(The first in a continuing series of reviews of Music that is old[er], but new to me.)
Relayer, Yes, 1974
I added this album to my library about three weeks ago, inspired by the blog posts I wrote about my favorite concerts.
One of those shows was a November 1974 gig that pretty much coincided with the first release of Yes’s seventh studio album, and was part of the tour promoting the LP. But, writing that post, I thought it odd that I didn’t remember the cuts from Relayer being performed, and all three of them were.
I did, however, remember the songs from Close to the Edge, the band’s fifth LP, being played. That was perhaps because I really liked, and still do, that album. But after writing that blog post, my thought process went like this, concerning the two projects: same general time frame, same format (three cuts per album, one side-long), equals same appreciation.
So, I purchased the album off iTunes. Not long after my Big Brother called me from one of the places where he buys used CDs, asking for my opinion on an unrelated disk; there was a copy of Relayer for $8, basically a couple bucks less than I had just paid. Not a big deal, I thought.
Then I listened to the my new purchase, and I realized why I didn’t remember the Relayer material from that concert 44 years ago: it wasn’t memorable. OK, Uncle Wiki says that it was well-received critically, and certified Gold — but, hey, there were a lot of drugs going around back then.
I cranked it up on the big speakers on the Man Porch (see my most recent blog post), and soon found myself, asking myself, “What the h-e-double hockey sticks?” Close to the Edge, after the initial music concréte intro, is a bit incoherent, but soon resolves into the Siddhartha Buddha-inspired theme. (Which is one of the reasons I like Yes, and progressive rock, the latter being anathema to many Rockers. To each his own …)
Relayer, on the other hand, never seems to resolve into anything. For as long as I could hang with the Side 1 opus, — and I admit, I didn’t make it through the almost 22-minute ordeal — it was not the Gates of Delirium; it was well inside the gates, past the front yard and into the living room.
Well, OK, maybe the first cut on the second side, “Sound Chaser,” will be more like its equivalent on Close, “And You and I” — a wonderful example of Jon Anderson poetry, augmented by some of guitarist Steve Howe’s best. (Check out the video on You Tube.) Um, no — more incoherence.
I still hold out hope for “To Be Over,” but need some distance from the first — OK, maybe second, or more — listening experience.
I’d still give this album a 7, or less: it doesn’t have a nice beat, and it isn’t easy to dance to. (If you don’t know where that verbiage comes from, there are things about The Music that you don’t understand.) That can be said about a lot of Prog Rock, but dance music is not what we expect from the genre.