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Going For The One is 40! 297

Produced by Preston Frazier, Bill Govier, Wayne Hall and Michel Arsenault.

The last album in the main sequence turns 40 this year so we take another look at it this week. There’s also the news of the 50th Anniversary and Mark reviews a Bill Bruford record.

  • What do we think of Going for the One today?
  • Is the production good?
  • What about live recordings?

Listen to the episode then let us know what you think!

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Theme music

The music I use is the last movement of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. This has been used as introduction music at many Yes concerts. My theme music is not take from a live concert – I put it together from the following two creative commons sources: thanvannispen and

31 replies on “Going For The One is 40! 297”

Love this album very well made and I must say a great live show
Hard to believe it’s been 40 years already however time fly’s
Great show as always
I think you both have said it all!

Paul Tomei

GFTO is probably my favorite Yes album! Great episode as always!
But here’s a question for discusion…….. why is Tormato not considered part of ‘the main sequence’?

Yeah – I would consider it a ‘main sequence’ album what with it still being the classic lineup. Possibly because it’s just not considered to be one of the Great Yes Albums? (Kevin’s opinion notwithstanding!)

I agree – I would end the main sequence with Tormato. Historically it makes sense to include it. Artistically might be another story but it has some solid material on it. Re-releasing it with a new cover might be the answer 🙂

I’d like to know when and by whom was the idea of a “Main Sequence” even established? It seems to me to be a modern construct which has no rhyme nor reason. Much like the RRHOF 🙁

I think you can blame Usenet and for those kinds of historical reconstructions. Those ‘main sequence’ Usenet debates were endless.

Good point. It’s one of those expressions which has become standard but I’m not sure I like it.

Am happy to say that I saw Yes at the Empire Pool, Wembley (now Wembley Arena) on Wednesday, October 26, 1977 – one of six triumphant nights at Wembley after two years touring in America . A great setlist featuring songs from both Close To The Edge and Going For The One:
Firebird Suite
I’ve Seen All Good People
Close To The Edge
Wonderous Stories
Colours Of The Rainbow
Turn Of The Century
Tour Song
And You And I
Going For The One
Flight Jam
Starship Trooper

Great show chaps. Excellent discussion about GFTTO. As I’ve commented before the arrangement & production on both the title track and Parallels are awful. I confess that until Kevin mentioned it in the podcast, I’d not paid attention to who produced this album. Now I know why it’s a mess. I’d love to hear the whole thing remixed by someone with an ear and no agenda.
It was good to hear Kevin’s review of the music, song, by song as well as Mark’s of the technical stuff. I am more of the opinion that this is where Howe lost the plot. Too many notes!
This album does indeed have The Yes Album feel about it with the mix of song types. The cover is an abomination, the one which Hipgnosis must have churned out on a friday afternoon.
The album I bought on the day of its release is in dark red vinyl. I remember the guy in the record shop when putting it into its sleeve saying to me that I was one of the lucky ones as mine was coloured. It looked normal to me. It was only months if not more later that one day putting it on there was a light behind it showing it as a coloured disc. Awesome. I sent a picture of it to Kevin some years ago for a podcast about memorabilia.
Getting back to the content, Awaken is obviously the crowning glory, perhaps even Yes’ Magnum Opus. I remember being blown away by it back then and still to this day. The other strong songs for me were Turn of the Century and the eponymous song which got the album off to a rocking start, a total surprise back then. They were having a lot of fun. For me, it had a feel good factor, more than the sum of its parts.
Now I tend towards feeling rather different. The sound is so fatiguing that Awaken is the sole survivor. It is testimony to a great song that it survives in spite of adversity. To be fair to them, it is not so badly produced as the rest of the album. I agree with you Kevin that it needs the Steven Wilson remedy.

By the way Mark, Glasgow is pronounced Glaz go. Great review of the show though. I had no idea that there were any recordings of that tour. I must check it out.

The multitrack maste tapes for this and Tormato – and possibly others – are missing; he said Tales was the end for now until they turn up.

