The Yes Album vs. Going For The One – 453

Produced by Jeffrey Crecelius, Wayne Hall, Preston Frazier and Bill Govier

Going For The One and its singles
Going For The One and its singles

Unfortunately, both I and Mark have been a bit under the weather this week but we recovered in time to listen to two classic Yes albums and record our thoughts. There’s also time for a few thoughts about Jon Anderson’s new very controversial song!

  • How do these two albums compare?
  • What changed between them?
  • What is Jon Anderson up to now?

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

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Show notes and links:

YMP Patrons:


  • Jeffrey Crecelius
  • Preston Frazier
  • Bill Govier and
  • Wayne Hall


Aaron Steelman

Dave Owen

Mark James Lang

Paul Tomei

Joost Maglev

David Heyden

Martin Kjellberg

Paul Wilson

Bob Martilotta


Michael O’Connor

William Hayes
Brian Sullivan

David Pannell

Miguel Falcão

Lobate Scarp

Chris Bandini

David Watkinson

Neal Kaforey

Rachel Hadaway

Craig Estenes


Paul Hailes

Mark ‘Zarkol’ Baggs

Doug Curran

Robert Nasir

Fergus Cubbage

Scott Colombo

Fred Barringer

Scott Smith
Geoff Bailie

Simon Barrow
Geoffrey Mason

Stephen Lambe

Guy R DeRome

Steve Dill

Henrik Antonsson

Steve Perry

Hogne Bø Pettersen

Steve Rode


Steve Scott

Jamie McQuinn

Steven Roehr

Ken Fuller

Terence Sadler

Michael Handerhan

Tim Stannard


Todd Dudley

John Cowan

Tony Handley

John Holden

Joseph Cottrell

John Parry

Keith Hoisington

John Thomson

Barry Gorsky

Alan Begg

Robert and David

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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

8 replies on “The Yes Album vs. Going For The One – 453”

Another delightful head-to-head comparison. Mark’s scoring system is classic. In the impact category I’d have to give the nod to The Yes Album because those big songs still get played on the radio (perhaps only on the occasional “Long Song Weekend”) and without this record we might never have heard of Yes. By contrast, in the songwriting category GFTO is quite amazing (I’m typing this as I listen yet again to “Awaken”).

What to say about this Jon Anderson song? To avoid being poisoned by the imagery I listened to it several times without watching the video and it’s pretty darn good! I like how he mixes progressive fundamentals with a more modern vibe and throws in some campy elements. I hope this video doesn’t kill the radio star, because musically he’s still very creative and clearly having a lot of fun!

Excellent episode guys, thanks as always for your weekly exploration of all things Yes. I love both albums but, for me, Going for the One is the finest album Yes produced. 5 fine tracks, no weak link and, in Turn of the Century and Awaken, two of the best Yes tracks of all time – both feature in my top 5. Agree with your comments about the production. Were they actively seeking a “ hit” with Wonderous Stories or was it simply something Anderson was inspired to write which wasn’t 10 minutes long – and which had musical integrity and was “ catchy” at the same time? Not sure. Thanks again and keep up the great work.

I speculate on the intersection between those who dogmatically say “no Jon no Yes” and those who now so dogmatically say “Jon should keep his nose out of politics”. If I actually had an affinity either of those groups, I might try to find out…

Ok, I was just as surprised as everyone else when Jon released this song. It was a bit unexpected. I mean, when Jon Anderson asks people to go and screw themselves, you are most likely to think there’s no hope left in the world.

However, music has ALWAYS been political. John Lennon, anyone? So I just don’t understand people who go “Leave politics out of the music!” Well, if you have that opinion, please don’t go to a Roger Waters concert…

Yes have made anti-war songs, an anti whale killing song, songs about peace, harmony and crack babies… this really isn’t something new.

However, this song isn’t very political, apart from encouraging people to vote in the original Facebook posting of the video. He’s just ranting against corrupt politicians who don’t care about the people they are serving. Hardly revolutionary, and if people are pissed off with Jon because of this, they never understood him as an artist to begin with.

I also disagree that this is an anti-Trump song, as a lot of people have claimed. The thumbnail for the video has Hilly Clinton in the background, for chrissakes. Bernie Sanders are there. Religious leaders. Refugees and rescuers…. it’s just a song where he says “screw you” to all those who let it go on. Religious leaders, politicians, statesmen and so on. He’s not saying “screw you” to us.

I love the song. The chorus stays in my head, and there’s a LOT of cool stuff going on during the bridge of the song. Two thumbs up from me.

Enjoyed this one guys and pleased you are both well. I do like the way Mark did the comparisons, one point in is just right I agree.

Quick point from last week I don’t agree with a lot of what you said however with this fanbase openness is definitely needed, we should be able to discuss anything at all.

