Going For The One **
Turn Of The Century *****
Wonderous Stories ****
Alan White - Drums
Jon Anderson - Vocals & Harp
Rick Wakeman - Keyboards
Chris Squire - Bass
Steve Howe - Guitars
Artwork - Hipgnosis
Producer - Brian Lane
Recording Location - Eglis des Planches, Montreux, Switzerland.
For the recording of Going for the One Yes decided to move camp to Montreux, Switzerland and the move paid off big time. One thing that is noticeable is the overall 'sheen' applied to the album thanks to John Timperley and Dave Richards. This album was a return to form for the band. It consists of just five tracks - 2 mediocre pieces and 3 masterpieces. Wakeman had decided to rejoin the band after hearing the initial rough demos. His contribution to this album is immense and I can't help but feeling he must have been under tremedous pressure to deliver. And he did - in spectacular fashion. I remember that Melody Maker rated this as the second best album of 1977 only beaten by Emerson Lake & Palmer's Works Volume 1. One thing often missed by fans of this album is the highly unorthodox bass playing provided by Chris Squire throughout the album. On this album he breaks away from the normal bass structures completely and treats the bass as a solo instrument and steers away from playing the normal root to underpin the guitar or keyboard chords. Artwork for the album was provided by the legendary Hipgnosis studio - a departure from their familiar covers normally designed by Roger Dean, although the Dean-designed Yes logo remains.
Going For The One
Starting off with a classic rock 'n roll riff this track quickly develops into a full blown prog rock roller coaster of a song. One thing I dislike about this track is the constant repetition of lyrics towards the end of the track. Steve is using the pedal steel throughout this piece and after a while it gets on my nerves. Wakeman is making his presence felt by injecting elaborate fills and runs in the spaces left by the other players. A raunchy piece but not a great track by any stretch of the imagination. 4/10
Turn of the Century
Steve Howe's magnificent guitar work is at the heart of this track. The track both opens and closes with magical fingerpicking from Steve's nimble fingers. Although it sounds like a classical guitar at times it is in fact a steel string acoustic. The vocals and guitar complement each other perfectly. This is the track I play more than any other in my collection and I never tire of it. It is also the only one of Jon Anderson's lyrics that make any sense to me. Most of his other songs are totally incomprehensible. There is an interlude after the initial few verses where Mr Wakeman steps up to the plate on the grand piano and delivers once again. The rhythymn of the piece changes completely into a foray of electric guitar vs piano pyrotechnics. This then settles into a more familiar rhythmn with more vocals from Jon. Steve must have greased his fingers to achieve the speeds he does on this particular section. This then softens (complete with magnificent china cymbal sweeps) and eventually the piece dissolves into a lone acoustic piece. If music is an artform then this is a Rembrandt or a Carvaggio. Quite fitting as this song is about a man trying to sculpt the perfect statue of his lover/wife/girlfriend but is only able to do so once she dies. Prog Rock Tragedy at it's very best. Incidentally written by the drummer Alan White even though there is very little in the drumming department. Jon's finest moment with Yes. Haunting, beautiful and tragic. 10/10
The weakest track on the album. To me this is just a space filler and totally over the top. While Mr White does a fine job of the drumming duties the rest is totally overblown and really isn't going anywhere. Rick utilises the pipe organ once again but it is overdone - there's only so much of this you can listen to at once. To have it continuing through the whole track is a mistake. Chris plods on relentlessly but he is restricted by the direction of the piece. The lyrics are crap. 3/10
The most commercially accessible track on the album. Once again Wakeman delivers the goods and his swirling keyboard work is nothing short of brilliant here. As with all the tracks on the album the recording quality is superb. You can hear the rivets rattling in the cymbals in the opening chords. The delayed harmony backing vocals were a stroke of genius. Some imaginative plucking from Steve to lead the piece to it's end. All in all a very pleasant affair. As 'easy listening' as you are ever going to get from Yes. I find this track quite inspirational for some or other reason - 'drifting I turned on upstream, bound for my forgiver' strikes a chord with me??!! 8/10
For me personally 'Awaken' is the best single piece of music ever produced by Yes where the whole band are showcased. An epic track with many twist and turns along the way. It starts off with some dramatic piano work from Wakeman and then floats off into an ambient sea of keyboards accompanied by Andersons's high pitched vocals. There is a lot of audio processing on the vocals and instruments in the first part of the track. Plenty of echo and phasing to create a dream-like state. And suddenly it explodes into Yes in top gear. Chris and Alan are holding the whole lot together while the rest of the band are hammering away at their parts. A brief interlude with Steve at his best and back to the relentless rhythmn again. Jon's vocals are soaring at this point while Ricks keyboards are weaving in and out of the piece left, right and centre and then the moog comes in to change the whole direction of the piece and lead it to another plane altogether. The pipe organ comes in again and creates a medieval sound. Then the track just slows and stops. A simple rhythmn played on crotales provides a hypnotic 'beat' around which Wakeman paints a surreal picture with repetetive, descending runs on a pipe organ. Jon adds a small harp accompaniment which fits perfectly while Rick's keyboards just swell more and more. The highlight of the album, The wizardry of Wakeman at his absolute best. This part of the track is visionary. An aural orgasm. Some choir parts help to lift this to the realm of the celestial. The band then return to more familiar territory with some clever understated drumming from Mr White. Steve breaks loose with another solo. Wakewman brings the whole thing to an apocalyptic climax with masterful runs up the keyboard and into the final explosion. The final part of the piece is a combination of swirling ambient keyboards, processed guitar which ebbs and flows in and out of the piece, while Jon closes out the last few verses. Some thunder-like rolls on the drums (or is it a timpani) and the album is over, courtesy of a few jazz licks from Steve. What do you play after this? - nothing. Because nothing else comes close. 9/10 .
My favourite Yes album (but not their best album) because of the three tracks - Wonderous Stories, Awaken & Turn of the Century. They have never written anything to match these three pieces and probably never will.