Oh wow… now I need to replace the cry face emoji with the sobbing uncontrollably in fetal position emoji.

PS – how does one lose the master tapes of a band as popular and successful as Yes?

Amazing when you consider how everything is now in multiple electronic copies all over the internet within moments of being released!

Well, then – despite this week’s rather tragic developments, I feel compelled to comment on the current episode. . .

‘Going For The One’ – NOT my favorite Yes album; that distinguished title belongs to Topographic Oceans. NOT the Yes album I have played more than any other: that’d be ‘Relayer.’ BUT: GFTO is, I think, the absolute pinnacle of their studio recordings. Composition, arrangement, recording, production and – most importantly – attention to detail… long ago I determined that each individual song on this album is, in it’s own way, a masterpiece of progressive rock. Whatever your Progressive Rock question, the answer is ‘Yes,” and the answer to “what is the ultimate Yes studio album?” is ‘Going For The One.’

My first experience with Yes live was in August of 1976 – the tail end of the Relayer/Solo Albums tour, by which time they had pretty much dispensed with the solo stuff, except for the obligatory Steve Howe moment, and Patrick Moraz keyboard extravaganza. August 1st, 1976, Las Vegas, the Aladdin Theater for Performing Arts (seating capacity 8,000) – I was in the front of the balcony, stage right. There was an opening act: Renaissance, continuing their tour sans orchestra into the U.S. What a privilege it was to have seen them live at their peak. Then, the main attraction, smoke, fog, lasers, full-on Roger Dean stage setup (three-headed dragon and everything)… opening with Apocalypse from And You And I into Siberian Khatru, then Sound Chaser, I’ve Seen All Good People, The Gates of Delirium, Long Distance Runaround, Patrick’s keyboard solo with bits of “i,” On Wings of Gold/Clap by Steve, then – technical difficulties with the keyboard setup so – a harp solo by Jon, then, Heart of the Sunrise and – the closer – Ritual (the Insane Patrick Moraz version). Encore: Roundabout. 20 minute standing ovation AFTER the house lights came up and… Encore #2: they came back out and did the Beatles’ ‘I’m Down.’

Not so very much longer after that, I read – probably in Hit Parader magazine – these five words (and no more): “Rick Wakeman has rejoined Yes.”

Well, THAT was something to anticipate!

I’m pretty sure I had tickets for the show BEFORE the album was released in July. I don’t know how many times I played GFTO before I saw the tour – at that point I was working full time, AND still in high school. . . “GFTO is 40! #297,” so that makes me 57 – yep, the math works! Trying to figure out how to pretend I was an “adult” while still living at home with my parents. . .

September 27, 1977, same venue one year later – this time I was stage left in the eleventh row(!). Again, an opening act: Donavan (Leitch) – I think he may even have done Alice Cooper’s ‘Billion Dollar Babies,’ (he sings on the album version). . .

The Main Attraction: no more Roger Dean artscapes, I just remember the stage being very bright and colorful. I was on the “Rick” side of the stage – his keyboard setup seemed to take up an entire third of the stage! Two Mellotrons, and perched atop each, a miniMoog; the redoubtable Hammond B3 – facing the audience so that Rick could, as well; probably two polymoogs; an electronic piano of some sort and an actual, full size concert grand piano – on risers, so he could play it standing up… there must have been more, as I remember counting AT LEAST 13 keyboards. Chris wore his black and white suit, Jon was wearing Jon things, Steve was in his full-on seventies prog guitar god gear, Alan in a blue/gray short-sleeved jumpsuit – immersed in his kit – presaging Neil Peart’s 360 degree rotating kit by a decade, at least, with his normal kit and the one featuring the ‘North’ toms behind… I’m pretty sure he had to be manually rotated at some point in the show…

The Firebird, followed by Parallels, I’ve Seen All Good People, Close To The Edge, Wonderous Stories, Turn Of The Century , And You And I, something they call ‘Tour Song,’ which was just an improvisational jam with Jon mostly talking/singing about the tour so far, leading into Going For The One, then “Flight Jam”: at the show I saw, this was an Alan White drums/percussion solo (he also had his vibraphone – more on that later – and two tympani, a la Carl Palmer, on stage) which then morphed into an Alan White/Rick Wakeman duet which then became Rick on Grand Piano leading into ‘Awaken.’ Which was – DUH – the show closer. . . followed by Starship Trooper and Roundabout. . . I went out behind the venue and did actually get to see Rick walk out of the theater and into a limo. . .

