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Yes - Going for the One CD (album) cover

GOING FOR THE ONE

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

4.04 | 1442 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars So coming off a series of increasingly complex and luminous albums in the early 70s, the members of Yes go their separate ways for a year or so and each release their own solo albums. Most of the ones I’ve heard seemed pretty decent, although I admit I’ve haven’t gotten around to Patrick Moraz’ A Story of I yet, and Howe’s Beginnings is my least favorite of those of his that I’ve heard. In the meantime their label released Yesterdays, the first blatant attempt at commercializing the Yes sound (in this case with its marketing, not its music).

So back comes Rick Wakeman amidst all kinds of rumors about the nature of Moraz’ departure, including the believable one that he did contribute to the album along with Wakeman but was asked to leave over creative differences. Kind of hard to imagine what those differences were, but the resulting Going For the One is certainly a pretty significant departure for the band, and one from which they would never fully return.

It’s probably inevitable that the music of Yes would take on a more moderate, commercially conciliatory tone as the 70s wound to a close and the band (along with so may other progressive dinosaurs) was forced to compete for attention and dollars with disco and punk. I remember jokes at the time that the phrase ‘going for the one’ was actually a tongue-in-cheek attempt by the band to appear critical of their management’s handling of their image, as in – the label was ‘going for’ a #1 album. If you listen to the words of the title track, that isn’t what it’s about of course, but skepticism by fans was understandable, right from the opening notes that almost sound like the band has gone country or something.

Steve Howe plays a much more prominent role here than in any previous album, especially on the title track and the highly acoustic “Turn of The Century”, which has surprisingly candid lyrics along the lines of the earlier “Dear Father”.

Wakeman cranks up an actual pipe organ on “Parallels”, an interesting change in tempo and style for the band. Wakeman aside, the real star on this one is Chris Squire with his customarily unparalleled bass lines. The organ solo gives some meat to this otherwise fairly simple tune, and in all it comes off as one of the better tracks.

For me, “Wonderous Stories” is THE Yes song for the latter half of that decade. While it is almost criminally short, the seamless blending of Wakeman’s keyboards and Squire’s bass with Howe’s delicate guitar is a real treat and one of the few times where all the instruments seem to be as one, rather than separate performances thrown together in the studio. Jon Anderson’s voice here seems subdued compared to much of his previous work, but I don’t think this was meant to be some sort of profound mystic tale of yore or something. It’s just a little ditty about fantasizing about the words of a storyteller, nothing more. The real attraction here is the harmonious way the band all work together, each of them understated but together a really magical sound. Thanks to the highly accessible sound and the fact it was released as a single and performed repeatedly in concert, this has become probably one of the most recognizable Yes tunes in their catalog.

I really don’t know what to say about “Awaken” except that it proves the band had not lost sight of the style of music that drew their following throughout the decade and up to this point. Anderson wanders off with more of his humanistic mysticism in the lyrics, and once again we are treated to an epic length work that covers more ground than most listeners can appreciate without repeated plays and reflection. As part of this each band member steals the limelight at one point of another to showcase their individual talent, and the tempo changes almost make this seem like a multi-track offering instead of a single composition. But in the end the band manages to bring the whole work back together, although for me this happens around the fourteen minute mark, and the rest of the song is just needless winding down. No matter, the track gives hope that Yes has not completely slipped into the commercially-minded mainstream, despite the amount of ‘selling out’ that is going on around them.

This is not one of the best Yes albums, in my opinion, but every track is at least good. “Parallels” is really good, and “Wonderous Stories” and “Awaken” are great. The moving away from Roger Dean art in the packaging is a bit of a disappointment, but considering the times this is an almost understandable change. The shorter songs aren’t in themselves problematic, but the fact that the band chose not to develop “Wonderous Stories” and “Parallels” is a bit concerning, and should have been a sign that the band mess with their core competencies even more in the future (which of course, they did).

In all this is a good album, but not great, and especially not on the scale that Yes albums should be judged against. For that reason I think three stars is the right way to rate this, and it would be some time before the band would offer up anything as good again.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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