KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Forty Year Friday – YES “GOING FOR THE ONE”

Artist: YES
Album: GOING FOR THE ONE

[Welcome to Forty Year Friday, the weekly series on my favorite albums of 1977]

yes-going-for-the-oneI’ve professed my love of progressive rock here many times over the years but somehow my favorite artist in that wide-ranging genre, Yes, has only received passing mentions in discussions about other artists. The closest I came to covering their music was in reference to the Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe album in Part 1 of my One And Done series. Singer Jon Anderson, drummer Bill Bruford, keyboardist Rick Wakeman and guitarist Steve Howe were all members of the legendary early ‘70s Yes lineup that recorded the classic Fragile and Close To The Edge LPs, and all but Mr. Bruford were present for the band’s eighth studio album, Going For The One, along with founding bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White. After one album without Wakeman, the keyboard maestro returned to reunite the lineup that recorded the controversial double-LP Tales From Topographic Oceans four years earlier. Going For The One showcases a more streamlined & accessible side of the band, with only one extended track, while still pushing musical boundaries. It was also their fifth consecutive Top 10 album in the US, so even though it’s somewhat overlooked as compared to some of their more popular releases, it’s highly regarded by most Yes fanatics (like myself).  The centerpiece of the album is “Awaken,” a 15+ minute multi-part prog-rock suite that incorporates pretty piano & dazzling synth work from Wakeman, classic Steve Howe guitar runs, Anderson’s elliptical, mystifying lyrics and a wonderful melodic hook at the four-word ascending vocals prior to “awaken gentle mass touch(ing).” It’s one of their most accessible epics and a fitting way to close out the album.

By contrast 5-1/2 minute album opener “Going For The One” is almost straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll. Of course this is Yes so things are not always as they initially appear: White’s drum pattern is punctuated by stops, starts & rhythmic shifts, pedal steel guitar is Howe’s yes-on-stage-1977instrument of choice and Anderson leaves us scratching our heads at lyrics like “Listen in time, taken so high, To touch, to move, listen to life; Touching, touch time, travel, twilight, Taken so high, taking your time.” Anderson & Wakeman shine on “Wonderous Stories,” one of the most delightful (and shortest) songs in their discography. With subtle accompaniment from the rhythm section and Howe on 12-string acoustic, vocals & keyboards take center stage on this lush, spiritual masterpiece. Howe’s gentle, pretty acoustic guitar is the ideal partner for Anderson’s dreamlike vocal arrangement on “Turn Of The Century,” before the song perks up over its final couple of minutes. The steady rhythmic “Parallels” features some stinging guitar lines, but is most notable for the gargantuan church organ sound which Wakeman recorded on site at St. Martin’s Church in Vevey, Switzerland, a short distance from their studio in Montreux. This album seems to gain in stature each time I play it, and it’s hard to believe such vital, creative & challenging music was created 40 years ago. Also worth noting is the sleek Hipgnosis-designed cover art, which marked a drastic shift from the elaborate Roger Dean landscapes that adorned many of their previous record sleeves. Along with Rush’s “Starman” logo, nude male posteriors were all the rage in mid-‘70s prog-rock circles.

For more on Yes, including a brief synopsis of Going For The One, I urge you to check out Bruce Jenkins’ 10 Albums To Say Yes To post.

 

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43 comments on “Forty Year Friday – YES “GOING FOR THE ONE”

  1. stephen1001
    February 10, 2017

    They have 3 records on the 1001 (curiously not this one) – after the posts by you & Bruce, it sounds like there is much more to be explored!

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    • I’m not surprised this one wasn’t among the three in the book since several others have a much higher commercial & critical profile. Bruce’s Top 10 list is close to my own, although my order might be slightly different. “Close To The Edge” is their undisputed masterpiece.