Jon and his single, it’s not Olias 2 eh but it is new music. He can do what he wants he is a musician but Jon likes a laugh, his northerness and bold straight talking is creeping through there, shocking but at this stage in his life, he can get away with it. Look deeper and it’s a Jon message but take it to heart on one line and you miss the full picture. Again….you can’t stop Jon making music, good, bad or indifferent he makes his own music,what else is he to do? I mean, I hope I’m that cool in my 70s…Punk Anderson!!

On the comparison, two great albums and so different! I’m more likely to listen to TYA all the way through and to pull up GFTO for individual songs, FWIW
On Jon’s song, I liked it. I texted the link to my 20yr old. What’s all the fuss? The song is timely and energetic and even a touch transgressive because it says what lots of people feel. I did see it as anti-Trump and anti-conservative as much as anti-corruption. Maybe it’s the video. And as others have noted, is this at all surprising from someone like Jon?

I was born in 61 and so in terms of music, politics, education, culture and my cultural and political education through music I come very much from the era when the personal was considered to be political – feminism, the student movement, anti war demonstrations, CND, RAR, Gay Rights, equal pay for equal work, growing awareness of the ecological and geo-political impact of consumer choices etc etc. Competing ideas discussing how we should be in the world were literally everywhere. So I don’t see art as political or non-political any more than I see life as political or non political.

Few things in life surprise me more than when fans (especially American fans) of Neil Young, Dave Crosby, Roger Waters, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel or even Joe Stummer suddenly discover that the music they have been listening to for up to half a century or more is in many ways antithetical to their own politics.

Often they then get really cross about it and roll out the “keep politics out of music” Just shows how little people actually listen to lyrics! Plenty of people are probably walking around thinking that Bob Marley wrote winsome love songs and made island living party albums.

All that said, even though a lot of Yes lyrics are more sound poetry than literal or narrative, I think we can safely say that Yours Is No Disgrace is political, Don’t Kill The Whale is political and Shoot High Aim Low is political. That’s just three Yes songs off of the top of my head. Every song Jon has written about being kind to ourselves, to each other and to the planet is in essence political. So no one should be surprised that he might see the world from the kind of perspective that would view the GOP and the current president as anathema. Him being indifferent would be just as shocking in many ways as if he was seen on stage in a MAGA cap.

Also, to be cynical for a moment, election cycles are a period when a lot of artists suddenly feel a need to be explicit. Whether that is driven by conscience, conviction or marketing is for the audience to decide.

The song is ok. The video is maybe a bit glib. I am glad he feels it matters enough to make the statement and if ten people go out and vote who may have stayed at home then that alone would make it a worthwhile exercise. If I would boil Jon’s artistic philosophy down to its simplest form I would say his work is all about conscious engagement in what it is to be human and alive on this planet. This video sees to be all about that given what is currently going on in the world.

As for the two albums in question they were, as you suggest, both rebirth records for the band so they definitely have that in common.

Awaken is one of my favourite pieces of music in any genre and the 1977 and 1978 UK tours were phenomenal musical experiences but GFTO itself leaves me kind of cold as an album experience. The Yes Album is far stronger overall compositionally and is the more sonically coherent but it doesn’t have an Awaken (or an And You & I or a South Side Of The Sky) on it.

Listening to the podcast also made me think about the roles the keyboard players have played since the inception of the band. In the casual listener’s imagination Yes are (along with ELP) almost the archetypal keyboard laden Prog band – banks of Mini Moogs, Mellotrons, Hammonds and Clavinets, the capes, the mirrors, the quasi classical piano flourishes, the long solo spots etc etc. However I am not sure that is a true representation of what the band is really about.

This might not be a popular outlook but for me Yes is primarily a bass, guitar and vocal harmony led group.

Although Tony Kaye knits the early music together beautifully and gives the mid range some serious drive, that focus on guitars and vocals really comes across in the first three records.

Rick meanwhile is primarily a solo artist (and session player) who dropped in a couple of times to help the band make three of the best albums in their catalogue. On the other side of the coin he also went a long way to undermining what could have been one their signature creative achievement.

Pat Moraz stopped by for a very short period of time to contribute massively to what I think of as their definitive “art statement”.

That is seven Yes albums in a little over half a century where it really matters who is occupying the keyboard chair. By “matters” I mean in terms of how the compositions are structured and the architecture of the record. In all their other non-main sequence records the Rabin / Howe division is far and away the bigger determining factor in terms of what the records sound like. Squire is the thread the unites all the music whether it is Yes proper, Cinema or Union. Who really cares who is playing what on Drama or Talk or 90210 or(sorry Kevin) Tormato? Not me that’s for sure.

So in a way Yes Album and GFTO are the book ends of a period when it really was a five piece with all instruments contributing equally. Before and after that seems to me to be far less the case and the other instrumentalists very much led the line.

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