"Relay" (titled "The Relay" in the United States) is a song written by Pete Townshend, the guitarist of The Who, for the band's aborted Lifehouse project. The song was also released as a moderately successful single in 1972. It was also the last non-album single by The Who until "Real Good-Looking Boy", thirty-two years later.
"Relay" was originally written as part of the Lifehouse album, but the song was shelved with the rest of the album. In 1972, the song was resurrected to be used in Rock Is Dead - Long Live Rock!, another abandoned Who album that was to be released in 1972.
The song was recorded during the same sessions as "Join Together" and a demo of "Long Live Rock" in May 1972.
"Relay" was released as a single in late 1972, backed with the Keith Moon-penned track, "Waspman". The single charted in the Top 40 in both the UK and US, reaching #21 in the United Kingdom and #39 on the Billboard Hot 100 (and #33 on Cashbox). The single was the last of three singles relating to Lifehouse (but which did not appear on "Who's Next"), the others being "Let's See Action" and "Join Together".
Lead singer Rogar Daltrey spoke positively of the song, saying "I love 'Relay'". Pete Townshend, however, felt that it sounded too similar to the band's other releases. He said of this:
I've got to get a new act together for the Who... we've got to get something fresh.
— Pete Townshend, Melody Maker
Lyrics and music
"Relay" begins with a strong guitar line fed through the sample and hold-controlled VCF of an ARP-2600 synthesiser, which persists throughout the song. It also features an ordinary electric guitar and acoustic guitar. Intended to feature near the end of Lifehouse, "Relay" is thought to refer to the final setting up of and spreading the word about the Lifehouse concert. The fictional Relay bears strong similarities to the modern Internet, and as such in concerts in the 21st Century, Pete Townshend introduces the song as being about the Internet.
The Who - Relay / Waspman
UK Track 2094-106 (1972).
Record produced by The Who.
The vinyl record attains a strong excellent grading, suggesting few plays.
Audio quality is very clear and strong throughout.
The A side record centre label has a minor blemish left by a former sticker, (see scan).
The B side record centre label is clean and unmarked.
The record centre hole, displays no signs of spindle wear.
The record comes with a generic plain white paper sleeve.