I really can’t recall the actual show itself, except for going absolutely insane and giving myself over entirely to the YesNess of it all when they went into Close To The Edge. . .

So, as for the album itself…? Going For The One (the song) is a five and one half minute Steve Howe pedal steel guitar guitar solo, surrounded by some Yes musicianship and Jon Anderson lyrics. Rick is actually a member of the rhythm section in this song, pounding out chords on his piano as if his life depends on it.

Turn Of The Century is a Steve Howe acoustic guitar experiment brought to fulfillment by Jon’s lyrics, vocal performance and storytelling. The use of – what I can only assume is the – natural reverb provided by the studio manages to simultaneously expand and focus the instrumentation of the piece, only enhanced by Rick and Steve’s mastery of composition and thematic arrangement.

Parallels sounds exactly like what it is: a piece left over from Chris’ solo work, re-worked and adapted for the Yes paradigm. It’s a hard rocking prog masterpiece, protected into hyper-prog masterspace by the simple inclusion of a church organ. And you can sing along with it, to boot!

Wonderous Stories (or Wondrous Stories) is the least masterpieceful track of this collection, but, compared to anything else released around the same time, stands proudly on it’s own, as a single release that no one ever thought would happen… especially in 1977!

And so, Awaken. . . I mentioned earlier the Attention To Detail on this album… listen to Awaken on headphones: “High Vibration Go On…” is right there in the center of your forehead , while Jon’s words reverb around you, circling overhead as you fall into the hypnotic genius of this song. . . Kevin, as a drummer, I always find myself trying to figure out just What The Hell Time Signature is going on, and, in this case, after the ‘High Vibration’ bit it seems to be 11/4. . . or is it 11/8? . . . me not just be that smart!

I saw this album performed in it’s entirety again, March 1st, 2013, at the OPENING NIGHT of the Three Album Tour (of which we only got TWO albums!), at the Peppermill Concert Hall in West Wendover, NV, – Jon D was, by this time, pretty well established as the New Singer, and Chris was still with us. . .

They opened the show with all of The Yes Album, including ‘The Prophet,’ and then went straight into GFTO…

Turn Of The Century, with Steve and Jon D. and, eventually, Geoff and Chris and Alan was absolutely stunning – a high point of the show, and the tour, and I’m pretty sure even Jeremy North would agree that this performance was a high point of the evening, if only from the Bristol DVD performance.

Of all of the seemingly endless available variants of ‘Awaken’ from various tours that are available on YouTube, and the various versions available on officially released Yes albums, etc, etc, etc, . . . pretty much NO single performance of ‘Awaken’ has ever lived up to the version on the GFTO studio album. . . no matter whether the keyboardist was Rick, or Oliver, or Igor. . . etc. . .

. . .except that Geoff Downes, in the spirit of recreating the original album versions of these songs – undoubtedly at the behest of Steve Howe – has, IMHO, created the BEST and most literally perfect live recreations of the original version of ‘Awaken’ available currently available on DVD or the internet for public consumption, Rick Wakeman, Oliver Wakeman and Igor Khrorshev be damned! GO GEOFF!

