Yes – Going For the One

Although Yes’ ‘Going For The One’ is seen as a return to simpler songs after their three most ambitious and complex works, I will say that this was one of the biggest growers that the band has thrown at me. Even their most immense ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’ was a matter of love at first listen for me, so it is fairly surprising and ironic that the album that sees them going back to less bombastic ways of making music. Even with the change of album art creators from Roger Dean to the art collective Hipgnosis signals that this is a change of pace for Yes. But what does this all mean?

On my first listen of ‘Going For The One’, I found myself fairly put off by the title track, and it made me nervous to even explore the rest of the album. ‘Turn Of The Century’ was a very beautiful track, but ‘Parallels’ went back to the same issue I had with the first song; being that there was too much going on at the same time. Although the track lengths on ‘Going For The One’ were generally shortened from the epics Yes were used to making by this point, it seems like they became even more intent on overloading the listener with different ideas. ‘Going For The One’ was a track I figured would be catchy and fun to listen to, seeing as I only knew it as one of their better-known tracks with a contagious chorus hook. Listening to the near-country twang at the beginning had me instantly wondering what had happened to the band that had been tearing down the house with ‘Close To The Edge’ and ‘Fragile’ only a few years before. There was a wave of sounds here that reminded me of the chaotic ‘battle sequence’ on ‘The Gates Of Delirium’ from ‘Relayer’, except this time around, it was transposed onto what may have been a pop song, if you had replaced the verse section with something more coherent. I was not expecting something like this, but the title track did grow on me after a few listens, and I do consider it a great track, and even appreciate the strange melodies and chaotic nature of the piece. All the same, it is not as classic of a listen as something from the earlier albums, but there is better stuff on the album to come.

‘Turn Of The Century’ is the track that I most easily identified with early on. The acoustic, ‘beautiful’ side of Yes is always one that wows me, and with ‘Turn Of The Century’, I was quietly reminded why they are my favourite band. Jon Anderson’s vocals are soaring and nearly angelic, and the soft flourishes Steve Howe makes with his guitar are incredible, albeit a trick I had already heard from the man a few times before. ‘Parallels’ is a less successful track, and maybe the weakest thing that ‘Going For The One’ has going for it. It is as chaotic as the title track, and while Steve Howe makes some excellent ideas with the guitar here, the obnoxious organ idea that the song revolves around gets a little tired.

‘Wondrous Stories’ is another mellow tune by the Yes boys, but not quite as stunning as ‘Turn Of The Century’. Lastly is the immense ‘Awaken’, which Jon Anderson has considered to be the greatest thing that the band ever did. An epic that indicates that Yes were not going to lay the ‘song suite’ thing to rest just yet, ‘Awaken’ is not as exciting of an epic for me as, say, ‘Close To The Edge’, and the melodies here are not so sudden to jump out and pull me in. Where ‘Awaken’ does really succeed however is in the fact that it is beautifully arranged, and although possibly the most subtle of the Yes epics, there are some very complex moments to it that show Yes as modern classical composers; particularly the first section where vocals are involved. The keyboards of Rick Wakeman are used alot here on ‘Awaken’, although as far as the album is concerned, I would say that the man who stands out the most is Jon Anderson. Even in the less melodic parts of ‘Going For The One’, his incredible voice makes the music soar like a bird.

‘Going For The One’ is not quite a masterpiece, but it could just as well be thrown in with the other classic Yes albums. The third and fourth tracks don’t do as much for me as I would have liked them to, but on the other hand, there are three tracks that blow me away, and only continue to grow on me as I listen to the album more. An excellent album for prog rock, and an essential for Yes fans.

Tracklist:

1. 1. Going For The One (5:30)
2. Turn Of The Century (8:58)
3. Parallels (6:52)
4. Wonderous Stories (3:45)
5. Awaken (15:38)

Total Time: 40:43

Bonus tracks on Elektra remaster (2003):
6. Montreux’s Theme (2:38)
7. Vevey (Revisited) (4:46)
8. Amazing Grace (2:36)
9. Going For The One (Rehearsal) (5:10)
10. Parallels (Rehearsal) (6:21)
11. Turn Of The Century (Rehearsal) (6:58)
12. Eastern Numbers (Early version of “Awaken”) (12:16)

Line-up:

* Jon Anderson – vocals, guitar (6,10,12), harp (7)
* Chris Squire – bass and vocals
* Rick Wakeman – keyboards
* Alan White – drums
* Steve Howe – guitars

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