      Liked by 2 people

      • stephen1001
        February 10, 2017

        And you won’t be surprised to hear that’s one of the ones that made the cut!
        Fragile & The Yes album are the other two

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      • I would agree that those are the three Yes albums that any newbie should check out first, but there’s plenty more to love as you dive deeper into their catalog, even several of their ’80s albums (Drama, 90125, Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe) that some ’70s-era fans unfairly dismiss.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. critterjams
    February 10, 2017

    kinda muddies the “punk killed prog” narrative, doesn’t it? this was a No. 1 and ELP’s Works, Vol. 1 hit the Top Ten (despite being…kinda janky). GFTO is a classic – the title track was one of the first Yes tracks I heard and I was blown away – put the rock back in prog!! (sadly, no other Yes tunes are quite like that one)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great point about the punk vs. prog battle, which might have gone to punk in the eyes of critics, but when it came to album sales, chart activity and longevity, prog outlasts them all. No one can make those dinosaurs extinct. 😀

      I agree that there’s nothing else in their catalog quite like “Going For The One,” but that’s one of the great things about them: always confounding expectations and then moving on to something else.

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    • Vinyl Connection
      February 10, 2017

      Perhaps “Owner of a lonely heart” or “Almost like love”?

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      • Comparing those to “Going For The One”? I suppose they all qualify as essentially straight-forward rockers (with the expected left turns) but I suppose that countrified pedal steel sets “GFTO” apart from any others.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Vinyl Connection
        February 10, 2017

        It was the ‘rocking’ part I was responding to, Rich. But I’ll confess, I got fed up with the single pretty quickly!

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      • You got fed up with the title track? It’s not one of my all-time favorites but it does stand out as a unique song in their discography.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Vinyl Connection
        February 10, 2017

        Perhaps because it was on the radio? Maybe I should pull it out again. It’s been a while…

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      • I can see it getting old if you heard it non-stop when it was released, but maybe with fresh ears you’ll have a whole new appreciation for it. I’m always amazed at how good “Wonderous Stories” sounds. I’ll never grow tired of that one.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Alyson
    February 10, 2017

    Such a strange time 1977 – In the UK, if you were male and under 20, it was punk all the way but if you were over 20 albums like these were still a must-buy. I remember spending long evenings at my old school boyfriend’s house playing records, and this was one his older brother had which I loved so (dare I say it) I made a copy onto cassette tape. Think I still have it but nothing to play it on now!

    Rick Wakeman is almost better known here nowadays for being a raconteur and appears on television all the time, even forming part of a gaggle of “grumpy old men” who have a good moan about modern day life. Still goes on tour complete with cape but spends most of the evening telling stories.

    Looking back at your FYF choices so far noticing that most have been by artists outwith the US – Was that the norm in 1977 or did you just have more international tastes?

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    • I have a feeling the punk/prog (or punk/all other genres) divide was much clearer in the UK, since that’s where punk made the biggest impact, so teenage memories of that time will differ between the US & UK. I was still a pre-teen and I was absorbing music like a sponge. I didn’t buy any punk albums but I liked some of what I heard (especially The Ramones, one of my first concerts). It wasn’t until new wave that I really started to open up to, well, the new wave of artists like Joe Jackson, Graham Parker, The Pretenders, etc. Pretty much anyone who combined attitude with melody.

      Until the last few years I didn’t realize how funny & silly Rick Wakeman is. I always assumed he took himself as seriously as his public persona, but it’s really the opposite. He writes a columns in Prog Magazine that always makes me smile. I saw him recently with Anderson Rabin Wakeman, and his passion for that music is as strong as ever. Plus, he’s still an amazing talent on the keys.

      That’s an interesting observation about my FYF choices so far. I think it’s just coincidence. My next three will be American, and there’s a Canadian artist coming up as well. Since I was only 11 in 1977, the majority of these albums didn’t make their way into my collection until a few years later, other than the occasional hit singles

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Kevin
    February 10, 2017

    Although The Yes Album, Fragile and Close To The Edge are considered the “classic” Yes albums, I would easily include GFTO in with that lot. After the murkiness and occasionally bloated Topographic Oceans and the somewhat impenetrable Relayer, (I do love those albums, regardless) this was a new and improved Yes. Rejuvenated and exciting. Five top notch songs, one of which is a bona fide prog masterpiece. Flawless Yes album.

    Like

    • Once again we’re on the same page here, Kevin. Yes is one of my all-time favorite bands so I’m passionate about almost everything they’ve released, and my definition of their “classic” albums goes beyond the ones you mentioned. I already professed my love for the Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe record (some incredible songs that maybe could have used a fuller production, and Mr. Squire on bass), and Drama has been firmly in my Yes Top 5 for a very long time. I’m glad you also love Going For The One. I’ve been guilty of undervaluing it in the past but that won’t happen again.