Kevin: regarding ‘tuned percussion’ as credited on the album. . . NO, that is most definitely NOT a glockenspiel on ’Turn Of The Century,’ – it is a vibraphone – – think “metal marimba,” (which could be a great name for a Mexican metal band!?!) with the “vibra” part (a series of mechanically rotated butterfly valves in the pipes), turned off and set fully open, revealing an otherworldly degree of sustain, with the natural reverb effect used to full effect by Alan with the full reverb assault of Mountain Studios…

Going For The One is Forty… and I am 57. . . and still, this album stands atop the entire mountain of Progressive Rock music, daring all who might try to challenge it’s primacy, defeating any and all comers who pretend to think that they might topple the Greatest of All Progressive Rock albums ever recorded. . .

…and I got to see it live, in it’s original form, and again, thirty years on…

…so, yeah, I think it’s pretty good. . .

Excellent review Joseph, not just of the studio album but also of the live experiences. I need to dig out the Bristol DVD again. New York has been named more times than I’ve watched that show. When I do so, I’ll have halved the cost per viewing 🙂

Great episode Kevin and Mark …. could you do a little follow up on the “extra” tracks that were released in 2003? Or maybe just pick a couple and talk about them. If CD had been around then with its longer format, probably Montreux’s Theme and Vevey would have made it onto the album.
“Montreux’s Theme”
“Vevey (Revisited)”
“Amazing Grace”
“Going for the One (Rehearsal)”
“Parallels (Rehearsal)”
“Turn of the Century (Rehearsal)”
“Eastern Numbers (Early Version of “Awaken”)”

I saw Yes in San Diego on September 25 1977 (thank you Forgotten Yesterdays!).
My seats were 10 rows up from the right side of the stage facing the stage. While the sound wasn’t to good it was an excellent vantage point to watch them work. I could see Wakeman moving around his keyboards, Squire and Howe working the bass pedals and electronic boxes, White focused on playing the drums with power and precision, and Anderson floating around it all. ‘Awaken’ left a big impression on me. It was fantastic.

Always enjoy Kevin’s immensely articulate album reviews but I think he outdoes himself with GftO. I perhaps would have said more about the lyrics, but very well done indeed.

Though a strong case could be made for CttE or Tales, GftO is my favorite Yes album. We get everything Yes was capable of all in one place, and Awaken is arguably the most beautiful song in their catalogue.

The whole album strikes me as what Fragile could have been had they jettisoned the solo pieces. It’s too bad really that Yes music (in the popular culture) was past its prime by 1977, and I agree with Kevin that they could ended their career immediately after and we wouldn’t have lost much of lasting value.


Kevin, you have outdone yourself in your review of GTFO! Your best ever! Do you write these before you record them?

My first Yes concert was in 1977 at Madison Square Garden for the GFTO tour. Great show, but oddly by then they had dropped the song GFTO!

Steve Howe plays a Fender pedal steel guitar; he does not play slide guitar like Duane Allman did. He does play a lap steel on his albums, but live it’s a pedal steel twin neck. In the Glasgow show, I think the use of a Fender Strat is normal given the songs. He played a Strat on Parallels on the record, so he plays one live. On both CTTE and ToTC he is playing his usual Gibson live. He plays the Tele on the second half of Awaken. The interesting thing is that he is playing a Rickenbacker 12-string on the first part of Awaken (now he plays a Steinberger 12-string). I’ve never seen him play a Rick 12 string live before!

Brian – one nit to pick – Steve doesn’t play a pedal steel guitar. Just a steel guitar. His has no pedals.
I’ve always been in awe of good pedal steel players since they have to have a pretty complex set of chord structures in their heads when they play.

We’re both right? 🙂 I did some checking. The Fender Twin Neck is not a pedal steel, but he did play one on To Be Over and Awaken (studio?) according to the YouTube video of his and Chris’ rig rundown. Not clear if he used the pedals or not.

Good catch, Brian. I am fascinated enough with the pedal steel that I find it hard to believe that Steve wouldn’t have to at least tried it out a couple of times. I found one of two country bends that I could do on the pedal steel but beyond that was really hard. A friend had one that took a long time to set up and was SO HARD to play that he never really did it (although he was a lot better at it than I ever was.)

Thank you Brian. It was fun to do. I do indeed write them all out first (labour of love). Fascinating technical details so thanks!

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