The punk music movement was in full flower when Yes released their first studio album in three years on July 22, 1977. The sound of Yes represented much of what punk music was against, but it didn’t matter, as fans of the band made Going For The One a huge commercial success. The album topped the album charts in their home country and reach number eight in the United States.
Rick Wakeman returned to the band after being absent for their previous release, Relayer. This would mean that Patrick Moraz’ tenure would only include one studio album. While Wakeman will be forever associated with the band and has been instrumental to their sound and success, I personally found Moraz’ playing interesting as he fit in well. After his departure from Yes, he went on to be a member of the Moody Blues for 13 years.
This album may not have been as ambitious as many of their prior releases, but it was just as good in its own way. Four of the five tracks ranged in length from just under four minutes to just shy of eight. There was only one extended track, but it was one of the best of the band’s career.
The title song was the lead track on the original vinyl release, and it’s about as controlled as Yes gets. Steve Howe’s slide guitar near the end is eye-opening and worth the price of admission for this rocker. Some nice, tight harmonies are also featured.
“Turn Of The Century” is typical Yes. A haunting and majestic ballad, it is one of their more melodic creations, lulling you as it draws you into the music. “Parallels” represents Yes in the studio at their best, and it’s notable for its multiple layering of vocals and instrumentation. The highlight is Rick Wakeman playing a church organ, which helps the song soar. Incidentally, it is the only Chris Squire composition for which he takes a solo writing credit.
“Wonderous Stories” is a Jon Anderson composition and is another melodic, mystical ballad. It is one of those occasions where Anderson keeps a lot of his excessive impulses under control and produces a nice, tight song.
The final track is the 15-and-a-half-minute “Awaken,” which remains one of the best creations of their long career. Wakeman is back at the organ and brings along a church choir for good measure. The rhythms are complex and the overall playing is some of the band’s most technically adept ever.
Going For The One is many times an under-appreciated masterpiece in the large Yes catalogue. It contains some of the most accessible music of their career, though, and is an essential listen for understanding their music.