Episode 154 – Relayer revisited – Part 3

relayer
Vinyl purchased circa. 1988

The one hundred and fifty forth episode of the Yes Music Podcast featuring a fresh look at the 1974 studio album, Relayer. Part 3 is about the second and third tracks, Sound Chaser and To Be Over.

  • How do these two tracks compare with Gates of Delirium?
  • Is Patrick Moraz behind the jazz-fusion?
  • What has the baroque ‘Fugue’ technique got to do with this album?

Listen to the episode and then let me know if you agree.

Show links

Yes World Relayer page

Extract from the 2014 remix of Gates of Delirium

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Theme music

The music I use is the last movement of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. This has been used as introduction music at many Yes concerts. My theme music is not take from a live concert – I put it together from the following two creative commons sources: thanvannispen and archive.org
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Kevin

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8 thoughts on “Episode 154 – Relayer revisited – Part 3

  1. Hello Kevin great show as always ..
    I just checked out the Yes world Relayer page and I have to say I’m pretty geek’ed it appears that the blu ray edition will have the live version of Sound Chaser on it from Cobo hall from 1976 that my friend was my very first Yes Show I remember it like it was yesterday and that version of Sound Chaser was the most unbelievable I was only a mere 17 year old kid but was a Yes fanatic and I’m still am to this day !
    Can’t wait must have!

    P.S. I remember there was a microphone hanging right above where I was sitting I hope that it captured the real feel of that night I know Yesshows had a one or two tracks from that nights show.

    Cheers

    Paul Tomei

  2. I wonder why on the last two album oriented tours the band has decided against covering Relayer? Did they feel that it would’nt draw the fans in or is the band not as fond of it as other other material? As classic an album as Close to the Edge is I thought is was a bit repetative to cover it again on the Heaven and Earth tour.

    1. Dare I suggest that it’s more to do with the complexity and difficulty of the parts? Perhaps more than any other album, the keyboard parts in particular are almost impossible to separate from the artist who created them. They are a world away from Geoff Downes’ style – and that’s not meant as a criticism. Thanks for the comment, Chris.

  3. A few points that might be of interest.

    One things that’s been mentioned briefly is the sound of Howe’s guitar: a fender with a steely sound and very angular style, chopping and changing, particularly in Sound Chaser. I’d always thought it was part of the style Howe was experimenting with at the time, an attempt to get as far out as he could, and that had more to do with the free jazz of Derek Bailey than the fusion of the time. But it now sounds that this may have been encouraged by Anderson, and Howe wasn’t entirely happy with it, or at least didn’t want to play that way all the time. I’m afraid it had nothing to do with Punk, which didn’t arrive until 1976, some time after the album was recorded.

    I agree with the comments about Alan White, and that he really came into his own on this album. A lot of his playing on Topographic Oceans sounded like filler, and he really only hit his stride on Ritual.

    I heard – and taped – a BBC radio broadcast of Gates at the time of release. The BBC used to do a lot of this. I’d recorded the first two sides of Topographic Oceans in slightly different versions from what eventually appeared, so that when I saw Yes in Birmingham, England a few dates into the Topographic tour I was familiar with some of the music. Anyway, Rick Wakeman was in the studio, and after Gates was played he was asked to comment on it. He said that it was pretty much what he’d expected the band to do (so why leave?) and was held together with some wonderfully fishy bass lines. He felt that you knew that it would lead up to the Soon section, which sounded rather like “the Way We Were”, an observation made by a number of reviewers at the time.

    I was there at QPR in 1975. Yes played at the end of a day long festival, so there was no proper sound check, and it showed. The sound improved through their set, but it was never quite as bad as heard on the BBC footage, which has never been remixed. A pity, as it was a stonking performance.

