YES — Tormato (review)

YES — Tormato album cover Album · 1978 · Jazz Related Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Prog Zone
Review - #10 (Yes - Tormato)

Tormato is the ninth studio album released by Yes that follows up their previous album, Going for the One. It was released in September of 1978 and is their last album for quite some time that would have both singer Jon Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman together before their departure from the band in 1980. The rest of the musicians present include Steve Howe on guitar, Chris Squire on bass, Alan White on drums, and Andrew Pryce Jackman who is credited with orchestrations and arrangements on two of the songs on the album. Tormato seems to generally get mixed reviews by the progressive rock community, which corresponds to how I feel about the album when listening to it. My opinion on it seems to differ every few months. At one moment, I feel as if this album is underrated, and at the next moment I feel like it is overrated (if it even can be). There are some truly great moments found on this album, but they are surrounded by a sort of mediocracy that persists through the entire listening experience. I feel as if any of these tracks were put on Going for the One, they would have fit almost perfectly. However, the biggest difference between Tormato and Going for the One is that this album doesn't have an Awaken to back it up. Still, I do believe that there is more here than reviewers give it credit for.

The first song on the album, Future Times / Rejoice, is my favorite on Tormato. Now, that doesn't mean it is equal to the greatness of Heart of the Sunrise or Starship Trooper, but within Tormato it is my personal highlight. Interestingly enough, it features Chris Squire playing bass with a Mu-Tron pedal effect which adds a very interesting element to the track. In fact, both Steve Howe and Alan White also do a great job within their respective roles here. Overall, it is a wonderful track that I continue to find myself returning to. Next, we are greeted to Don't Kill The Whale which is the single of the album. Despite preconceptions, the song is somewhat nice. Containing the best keyboard work from Rick Wakeman found throughout the entire album. Rick Wakeman once said that the keyboard solo involved him adapting a sound that he had configured on his Polymoog which produced "weird sounds" that resembled a whale, interesting. The next song on the album is Madrigial and it is simple yet not disappointing. I got what I expected when hearing it was a form of English evening song that features Rick Wakeman on harpsichord. Jon Anderson does some beautiful vocals here, but that seems to be persistent throughout the entire album. I believe he is the largest saving grace on Tormato. He really gives it his all! The last song on Side A on the vinyl is Release, Release. This song has a great energy to it that I am somewhat fond of. The instrumental section includes a crowd cheering with the guitar and drum solo, which Wakeman reasoned was added because it "sounded a bit dry" on its own. He recalled the crowd was taken from an English football match. In addition, Atlantic Records president Ahmet Ertegun visited Yes in the studio and heard "Release, Release", which he liked and suggested the whole album sound like it. However, the song was slightly difficult for Anderson to sing on stage as the many high notes in the song strained his voice, and it was dropped early into the tour. Overall, a good song!

Side B of the album is where most of the faults come in. It begins with Arriving UFO which is based on a tune that Anderson had developed while watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind twice. Wakemen's keyboard sounds on this song haven't aged all that well and come across as annoying at points. Nevertheless, it is not bad by any means. I just feel as if the song had a lot of potential, but it was released underdeveloped. The track leaves a lot to be desired. Circus of Heaven is up next, and it tells the story of a travelling fantasy circus and its visit to a Midwestern town, featuring unicorns, centaurs, elves, and fairies. Its direction came from Anderson's pursuit to write songs aimed at children and gained inspiration from a book by Ray Bradbury. This is definitely the weakest track on the album, both Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman don't do their best work here. Not to mention, the ending keyboards are absolutely dreadful and doesn't fit the mood of the song at all. Onward on the other hand, is a truly superb ballad only credited to Chris Squire! It features orchestral arrangements by Andrew Pryce Jackman, who had worked with Squire as a member of The Syn and on Squire's solo album Fish Out of Water. Squire later considered "Onward" as one of the best songs he ever wrote. It is a truly moving song that is the best ballad Yes ever wrote. Lastly, we have On the Silent Wings of Freedom which includes Chris Squire playing with a Mu-Tron Envelope Shaper effect. This song seems somewhat aimless and doesn't really go anywhere. Not to mention, Rick Wakeman's keyboards sometimes verges on the edge of becoming a dog whistle. Despite those complaints, it's still a good song but feels underdeveloped similar to Arriving UFO.

Overall, Tormato is not an album you need to rush out to hear despite it being a pleasant listen. This album isn't bad by any means and is still better then anything I think I could ever write, just when compared to what came in the past this album doesn't really hold up as well. A good album containing generally good performances by some of the best musicians of all time. But Tormato is not particularly essential.

- π˜›π˜©π˜ͺ𝘴 𝘳𝘦𝘷π˜ͺ𝘦𝘸 𝘸𝘒𝘴 𝘰𝘳π˜ͺ𝘨π˜ͺ𝘯𝘒𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘸𝘳π˜ͺ𝘡𝘡𝘦𝘯 𝘧𝘰𝘳 π˜—π˜³π˜°π˜¨ 𝘈𝘳𝘀𝘩π˜ͺ𝘷𝘦𝘴 (
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