Yes – Relayer [TrackList follows] – Panegyric 5.1 & 2.0 audio-only Blu-ray + CD

Yes – Relayer [TrackList follows] – Panegyric 5.1 & 2.0 audio-only Blu-ray + standard CD (2 discs) GYRBD50096 (11/4/14) ****:

(Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White, Jon Anderson, Patrick Moraz)

This is the third in a series of expanded reissues of great albums by Yes, including multichannel and stereo mixes, hi-res mixes of the original music, and a wealth of additional material. High-voiced vocalist Jon Anderson, Yes’ most identifiable musician, said in an interview that “…we had so much happening musically and sonically, we needed surround sound to realize the concept.” Robbie Gerson reviewed the last Yes reissue here.

And so they have it. Unfortunately the audio side of the project was somehow left behind and the audio setup menu really doesn’t make it clear how to get the 5.1 mixes—I was unable to until I got assistance from Panegyric themselves. If you just press Play on your deck’s remote, the disc will automatically default to the DTS-HD MA 5.1 stream. (Guess I missed that.) Be sure your preamp or receiver is set to DTS and Optical if it requires that. You can also use the colored buttons on your remote: the Red takes you to the DTS-HD Master Audio, the Yellow or Green ones to the 2.0 PCM stereo mixes. The Blue one just changes to the next playlist onscreen. I have my Oppo deck set up for 6-channel analog RCA outs, but found the PCM tracks to be much lower level and no better than the DTS audio (at least to my ears – if you’re in your ‘20s you may hear a very slight improvement). I suggest just staying with the Blu-ray lossless audio optical tracks.

This was Yes’ seventh studio album and somewhat resembles Close to the Edge. The distinctive artwork of Roger Dean is prominent here, and in fact he did some updating and restoration of some of it. There are basically three long tracks. Here’s the run-down of the contents on the Blu-ray, which is so over-the-top it should appeal mainly to rabid Yes fans:

CD (both versions):
2014 Stereo mixes by Steven Wilson from original multi-track tapes:
1. The Gates Of Delirium
2. Sound Chaser
3. To Be Over
Bonus tracks (Mixed & produced by Yes and Eddie Offord):
4. Soon (single edit)
5. Sound Chaser (single edit)
 
Blu-ray:
2014 Stereo mixes: PCM Stereo 24/96
1. The Gates Of Delirium
2. Sound Chaser
3. To Be Over
2014 5.1 Surround mixes: 24/96 MLP Lossless/DTS 96/24
1. The Gates Of Delirium
2. Sound Chaser
3. To Be Over
Original stereo mixes: Flat Transfer from original master PCM Stereo 24/192
1. The Gates Of Delirium
2. Sound Chaser
3. To Be Over
The “Alternate” Album: PCM Stereo 24/96
1. The Gates Of Delirium (studio run through)
2. Sound Chaser (studio run through)
3. To Be Over (studio run through)
 
Blu-ray-Only Content:
Additional Material:
1. Soon (single edit)
2. Sound Chaser (single edit)
3. The Gates Of Delirium (Studio run through)
Blu-ray Bonus: PCM Stereo 24/96
1. Sound Chaser (Live from Cobo Hall 1976)
2. Sound Chaser (demo version)
Archival Masters: PCM Stereo 24/96
1. The Gates Of Delirium
2. Sound Chaser
3. To Be Over
2014 Stereo instrumental mixes: PCM Stereo 24/96
1. The Gates Of Delirium
2. Sound Chaser
3. To Be Over
“Needle-Drop” 1: Original UK vinyl transfer: PCM Stereo 24/96
1. The Gates Of Delirium
2. Sound Chaser
3. To Be Over
“Needle-Drop” 2: US promo album vinyl transfer: PCM Stereo 24/96
1. The Gates Of Delirium (Part I)
2. The Gates Of Delirium (Part II)
3. The Gates Of Delirium (Part III)
4. Sound Chaser (Part I)
5. Sound Chaser (Part II)

The Blu-ray is region-free and it is one of the two discs in a vinyl replica gatefold card sleeve with inner protective black paper sleeves.  Providing a separate standard CD for playing in the car and elsewhere is a great idea. The enclosed booklet features new sleeve notes by Sid Smith along with rare photos and archive material.

Keyboardist Maraz was fired from the group while they prepared to record their next album in Switzerland. (Jon Anderson felt he wasn’t fitting in, and may have disliked the more jazz-oriented and lengthy instrumental style the band seemed to be taking then.) Maraz moved on to The Moody Blues, and Rick Wakeman returned to Yes.  Steve Wilson did the remixing for this new version and cleaned up the fidelity, the instrumental balance and the vocals very well. Yes is obviously not a group that relegates the surrounds to just the ambience of the performance, if you hear this in either of the 5.1 formats. In general the original tape hiss and hi-res fidelity are greatly improved. The clarity and separation of the various instruments is enhanced several degrees in these new versions. This version of “Sound Chaser” is supposed to be superior to all previous presentations of the track.

Obviously this is a reissue album that all big Yes fans will want to have.  The number of alternate and extra versions of things may be too much for others. Expecially the entire “needle-drop” dub of the actual original LP.  Don’t know how anyone with a decent surround sound speaker setup could possibly be interested in the stereo PCM mixes (let alone the original LP), but then I’m not one of those two-channel-only fans. The effect with the pseudo-surround codecs (such as Dolby ProLogic IIx) fed by the 2.0 PCM tracks is quite convincing and enjoyable. The lyrics are reprinted in the back of the note booklet, but in such small type that you’ll probably need a magnifying class to read them (unless you’re very young, and that’s obviously not the market for this disc). As with ELP’s lyrics, you may not be any further ahead even after you’ve read them. And Jon Anderson’s voice—well, like coffee, it’s an acquired taste.

For Relayer, Steve Howe abandoned his usual Gibson guitars for a more traditional rock sound using the Fender Telecaster, along with pedal steel, and Alan White added pieces of metal he picked up in a junkyard and other implements to his available percussion. The enhanced clarity also helps a lot.

—John Henry

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