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  5. Heavy Metal Overload
    February 10, 2017

    One of my favourite Yes albums too. Definitely ranks up with the classic three… I couldn’t get into Tormato though.

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    • Alright Scott. Nice to know you also love Going For The One. I’ve been curious how others rank this album, which definitely belongs in the discussion of their best releases. It took me a long time to appreciate Tormato but it’s grown in stature over the years. By biggest complaint has always been the brittle production. The songs are good but there’s very little warmth on that record. I remember seeing it in the cutout bins not long after it was released (possibly before Drama was released two years later) and for a long time I equated it with ELP’s contractual obligation album, Love Beach. I now know that was an unfair comparison. I won’t say Tormato is a classic but it’s worth the effort to spend more time with it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Heavy Metal Overload
        February 10, 2017

        Well that’s good to know. I’ve definitely not given it a huge number of listens that’s for sure! One to revisit at some point and see if I get on better with it.

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      • I wouldn’t put it on top priority but well worth a revisit at some point. Are you familiar with Drama? That’s probably their best “unknown” album and probably the closest they ever came to prog-metal.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Heavy Metal Overload
        February 10, 2017

        Yes, I like that album a lot. That, the classic three, Relayer, GFTO and 90125 are the albums that I’ve enjoyed the most. Haven’t investigated any later or earlier albums. Tales… and Tormato are on the revisit pile!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Kevin
        February 10, 2017

        You’re right; Tormato is brittle and cold. There is no subtlety in the mix. Everything is loud, and at times, Wakeman and Howe sound like they are battling it out to see who can play the most notes. That said, I think it’s a bit underrated. I don’t dislike anything on it, and “Future Times/Rejoice” is one of my all-time favorites.

        Like

  6. Vinyl Connection
    February 10, 2017

    Just love the way any Yes post brings forth such passion and nuanced tastes. Although I’m not quite as big a fan as some of your readers, Rich, I did enjoy the discussion very much.

    For what it’s worth, the prog punk conflict had nothing whatsoever to do with real people. It was entirely generated by the music press; a silly and indefensible faux fight to sell magazines and enhance the cache of a new (and not very popular) strand of music. Don’t get me wrong, I love the best of punk, but compared to other styles (especially prog) it didn’t really sell much at all, in either the UK or the US.

    Finally (and apologies for jumping on the soap box), thanks for the shout-out for “10 Albums To Say Yes To”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, Bruce, you’re clearly enough of a Yes fan to have a Top 10 albums post so your input is much appreciated. It was my pleasure sharing that post here. Hopefully you’ll get some well-deserved click-throughs.

      It was always very obvious that the punk/prog comflict was all the work of know-it-all critics who wanted to promote what’s new & (according to them) hip while dismissing what came before it. As if you can’t love both. For me most punk was one-dimensional which is why it doesn’t have as much staying power as so many other more musical (and melodic) genres.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. deKE
    February 10, 2017

    I confess I didn’t buy into Yes until I heard Rabin’s opening riff to Owner…..
    As the early 80s rolled around Rich, Asia was my first foray into learning about Howe and Downes…
    I think there was the rumour floating around at the time that Squire and White were going to hookup with Page and Plant ..or am I hallucinating?! hahaha…
    I will have to check this one out as I never heard of it….
    Nice music Lesson for newbie’s like me!

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    • Derek, whenever you’re ready to dip your toes further into the Yes waters, I think 1980’s Drama would be a good one to check out next, especially if you like 90125. After that, the classics The Yes Album, Fragile and Close To The Edge would be the way to go. As much as I love Going For The One, the others are slightly more essential.

      As for Squire & White hooking up with Page & Plant, I remember it well. They were going to be called XYZ (aka Ex-members of Yes & Zeppelin). There are rough studio recordings of some sessions floating out in cyberspace. It’s all instrumentals by Page, Squire & White. Plant was suggested and might have met with them, but it never amounted to more than that. Oh how I wish that project would have gone a little further.

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      • Kevin
        February 10, 2017

        I believe one of those XYZ songs ended up on the second Firm album, and two others – “Can You Imagine” and “Mind Drive” – as Yes songs. What a supergroup that could have been.

