Thursday, July 19, 2018

CHA CHA CHAA CHA CHA!

It's time to go out on a limb (as we beat this Yes thing to death), and you can quote me on this - if you ever find yourself interviewing me for some bizarre reason: Relayer is the second best Yes album. We all know that Close to the Edge is number one, and most folks agree that Fragile is right there behind it; but not me. I mean at 13, "We Have Heaven" was just so out there and frankly the girls didn't care for Yes, but they liked that you did, and Fragile had "Roundabout," the one song they were into. But forty years on it's no longer about girls but about Patrick Fucking Moraz! Wakeman quit the band because he felt that Tales was out of hand and Yes, who effectively killed the genre with that four sided bombastic journey, recouped and hooked up with a Swiss jazzman into some heavy, hardcore fusion. None of that hippy dippy, mellotron smellotron shit for him, no sir, he was gonna patch in the most jarring synths he had and let 'em rip. What we end up with is the least characteristic Yes album since the The Yes Album.

 "The Gates of Delirium" demolishes all memory of Siddartha and Yogananda and gets us right back to something that, quality-wise, is as good as anything from '71-'72 era Yes. And this shit is violent. Violent, that’s the word for it. Anderson sounds deranged, leading his imaginary troops into a vicious, bloody battle that's depicted in a lengthy instrumental break where keyboards and guitars crash into one another and come spiraling down to saw your brain in half. It really is jaw-dropping, especially to hear it from a bunch of guys who just an album ago sounded like they were hippies who showed up at the party a couple years too late. Then the third part rolls around, and if they haven't gotten you then, the magnificent desolation on display will. That's the aftermath. You know, when a small band of surviving soldiers wanders about the carnage and blood and corpses and asks themselves what was the point of it all. It blows my socks off.

I am sockless through "Sound Chaser." Steve Howe does his usual flamenco guitar thing in the middle somewhere, but plays it on some heavy, dirty-sounding guitar, and that's after the most jarring, harshest synths in the universe bounce around the speakers and tug you around from one side of your room to the other, and Jon shouts out the derisive chant, "CHA! CHA CHA CHA! CHA CHA CHA!" as the crazy synthesizer shit continues. If you thought that "The Gates of Delirium" was the craziest crazy in crazyville, you hadn't HEARD crazy yet. Then, "To Be Over" strides in a melancholy and tasteful and soothing, because after all the wackiness, you need some cool- down time. It's the weakest tune on the album (but only in comparison) until the 7:30 mark when suddenly it becomes the most beautiful shit ever with Howe and a sitar and angel Anderson and the tears come down and Moraz leaves and prog rock goes out, not with a wimper, but a CHA! CHA CHAA CHA CHA! Relayer is far from the place to start listening to Yes, but it's somewhere on the journey you'll get to and won't leave.