    One thing you have to realise is the incredible speed at which things happened in those days, and the competiveness of it all. Everyone was trying to push back the boundaries and you couldn’t wait for another band to get ahead. Yes toured Topographic, got a new keyboard player, wrote and recorded Relayer, and toured that, all in an incredibly short space of time. It’s no wonder that with repeated cycles of such pressurised work the momentum and creativity couldn’t be sustained, and most bands simply burnt out, or had enough of each other and wanted to spend more time with their families. It’s a period in music that has never been recreated however, and still provides much fascination.

    1. Wow, thanks for the brilliant comment, Colin. Great point about Punk – you are of course correct. I did wonder about the date when I read that in one of the Yes books – nothing whatsoever to do with Punk which didn’t exist at the time.

      Fascinating to hear about the Howe Stratocaster – it makes a lot of sense particularly as it didn’t appear again a lot over the decades.

      I think I’ve heard that BBC recording of Gates but I’m in awe of your attendance at ‘that’ QPR concert. Of course, it may be so well-known simply because of the footage. What a shame there isn’t a brilliant, substantial recording of the Moraz line-up…Yesshows?

      Thanks for your comments about the context of those days – that’s really illuminating!

      1. Thanks Kevin.

        I was a really huge Yes fan in 1975, and got good seats at QPR as my family knew Seals & Crofts, who appeared on the bill that day. They’d stayed at our house and even given an impromptu gig one night. The night before they’d been on the Whistle Test, and told me they couldn’t hear a word “whispering” Bob Harris had said in his introduction!

        Seals & Crofts wanted to give Yes a gift as a thank you after the show – Brian lane had told them: “a book – these guys are always reading” – so I got to go backstage. All I can remember is smiling at Chris Squire, my hero and at the tender age of 17, being too dumbstruck to say anything. I also remember Mike Tait, the lighting engineer, walking about with two of the biggest fuses I’ve ever seen – industrial – one in each hand. I have to say that it’s a huge musical loss that Squire has recorded so little in other projects. I’d love to have heard him is some fusion.

        I agree about a live recording with Moraz. By the time they were recorded in Detroit in 1976, on Yesshows, they were an incredibly tight unit. My copy of the 2014 mix of Relayer came through from Amazon today, and the blu ray version has Sound Chaser live, but I think it’s the same as the one that appeared on the live compilation The Word is Live, which also had Khatru from the same gig. The live version of Sound Chaser is bursting with energy and even better than the studio version, particularly the final section that takes your breath away.

        As to the 2014 remix, it sounds superb. The sound has been opened up, which really benefits a slightly compressed recording, as most were back in the early 70s. The battle sequence in Gates particularly benefits from this. Also, Moraz’s keyboards seem to have been raised in the mix. You now get a good sense of his interplay with Howe,, and they seem lusher during Soon, though I’ve not done an A/B comparison. Worth a podcast to see if your recent views have changed after hearing the remix?

  4. I enjoyed this three episode examination of Relayer.

    Having got into Yes just after the release of ‘Tales’, it was the first new album for me. On first playing, I was disappointed by the frenetic style of the music. That initial feeling lasted only a couple of listens and from then on I have loved this album.
    I saw the tour two nights running in april 1975 at the City Hall, Newcastle. It was amazing. The stage set was out of this world, literally so, with great alien looking objects unfolding and tons of dry ice. I was away in Edinburgh when the QPR gig was on telly so I’ve never seen that. I remember being really fed up not to be able to get to a TV.

    Having listened to this trio of episodes, I feel that this album has been over analysed. Some of the writers quoted are full of themselves. This is Yes, not Shostakovich or Wagner. A lot of it is revisionist nonsense, epitomised by the comment that it was recorded during the time that Punk was becoming popular. Don’t these guys do their homework? Punk appeared about two or three years later! Punk was a reaction to overblown pop groups like Queen(sorry Kevin), nothing to do with Prog Rock which always ploughed a lone furrow. Yes lyrics were never meant to be taken literally as far as I was concerned. They were part of the tableau. The analysis of the cover seems to be OTT too.

    I look forward to getting the remix, the CD version was not very good.

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