All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Rediscovery

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

31

Yes: Relayer

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Yes—RelayerYes
Relayer
Panegyric
2014 (1974)

Today's Rediscovery is an anomaly in the catalog of one of progressive rock's most innovative groups of the late 1960s/early '70s, and how better to experience it than with Steven Wilson's upgraded 2014 stereo (and 5.1 surround sound) remix, as the former Porcupine Tree frontman nears the release of his own Hand. Cannot. Erase. (Kscope, 2015).

But back to Relayer. Wilson has described Lizard (DGM Live, 1970)—the first of his run of King Crimson remixes, part of that group's ongoing 40th Anniversary Series—as "the album that stereo couldn't contain." The same might be said for Relayer, in particular its side-long opus, "The Gates of Delirium," quite possibly the densest and most complex piece of writing Yes has ever released, and certainly one of its most musically aggressive...and, ultimately, most beautiful.

While Wilson's remix of this 22-minute opus manages, as always, to reveal its multifaceted layers with greater clarity, it must have been something of a challenge; while drummer Alan White's playing on this track (along with the two other lengthy songs that made up side two of the original vinyl edition) is some of his absolute best with the group, the sound of his kit is marred by being boxy, his cymbals mushy. Progressive fans love to compare White to previous drummer, the sharp-snared and richly tuned drummer Bill Bruford, and there's good reason for it: Bruford was one of the significant components that gave the original Yes lineup its most unique complexion, along with bassist Chris Squire's at times thundering, at times grounded and at yet other times contrapuntally melodic bass playing; Jon Anderson's pure upper register voice; and the endlessly inventive Steve Howe—a guitar hero who, at the time, seemed literally capable of playing anything, and who was recruited after the summarily dismissed Peter Banks for The Yes Album (Atlantic, 1970), which Wilson also remixed for Panegyric in 2014.

But the fifth member of the classic Yes lineup, keyboardist Rick Wakeman, had left the band after touring the band's previous album, the four-part, 80+ minute Tales from Topographic Oceans (Atlantic, 1973), having been given far less freedom and input compared to the previous high watermark, Close to the Edge (Atlantic, 1972), which Wilson remixed, again for Panegyric, in 2013. Freelance scribe Sid Smith, in his revealing liner notes to Wilson's Relayer remix—which includes, in particular on the CD/Blu Ray edition, a variety of bonus features including single edits, studio run-through and live versions along with original mixes (including needle drops from original vinyl), instrumental versions and more—tells the story of how Patrick Moraz became Yes' third keyboardist (after Wakeman and founding member Tony Kaye) in something of a trial by fire.

After the Swiss keyboardist had set up at his first meeting with the group—"improvising, showing a bit of my speed and ability"—the band took him through the song portion of what would ultimately become the closest Yes ever got to jazz fusion, "Soundchaser," and Anderson asked him "what I might offer as an introduction to the piece?" As Moraz continues to recount in the liner, "I instantly played the theme as it appeared on the record"—and, as Smith describes, "everyone in the room was immediately galvanized by what they heard" and, after some discussion and multiple takes, as Moraz says, "we recorded the introduction in a take that was used on the finished album, before I was formally offered the job!"

Needless to say, Moraz got the job and, after delivering a Moog solo on the same song that stands as one of Yes' finest moments, finished the album and hit the road with the group. That he didn't last—Wakeman would return for Going for the One (Atlantic, 1977)—has long been one of the questions about where, with Moraz's more jazz-tinged approach, the group might have gone. We'll never know, and what is perhaps most remarkable is that "Soundchaser" is really his only main feature, though he does get a short solo on the album-closing "To Be Over."

The rest of the record is dominated by Howe who, by switching to a sharper and more suitably aggressive-toned Fender Telecaster for the album, did his part to change the group's complexion, even as Squire was also playing at the absolute top of his game and Anderson sang more passionately—and, lyrically, more directly—than ever before. An even more incendiary live version of "Gates of Delirium" on the 1980 live album Yesshows may be marred by a poor mix, but it features Anderson at his most powerful, even adding an appropriate harshness to his voice that might have been intentional or might have been the result of too many nights on the road...but remains a high performance point for the singer during Yes' best years.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Five Classic ECM Titles in High Res Rediscovery
Five Classic ECM Titles in High Res
by John Kelman
Published: January 31, 2017
Read Greg Lake & Keith Emerson: Their Best Work Together Rediscovery
Greg Lake & Keith Emerson: Their Best Work Together
by John Kelman
Published: December 31, 2016
Read Mark Isham: Blue Sun Rediscovery
Mark Isham: Blue Sun
by John Kelman
Published: August 24, 2016
Read Sweet Billy Pilgrim: We Just Did What Happened and No One Came [2016 Kscope Remix/Remaster] Rediscovery
Sweet Billy Pilgrim: We Just Did What Happened and No One...
by John Kelman
Published: July 31, 2016
Read Nils Petter Molvaer: Khmer Rediscovery
Nils Petter Molvaer: Khmer
by John Kelman
Published: February 23, 2016
Read Trio Sud: Young and Fine Rediscovery
Trio Sud: Young and Fine
by John Kelman
Published: February 2, 2016
Read "The Outstanding Contributions of Beryl Booker" Charts of Elegance The Outstanding Contributions of Beryl Booker
by Ava Louise
Published: March 7, 2018
Read "Holiday 2017 III - Popular" Bailey's Bundles Holiday 2017 III - Popular
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: December 9, 2017
Read "Hal Willner's Rock 'n' Rota" Interviews Hal Willner's Rock 'n' Rota
by Ludovico Granvassu
Published: July 26, 2018
Read "On Stage at JALC: Paul Jost" Profiles On Stage at JALC: Paul Jost
by Suzanne Lorge
Published: June 23, 2018
Read "Randy Weston Tribute & New Releases" Radio Randy Weston Tribute & New Releases
by Ludovico Granvassu
Published: September 11, 2018
Read "Headliners and Rising Stars at the 2018 Montreal International Jazz Festival" In Pictures Headliners and Rising Stars at the 2018 Montreal...
by Dave Kaufman
Published: August 26, 2018