1977's Going For The One marked the final foray into 'high art/high energy' music by the art-rock super quintet known as Yes. From the early years of their colorful and mystical career, Yes had established themselves as the premier force in a new form of quasi "symphonic" rock music, spawned from the psychedelic era of the late 60's that immediately preceded their nascence in the music world.
Known for their long-winded, extemporaneous magnum opuses like Close To The Edge(1972) and Tales From Topographic Oceans(1974), by the end of the 70's it appeared they had streamlined their style; producing shorter and more accessible pieces. Enter: Going For The One, Perhaps the best thought out and most well constructed of their 70's albums, its simplistic beauty perfectly capped a whirlwind decade of musical expression. The ultimate "swan song" to their very best era.
Opening with the title track, “Going For The One”, not unusually, right out of the gate (no pun intended) they all jump in feet first for a raucous 'semi-country' romp; complete with lap steel guitar and swirling mini Moog sounds dancing in the background. They really sound like they are having fun on this one; as if they somehow knew the course that lie ahead. They seem like they all got new toys and they're all amped to try them out. Lush vocal harmonies and the tried and true lap steel of Steve Howe bring this super high energy opener to a gorgeous climax; setting the pace for what I believe was their most musical effort to that point.
From the frantic fun of the opener, the mood is suddenly, yet, craftily shifted to a warm, emotional, lone classical guitar, which is soon joined by the haunting beauty of a single voice, introducing “Turn Of The Century”. A piece of loss and longing, this track stands alone as a near perfect example of modern classical music. It demonstrates the collective genius of the group and really emotes a sense of yearning to the listener. A true stroke of purity. To the very last chord, a tear-jerking EMajor9, this romantic story lilts from low to high low, as if from death to life and back again and quietly slips away; leaving behind a single tear.
As the listener recovers from this 'Shakespeare-like' interlude, the mighty pipe organ heralds the arrival of 'Parallels'. Once again, the great ones show us how it's really done. Packed with sleek, perfected vocal harmonies and an adrenaline charged under-pulse, this song really picks you up and tosses you around. Eclectic changes and electric pace put the listener on another fun-filled, exhilarating ride. Lyrically, they venture into a realm they occasionally visit which I personally love. It's sort of an 'autobiographical' or 'introspective' approach; really expressing their love for what they do and what they give to and take from their friends and fans: a celebration of their union as a musical creative force and a testament to their love for their craft. The one, two, three punch...and it's done... leaving you with the hairs standing up on the back of your neck and an overwhelming sense of "WOW!" welling up from your gut to the top of your head in two seconds flat.
The roller coaster continues, taking another turn for the sublime and reflective, this time in the form of “Wondrous Stories”. Another example of the melodic and lyrical genius of Yes vocalist Jon Anderson, this beautiful tune, almost like a German 'lied', takes you to the magical fairy tale land of the wondrous storyteller. Inspired by his flights of whimsical fancy and tales of far off lands and other jewels of the imagination, the main character of this pearl of Yes music tells the listener of his hope to return to the storyteller with an almost 'white rabbit' sense of urgency. Again, almost introspective, you get the feeling of imagination and mystification the character experiences with clarity of a looking glass through the warmth and comfort of a lullaby.
Alas, the journey ends. The dreamer is delivered to “Awaken”. Quite clearly, the last of the great Yes epics, this symbolic masterpiece boldly and grandly brings us to the pinnacle once more and shows us what lies beyond the norm and what lives in the mind of greatness. The piano mischievously dances into view like a pixie inviting you through the garden wall. It tempts you with the melodic treasures of what is yet to come; teases you with one step closer to the variation on the theme and eventually succumbs. The listener is transported to a place, the likes of which no one theretofore had ever been: a golden land of shimmering musical perfection you can almost feel and taste.
The high vibration goes on... to the sun. Cascading guitar scales announce the presence of the main theme: almost a march-like feel, with all five members playing various percussion instruments to give this section its 'biblical odyssey' atmosphere. Waltzing through a maze of musical convolutions, the mind is transformed and transported to nearly every point in the galactic map of Yes' universe. The pipe organ, the lap steel, the wonderfully unpredictable precision of the bassline, the lyrical and vocal ballet between Jon and bassist Chris Squire culminate in a mellifluous cacophony of sound and imagery and vision and wonder and magic and subtlety and quietly dissipate to the brilliant recapitulation of the glorious opening theme. Standing hand in hand with the main character one last time, a fading pulsar image sweetly glimmers into the darkness and this masterwork leaves you ...enlightened, enthralled, entertained and thoroughly satisfied.
(All Album Reviews by Sean)
Just a few words about the new Rhino remaster of Going For The One and the bonus tracks included- The folks at Rhino have shown over the years a great attention to detail when it comes to remastering and re-releasing classic albums by such known artists as Frank Zappa and Chicago, to name just a few. They continue this quest for detail here with the newly acquired Yes catalog.
The new remaster of Going For The One is a bit different than the rest of the batch that just hit stores, in that it comes in a regular jewel case rather than the paper "digi-pak" that was reserved for the covers done by Roger Dean. A rather odd choice, at the end of the day if you were to get all these new remasters you would have a hodgepodge of plastic and paper across your cd shelf. Seems sort of uneven but whatever.
Bonus track wise this cd has more to offer than any other this side of the new Tales..... Most all of the tracks on the album appear here in some early form. Some are similar to the originals; "Parallels", "Going For The One". Others are radically different than the final versions, like "Turn of the Century".
This version of "TOTS" is quite interesting. Apparently they originally tried to merge part of what would later become a tune on Chris' Fish Out of Water album- "Silently Falling" with the beginning verse that made it to the final version. There is no acoustic guitar on this version, unlike the final one.
The bonus cut of the tune "Going For The One" is very cool too as it has no lap steel, but is played only on electric guitar. A great deal of the licks he plays on the steel guitar are here on the electric. This is just a trio version and sounds as if the three of them (Howe, Squire and White) are in the same room as you! The bonus "Parallels" is interesting too as it is all chordal and the arrangement is quite different. You can see they thought the hook was a part that later became less relevant on the final version. It too sounds raw and immediate.
The bonus tracks on G4T1 were cut at a time when keyboardist Pat Moraz was still in the band. He helped write parts of this albums tunes, though he never gets credit. It seems they have mixed him out of the picture on the bonus cuts, but I can still hear some keys in the background on the new bonus cut of "Eastern Numbers" aka Awaken. Maybe it just bled through some other mics and they couldn't get rid of it, but I can hear some still there.
I am not sure this remaster sounds that much better than the previous one. The appeal here I think lies with the bonus tracks more than anything else. Not a must for casual fans, but enlightening to those that want to know more about the Yes creative process.