Tormato (1978)

1. Future Times/Rejoice 2. Don't Kill the Whale 3. Madrigal 4. Release, Release 5. Arriving U.F.O. 6. Circus of Heaven 7. Onward 8. On the Silent Wings of Freedom


The first bit of irony that comes to my mind when I think of this record is that, although the band’s name is ‘Yes’, I kept screaming ‘No’ as I was listening to this album. The second bit of irony is that the album cover also adequately represents how I felt while listening to the record – I wanted to throw rotten fruit at it. This was definitely one of the lowest points of the band’s career. It’s sad since it just came out after the highly favorable Going for the One, and since there weren’t any lineup changes from that album (rare for this band), you would expect for this thing to sound somewhat decent.

For the most part, the band simply sounds lost without having solid ideas of what they are trying to accomplish. A big part of the problem is Rick Wakeman’s keyboards. They’re simply too bombastic on this record. The keyboards were also prevalent on Going for the One, but those additions were welcome and actually added to the overall quality of the record. Here, all the keyboard sounds simply give one a headache.

In a weird perverted way, listening to many of these songs make you feel like you’re at some sort of downtown parade, where the musicians are all marching by. This parade, though, features loud, obnoxious progressive instruments, with very little care given to such details as song melody. Particularly guilty of this offense are songs such as Release, Release and Future Times/Rejoice. Multiple listens to either one of these tracks reveal nothing at all worth remembering. The former track has an Alan White drum solo thrown into it for no apparent reason other than to throw a drum solo in the middle of the record. It even has a stadium crowed piped in to somehow add to the ambiance. As good a drummer as Alan White is, the whole idea is quite stupid.

There are a couple of tracks where Rick Wakeman is trying (too hard) to replicate sounds of a word in the title. Witness the horrible Don’t Kill the Whale and the so-so Arriving UFO. When one listens closely (and it really is a shame that one should have to listen closely) you can hear “whale” sounds and “UFO” sounds. Maybe synthesizers and keyboards were still too primitive back in 1978, but the effects are quite cheesy. Although I do confess that Arriving UFO really isn’t that bad of a track.

Now I never pay much attention to lyrics when I listen to a Yes album, but Circus of Heaven actually might have been a decent song if the music had matched the lyrics. Because the music is so bad, again, the whole song sounds very cheesy. It doesn’t help when we get a little boy’s voice (apparently Jon Anderson’s son) express his disappointment that the circus isn’t a real circus with lions and bears. If that makes little sense, well, you really have to hear the songs. Better yet, it’s probably better that you don’t.

Onward is actually a very nice, soft piece (which comes as a surprise since there’s very little ‘soft’ anything) and Silent Wings of Freedom would have sounded much better if it had not been the last song of such a dreadful album. Well, it probably didn’t surprise anyone to learn that the band was about to undergo yet another personnel shakeup. It would be even a bigger one this time.

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