Friday, 28 March 2014

The Archivist Volume 2: YES - Going For The One


Picture if you will music lovers, an 11 year old boy attending his first day at Grammar School. It was like Tom Brown's Schooldays, with prefects that looked liked men and people nicking your cap and throwing it in the stream and cutting your tie with a scissors. The first day I sat down at my desk in my form room and saw those magical words hat had been carved on the desks  -CSNY - ELP & YES. What were these? School Houses? Magical Passwords? Thus began my journey into the world of Prog and YES. My brother, 12 years older than myself, had been my route into music. The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Association etc. So I had no older siblings to pass on the magical musical knowledge that had been the way since cavemen first beat a bone on a rock.

 I had to find my own path.

My introduction to YES was the Fragile album. Those complicated songs, those technically brilliant musical passages, that extremely high Accrington accented voice. Then, as I hit Grammar school, in 1972 came Close To The Edge. THE Prog Rock album of all time. My friend's brother had a copy (I couldn't afford albums then) so I taped it (remember that!!) and played it to death!!!
I was smitten, I was hooked, I fell in love. And it's been like a marriage ever since. We've had our ups and downs, we've had our extra marital musical affairs but YES and I have always gone back to each other. 

I've ALWAYS bought every Yes album ever since - on the first day of release - without even hearing them.

Jon Anderson always said that YES music was bigger than the band. He's right. With personnel changes galore over the years, the band has changed both in personal and musical ways but the music will live on.

So, why have I chosen to highlight Going For The One.
Well, a few reasons really.

Following the overblown and fractured beauty that was 1973s Tales Of Topographic Oceans (aka the album that killed Prog) - keyboard maestro Rick Wakeman decided that enough was enough and jumped ship. This brought in Swiss keyboard player Patrick Moraz for the follow up album Relayer in 1974.

Relayer was a magnificent beast. Full of unrelenting rhythms and sometimes jazz oriented sounds and phrases, it as the polar opposite of Topographic Oceans. Perhaps that was what the band needed. But following the Relayer album and tour the YES boys decided it was time to follow their individual paths and each member produced a solo album.

Moraz then left the band.

I used to subscribe to the music magazine Melody Maker and I remember as if it were yesterday walking up to the papershop early on that December morning, sun shining, and looking in amazement at the headline when the newsagent handed over the copy. I almost burst out crying. "Wakeman Rejoins Yes". I rushed home and must have reread the article over and over again as it described how YES were in Mountain Studios in Montreux working on what was going to be their new album Going For The One.

So I waited months until the first notes of the title track were heard - I think on The Old Grey Whistle Test. 
The release must be put into context. The album was released at the height of Punk in the UK in July 1977. 
The band had been renergised by the new music happening in the UK.

When have you ever heard a YES album begin with, One Two Three Four??
The opening title track was a burst of energy with Steve Howe's wailing slide guitars and Jon Andesron's lyrics finally coming down to earth to sing about, of all things, sport.
The album went straight to number 1 in the UK. So much for Punk sweeping away the old guard. 

With a new cover designer, Hipgnosis rather than the usual Roger Dean (and one which Wakeman entitled Going For The Bum) - it was a new chapter for the band.

The band even had a hit single with the delicate Wonderous Stories their first single release since 1971's Roundabout.

The reception by the fans was one of absolute joy. This was the classic YES line up, back on the top of their game and releasing what is often quoted as the album of their career.

Following the 3 song Relayer - Going For The One gives us 5 songs and includes the crown jewel of the entire YES catalogue - the mighty AWAKEN. This was the track that enticed Wakey to rejoin the band. It is a tour de force and includes everything a YES fan could ask for. 

By the way, the church organ from Vevey cathedral which Rick Wakeman plays was recorded over the phone line - thought you'd like to know that.

I remember the review for the album. either in Sounds or Melody Maker and the journo pointed out that his girlfriend, who had never been a YES fan, even cried at the end of Awaken when she first heard it. Yes, it is that moving- especially live.

I've actually worn out two vinyl copies of the album and bought at least 3 copies of the CD.

The album is also part of the current 3 Albums tour which is coming to the UK in May, with new vocalist Jon Davison. And it's gong to be a gem of a tour and I'll be there.

So once again a big Thank You to everyone who has felt like reading a page or two of the blog. I never thought I'd get 100 views, let alone 10,000. I hope it's opened up some old music for you to investigate and shown you some new music to search out and some artists who are worthy of your time to see live. 


Twitter - @yesofficial 

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