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      • You’re right, Kevin. The Firm and Yes used some of the riffs for new songs a few years later. Thanks for reminding me.

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      • deKE
        February 11, 2017

        Thanks Rich. I will check this stuff out via Apple music. Good to see that I somehow knew about the ZEP/YES mash up …..hahaha…I think I read that back in Circus magazine way back when….was it the Backpages column by Lou O Neil…believe that was his name….

        Like

      • You’re probably right about the XYZ Band being mentioned in Circus. That’s likely where I read it. I think I created a logo for them on my loose-leaf binder assuming they were going to be a real band. I don’t remember specifics about Circus (or Creem), especially the writers, but the impact those magazines had on me will never be forgotten.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Jeff Kempin
    February 11, 2017

    I will have to check this one out too. I have the “Classic 3” Yes albums plus Relayer and I’ve enjoyed them all. Even though this was an album chart hit, I think most casual Yes fans look at the period between Fragile and 90125 as a kind of black hole of proggy pretension, although I know that’s not the case. If I come across a (preferably) vinyl copy of it somewhere, I will definitely pick it up and give it a try.

    Like

    • It took me a while to fully embrace the post-Close To The Edge ’70s Yes when I was a teenager, even though I always liked certain parts of each album, but eventually I grew to love them all. It was Drama in 1980 that floored me, and I don’t think 90125 would have happened without that album. Are you familiar with Drama? A lot of fans dismiss it because Jon Anderson wasn’t with the band, but it’s been in my Yes Top 5 for as long as I can remember.

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  9. Victim of the Fury
    February 11, 2017

    I’m another of the “big 3” plus Relayer Yes owners, although I did pick up GFTO late last year precisely after reading Vinyl Connection’s “Ten Albums to Say Yes To” post. Your post has spurred me to take the next step and actually listen to it! The comment section here also has me curious about Drama.

    P.S. You can also count me as another proponent of the Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe LP.

    Like

    • I’m glad you’ll soon check out Going For The One thanks to prodding from me & Bruce. I think you’ll find a lot to like here. But I’m especially curious to find out what you think of Drama whenever you check it out. If you can get past the fact that Anderson isn’t singing (which I have no problem with), song-wise it’s outstanding. So happy to meet another ABWH fan. I consider it one of their essential albums.

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  10. Jeff Kempin
    February 12, 2017

    I remember hearing Brother of Mine on the radio a lot during the time that ABWH album came out. Yes was my very first concert, during the Union tour. I will look for Drama too.

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    • I was surprised that any ABWH songs got radio play. Prog was at a commercial low point back then. Ooh, the Union tour was amazing so that’s a great first concert. I wonder how many of those guys will show up at the R&R Hall Of Fame induction later this year. Too bad Chris Squire is no longer with us.

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      • Phillip Helbig
        February 13, 2017

        Speaking of the Union tour, I was there. Also saw ABWH. For the record (pun, as always, intended), I am not a YES fan, though I recently thought about buying a small box of all their classic albums on CD. Maybe there is something there.

        I was at the Union tour with a friend who is also a fan of, among other things, prog. His girlfriend (much older) also came along, but wasn’t familiar with Yes. She knew “Owner of a Lonely Heart”, though.

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      • For a non-Yes fan you saw two great tours (both of which I also attended). I can’t imagine you wouldn’t find SOMETHING to love in that Yes box set.

        It’s interesting that the much older girlfriend of your friend only knew that one Yes song and not their classic ’70s prog material. You never know what music people are exposed to.

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      • Phillip Helbig
        February 14, 2017

        Well, she was a bit older, more 1960s than 1970s. Had seen Jimi Hendrikx live.

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      • I guess that makes sense, but even a late-’60s woman should have known “Roundabout” and “I’ve Seen All Good People.”

        Like

  11. Aphoristical
    February 16, 2017

    I completely agree with Bruce’s top two of Close to the Edge and Relayer, but Going For The One would be my number three, just edging out Fragile.

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    • Going For The One has been slowly climbing up my list of Yes favorites over the years, and revisiting it recently for this post made me appreciate more than ever before. It’s not in my Top 5 but I can’t argue with your rankings. Their discography is so vast & wonderful and most of their albums could be my favorite on any given day.

      Like

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