Yes – Going For The One

1977 (Atlantic Records)

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)

I find it difficult to add anything ‘new’ about “Going For The One” (1977), the eighth album of British progressive rock band Yes because everything necessary has been said and written. The whole fuss that the album is quite different from their usual in production, line-up, song length and cover design, had completely passed me by. “Going For The One” was the first Yes lp I bought and I have grown up with the beautiful music.” Going For The One” therefore is my reference point when it comes to Yes.

It amazes me time and time again that as a 14-year-old symphonic virgin I was so receptive to their music that I was already happy to sink into their world. I wanted to be forever part of the subtle guitar work, those virtuoso and colossal keyboard parts, that buzzing bass playing and determined way of drumming. Singer Jon Anderson was the perfect guide with his angelic voice. For about 40 minutes he managed to lead me around in the imaginary heaven on earth.

Half a century later, the impact of listening is still exactly the same, isn’t that great. The build-up invariably enraptures me and I don’t exaggerate. The album was recorded in Montreux (Switzerland) and it is almost inevitable that there is a well with tonal castor oil. The five songs of “Going For The One” are beautiful because of their successive build-up and each track has its intrinsic contribution to the whole. For example, the first four songs are quite short and direct by Yes standards, making them the ideal harbinger of the 15-minute closing track Awaken.

The album starts with the vivid title track Going For The One and it is the steel guitar of Steve Howe which constantly claims your attention. Interesting is the rhythmic background and how everyone anticipates. Rick Wakeman’s keyboard playing deserves full attention in particular. Also nice is that the rocking song has a light-footed character towards the end, making it a pointer to the future.

The subsequent Turn Of The Century is a beautifully subdued song that is too sensitive to call it a ballad. Very nice is the lingering intermediate piece where the piano sparkles nicely and the glowing guitar notes twinkle. The song tells the story of a sculptor whose wife dies. While mourning her death, he makes a statue of her, which, as it were, revives her. Anderson got the idea from the opera La Bohème, with as additional inspiration the Greek mythological figure Pygmalion, who fell in love with a statue he made of a woman. It is obviously a typical Anderson-lyric.

Parallels, written by Chris Squire, starts with a wonderfully rocking church organ, as if the magisterial instrument was made for it. This is the organ of Saint Martin’s church in the village nearby called Vevey. Also very nice are the enthusiastic parts of both guitar and bass guitar.

If we turn the record around (“Going For The One” is mainly a record: he said with respect) we get to hear Wonderous Stories. This fairly accessible song is played on the vachalia and the presence of this 12-string fado instrument makes it interesting again. With the song you imagine yourself in a waiting room, as it were. No, not from a doctor or anything like that but from the museum of the most beautiful progsongs.

A marvelous piano intro opens the door for the beautiful Awaken. The first minutes of the epic are rather vocally oriented, while the focus shifts towards the atmosphere later on. Alan White’s tuned percussion has an enchanting effect, the aforementioned church organ sounds sublime and the choir is fantastic. Steve Howe’s pedal stems open the sky and Rick Wakeman’s Moog plugs in all the holes. The end of the song has a vastness that you want to keep listening to. High vibration go on.

I have tried to be as objective as possible in this review. Mission failed.

Jon Anderson: vocals, harp (5)
Steve Howe: steel guitar, acoustic and electric guitar, vachalia, vocals
Chris Squire: bass, fretless bass, 8 string bass, vocals
Rick Wakeman: piano, electric keyboards, church organ, Polymoog ynthesizers, choir arrangements (5)
Alan White: drums, percussion, tuned percussion
Choir: Richard Williams Singers
Choir: Ars Laeta Of Lausanne

© Dick van der Heijde 2022