will never attempt to take you seriously again. In a strange way, Yes has never completely recovered from this blunder. So now, many years in the future, when one thinks of the band’s ‘glory years’, it tends to reflect everything that was released before that monstrosity. So when this record came out, less than a year after, people were still recovering from that unpleasant feeling. Glancing at the track listing probably didn’t help. O.K., we have three songs on the complete album as opposed to two. Or four since the last record was a double.

That’s really a bit of a disappointment because there are portions of this album that are quite good, and other portions that are outstanding, yet the bad taste in people’s mouths was still too strong. The side one epic (yep – one song takes up the whole side) The Gates of Delirium is one of the very best things that Yes has ever done. How do you describe a 22 minute Yes song? And what makes it different from other Yes songs of such length? Well, that’s a bit hard for me to put into words. The simplest, easiest way to describe it is “it sounds great”. The songs seems to be broken into three sections, the lyrics describing some sort of battle – or maybe an entire war. The first part of the song seems to be “tension filled”, the middle is much harder and faster – describing the battle no doubt, and the latter portion is the soothing aftermath of peace and hope. The middle part is stunning because it gives the band members the opportunity to show their instrumental prowess – in a very sped up fashion. The last part is much more melodic, and give singer Jon Anderson the ability to show off his beautiful voice. (This latter part would be released by itself as a single called Soon.) So Yes definitely seems to be back on the right track

Unfortunately, there’s also a side 2. The first song, which is only nine and one-half minutes long, is one of the low points in the band’s career, although I’m sure there are some that, for some strange reason, might like it. Sound Chaser sounds like Yes is trying to push the envelope and be experimental in the world of Jazz music. The opening instrumentation sounds like a jazz intro played by musicians on crack cocaine. And let’s not forget that these are Yes musicians, so the playing is immaculate, but the whole excursion sounds rather pointless. There are few sections of this song that sound o.k., but other parts of this track leads us to believe that the band is trying too hard to go into different directions, and it’s an overall obnoxious, loud, mess. It quite frankly gives me a headache.

The other nine-minute song To Be Over is a bit of a mixed bag. Most of this song really isn’t anything that special, but I confess that I rather enjoy the last few minutes of the song that seems to be a very beautiful way to close a piece, or a whole album. It’s a very gorgeous, celestial like few minutes with Steve Howe playing a very intricate lead guitar overdubbed with him experimenting as well with a (I think) Sitar. If not a Sitar, it’s a guitar of the Mid East caliber. Add some heavenly Jon Anderson vocals blended in with a fine music arrangement, and you have quite the piece. It’s a bit of a shame that this portion couldn’t have been rewritten and made its own song. It tends to get buried within this nine minute song, and its appeal is only apparent after a few listens.

I guess it should also be pointed out that they’re on their third keyboardist. Patrick Moraz is the guy that replaced the disgruntled Rick Wakeman, who couldn’t stand Tales of Topographical Oceans. (Surprised?) Apparently, Wakeman cooled off and got his old job back on the band’s next record. So Moraz would be unceremoniously kicked out and mostly becomes a footnote in the history of Yes musicians.

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