Relayer, released 40 years ago on November 28, 1974, found Yes moving toward the more complex waters of jazz rock — sparked by the replacement of Rick Wakeman with Patrick Moraz. Unsurprisingly, these songs grew out of jam sessions. That informality opened up new vistas of improvisational freedom for Yes, if only for a moment.
“We had been jamming quite a bit, especially with Chris [Squire] and Alan [White], from the time I joined the band,” Moraz tells us, in an exclusive Something Else! Sitdown. “We had many, many jam sessions and co-compositions, those kind of things. On some of those things, we very close to the edge of jazz rock, and over time it might have taken us maybe much further.”
Indeed, Squire and White have never sounded more in sync, while Jon Anderson constructs some of his most involving prose poems. In keeping with its recording site inside Squire’s garage, Steve Howe provides the project’s edge, adding crunchy electric and pedal steel guitar throughout what quickly became known as one of Yes’ most musically complex albums.
This all but ensured that the endlessly challenging Relayer, recently re-released with a new 5.1 surround-sound remix, couldn’t match the UK charttopping success of either its predecessor Tales from Topographic Oceans or the subsequent Going for the One.