Yes - Relayer

Yes - Relayer

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Yes - Relayer
Relayer front cover.jpg
Studio album by Yes
Released 28 November 1974 (UK)
5 December 1974 (US)
Recorded August–October 1974
Studio New Pipers, Virginia Water, Surrey, England
Genre Progressive rock, jazz fusion
Length 40:31
Label Atlantic
  • Eddy Offord
Yes chronology
Tales from Topographic Oceans
Going for the One
Singles from Relayer
  1. "Soon" (From "The Gates of Delirium")"
    Released: 8 January 1975


  "Relayer" is the seventh Studio album from the English progressive rock band Yes, released on 28 November 1974 in the United Kingdom and 5 December 1974 in the United States by Atlantic Records. Following the departure of keyboardist Rick Wakeman, the group recruited Swiss player Patrick Moraz as his replacement in August 1974 and recorded the album in bassist Chris Squire's home in Virginia Water, Surrey. Similar to their 1972 album "Close to the Edge", the album includes a side-long track, "The Gates of Delirium", and two on the second side, "Sound Chaser" and "To Be Over". The album saw Yes venture into elements of jazz fusion.

Relayer received a mixed to positive reception from contemporary and retrospective critics. It reached number 4 on the UK Albums Chart and number 5 on the Billboard 200 in the US. The album's single, an edit of the closing section of "The Gates of Delirium" titled "Soon", was released in January 1975. Relayer continued to sell, and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for sales over 500,000 copies in the US. The album was remastered in 2003 and in 2014, both with previously unreleased tracks; the latter includes new stereo and 5.1 surround sound mixes and additional tracks.



In May 1974, after the Tales From Topographic Oceans tour 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 "Relayer", several keyboardists were auditioned including 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 Welsh, the band invited Swiss-born Patrick Moraz of Refugee to a try out session at Squire's home in August 1974. Moraz used Vangelis's keyboards for his first session. The band liked what he did, and Moraz subsequently joined full-time.



Howe's main guitar on Relayer is a 1955 Fender Telecaster which marked a departure from his usual Gibson ES-175.


"Relayer" was recorded between August and October 1974 at New Pipers, Squire's then home in Virginia water, Surrey that he bought in 1972. This marked the first time Yes had recorded a studio album outside London. Eddy Offord assumed his role as the band's engineer and moved his recording equipment into the garage to make a temporary studio. The album's production duties were shared among Offord and the group. The album was then mixed at Advision studios in London.

Relayer has a similar format to "Close to the Edge", 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."

Howe uses a 1955 Fender Telecaster on "Relayer", marking a departure from his Gibson ES-175 that he had used since "The Yes Album". He also uses a pedal steel guitar on "The Gates of Delirium" and "To Be Over". A pedal steel guitar is also used in certain parts of "Sound Chaser", as seen in live footage. Squire uses a Fender bass guitar on "To Be Over". Moraz uses a number of keyboards that are not found on other Yes albums, including a custom built Vako Orchestron, a polyphonic synthesizer.


"The Gates of Delirium" is 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." Moraz recalled discussing War and Peace and Leo Tolstoy with Anderson as they both read the book, after which Moraz showed Anderson a French science fiction comic book with "Delirius" in the title. Moraz said, "he related to it immediately so I think that perhaps as a title 'The Gates of Delirium' came from that". Anderson and White stopped by a scrap yard and bought metal car parts which were used as percussion during the song's battle section. During the battle section, White formed a tower of the parts and pushed it over to make a crashing sound. The track concludes with a gentle melody and a lyrical prayer for peace which later became known as "Soon".

"Sound Chaser" displays Yes' experiment with jazz fusion and funk influences. During Moraz's audition session with the band, he was asked to play an introduction to the song which ended up on the album. He has called his Moog synthesizer solo at the end of the track a highlight moment but felt the keyboards on the rest of the album buried in the final mix.

"To Be Over" originated in an afternoon that Anderson spent at Howe's house in London. As the two discussed what music to prepare for the album, Anderson told Howe his fondness of a melody Howe had written and had sung to Anderson before, of which he also had the initial lyric: "We'll go sailing down the stream tomorrow, floating down the universal stream, to be over". Howe gained inspiration for the track from a boat ride on The Serpentine lake in Hyde Park in London. From the beginning, he thought the song was "really special" and Anderson agreed to develop it further, describing 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 finalised, 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" to make a broader lyrical statement. Moraz felt constricted to perform an improvised keyboard solo for the song, so he wrote down a counterpoint solo "exactly like a classical fugue" to blend his keyboards with the guitar and bass.

Sleeve design

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.


Relayer was released in the UK on 28 November 1974 during their 1974-1975 tour of North America and the UK. Its U.S. release followed on 5 December that year. The album continued the band's commercial success in the 1970s; it peaked at number 4 in the UK and number 5 on the U.S. 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. The album is certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars
Pitchfork 5.3/10

"Relayer" received a mostly positive reaction from music critics. Music journalist and author Chris Welsh 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 structures 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."

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".


Track listing


All tracks written and arranged Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White and Patrick moraz, except where noted.

Produced by Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White, Patrick Moraz, and Eddie offord.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "The Gates of Delirium"   21:55
Side two
No. Title Length
1. "Sound Chaser"   9:25
2. "To Be Over"   9:06

Track durations are absent on the original UK vinyl but were included on the original U.S. edition.


  • Jon Anderson – lead vocals
  • Steve Howe – acoustic and electric guitars, vocals
  • Patrick Moraz – keyboards
  • Chris Squire – bass guitar, vocals
  • Alan White – drums, percussion
  • Eddie Offord – engineer, production
  • Gennaro Rippo – tape operator
  • Roger Dean – sleeve design and illustration
  • Brain Lane – co-ordinator (band manager)
  • Jean Ristori – photography



Yes - Relayer

UK Atlantic K 50096 stereo (1974).

Album produced by Eddy Offord.

The vinyl record attains a strong excellent grading, suggesting few plays.

Audio quality is very clear and strong throughout.

Both record centre labels are clean and unmarked.

The albums hinged cover is in excellent condition, displaying only minimal signs of wear.

The original printed inner sleeve is perfectly presented.

The album cover has a strong hinge and spine, displaying clear printed script.

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