We always hope that good things are on the horizon but, at the same time, we fear bad things will be coming all too soon. I suppose that’s not really surprising; it’s just what we mean by ‘hope’ and ‘fear’. To an optimist the future holds sunny days and happiness; the pessimist sees only dark clouds and misery. Both feel the wind of time blowing briskly in their faces.
When the seventh studio album by Yes was added to the Crotchety collection in 1974 it was received with a mixture of excited anticipation and nervousness. Relayer had had positive reviews but the band’s previous two releases (Close to the Edge and Tales from Topographic Oceans) had failed to spark enough enthusiasm to raid the personal piggy bank. The earlier Yes albums had been astonishing and delightful but lately the band seemed to have lost its way. Would Relayer continue the downward slide or rediscover the originality and energy of the first four albums, I wondered, as I put the disc on the turntable? I would soon find out.
On hearing it for the first time the Crotchety Appreciation Meter recorded reassured satisfaction. The new release was unlikely to match the majesty of The Yes Album or Fragile but it did have all the elements that propelled those earlier albums into the higher reaches of the Crotchety charts: brilliant performances, original arrangements and strong themes. Some parts seemed unnecessarily complicated, even a little pretentious, but the inner optimist assured me that further listening would soon fix that.
There was also one gorgeous song that fully justified the price of the album. It formed the last 5 or 6 minutes of The Gates of Delirium, the track that filled the whole of side 1. That song was subsequently released as the single, Soon.
Yes have come a long way since 1974. Over the years personnel have come and gone (RIP Chris Squire) and the band went through an extended, much more pop-oriented phase in the eighties and nineties. The beast even developed two heads in the sense that the Yes trademark was held simultaneously by the official group and a break-away band made up of former members of Yes.
More recently, the band has returned to some of their earlier material, celebrated with a 50th anniversary tour last year and will embark on another tour next year. The Yes name, it seems, won’t be dying any time soon.