YESTormatoLet me start this one out with a disclaimer (of sorts):  I have no problem with Tormato.  And not that I think it’s in the same class as earlier works such as  Close To The Edge, Relayer, Fragile, Going For The One, or even Tales From Topographic Oceans.  But I do recognize that it’s not extraordinary craftwork even of it has some excellent tracks like “Arriving UFO”, “Circus Of Heaven”, and “Don’t Kill The Whale”.

I’m saddened in a way that I don’t pull it out as often as I do those earlier sets.  I listened to it on the eve of supposed destruction (12/21), and reaffirmed to myself that, yes, it deserves being heard.  But still, in some way, I know that YES changed a little too much for me with this album.

Howe’s guitars are as inspired as ever in this album as ever (listen to the excellent “On The Silent Wings Of Freedom”.  Squire’s bass, and White’s drumming are up to the task, and Wakeman’s keyboards still light it up.  Jon Anderson’s vocal work is as good as the material allows him to be.

My concern is that the album was far too rushed to the studio.  It lacks (for the most part) the heart of effort that their previous works deliver.  Tormato feels like an album for the sake of producing one.  Since Anderson and Wakeman had left after this, was there damaging strife in the band during its production thus poisoning what it might have been?  And I won’t even discuss what was left off (“Some Are Born”).

I understand there is that change with the times bit.  But this period was still vintage YES, and they might have been able to turn Tormato into something that is commanding to listen to.  And so I ask, What went wrong with this one album?

Of course, this question will be ridiculed by strong YES fans, especially those that determine that the band could do no wrong.  However, I’ve a feeling that we could tug some lively debate out of YES fans concerning Tormato, the band’s definite pivotal album.  The album that followed close on the heels of Going For The One, and the album that  steered them toward Drama (albeit without Jon Anderson, and Rick Wakeman).  Drama is loved by some, but not by I although I won’t go into that now.

Is Tormato great YES or did it falter?

By MARowe

7 thoughts on “What Went Wrong With: Tormato – YES”
  1. One of my memories of this album was that seeing it in the “cutout” bin with all the other “duds” (or properly, albums that didn’t sell to their expected potential so there was excess supply). I agree with your assessment that the whole album feels like it was manufactured product made to fulfil a contractual obligation not something that came about organically or naturally. I don’t know anything regarding the overall situation between the band members or record company surrounding the making of this album so the perception that this album was “generic product” may be the result of what we know happened afterward.
    This album also had the burden of be compared to what came before it – The Yes Album, Fragile, Close To The Edge, Tales From Topographic Oceans, and Relayer – all great albums which are very tough to compete with. I think the well had run dry and the band’s members had lost their cohesiveness (and after a decade run that’s understandable, perhaps even the norm if you look at any band’s output). IMO, after the Relayer album the next (and last) great “Yes” album was Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe. (Yes the two Trevor Rabin albums were good but they weren’t Yes albums in the classic sense).
    Still, of all the remaining Yes albums not specifically mentioned above, Tormato had some great moments and to me is better than any of the rest of those Yes albums . The problem with it was that there are 3 or 4 songs that felt uninspired or like filler and that tainted the entire album. The band had had it’s run. The album was a reflection of the times and the band itself…. time to move on and do something different. And that feeling applied to all but the most diehard Yes fans as well.
    Tormato isn’t ever going to be considered one of the great Yes albums but I like it much more than Going For The One and Drama. Besides the “immaculate 5” albums (and ABWH) mentioned above the next Yes album that I regularly listen to is Tormato. “Arriving UFO” and “Circus Of Heaven” are songs I can listen to over and over. It was too bad they didn’t spend a little more time and love on some of the other songs on the album because it could have been much more. Instead it is a document of a band filling out their contract so they can go their separate ways. The talent and musicianship still shine through in some moments. I won’t say it’s a great album but it is better than most give it credit.

  2. Yes is one of my favorite groups and I listen to everything they’ve released. But I think Tormato had an “unfinished” feel to it. And, unlike any previous Yes album, it had some tracks that were outright filler, and lyrics that are over-the-top even for Yes. I enjoy pulling it out for an occasional listen, but it’s at the bottom of my list for ’70s Yes. Coming right after the great Relayer and Going For The One, Yes certainly faltered here.

  3. Tormato. My fourth favorite album of theirs (and I have heard all of them). I never remember having an issue with it. There are more tracks I like on this album than any others except Fragile, The Yes Album, and 90125. It received LOTS of airplay by our local classic rock stations. I know Yes fans and critics didn’t like it, and they didn’t play much from it on their tours, but I liked almost every song on it. I am guessing that critics and fans judged the album based on their past works, which I don’t do. A group can change their sound on every album and I won’t care, as long as I like the songs on it. Van Halen could sound like the Cars on their next album, and if it sounded like the first three Cars albums, than that would, for me, be a better Van Halen album than most of theirs. I guess my point is, I don’t make comparisons. I judge each track on itself, and Tormato had a lot of tracks I liked, and they were not compared to any other Yes track. I wish every album they did since 90125 was as strong as Tormato.

  4. I guess, to answer your question, Yes did not falter because of this album. It is not up to other people to decide what a band should sound like on their album. That is their decision. So, if they faltered, it was because they did not live up to their own expectations. But, overall, I think the critics and some fans faltered, so judging this album against their others. If this album had been a first release for them, the response would not have been the same. And I believe many of your know this to be true. Comparisons are not good.

  5. Tormato was an excellent album. Damn shame that the average Yes fan detested it. There were some post-punk/New Wave sounds coming in on the album as that was coming into play when the album was made. “Future Times”/”Rejoice”, “Don’t Kill the Whale”, “Madrigal” and “Release Release” was a great batch of songs and that was Side 1 of the original record (one of the best album sides in the vinyl era IMHO). “Arriving UFO” was another great tune as was the closer “On the Silent Wings of Freedom” (I also like “Circus of Heaven” and “Onward” but many scoff at those songs). Problem was everyone wanted a sequel to Going For the One and the band to do more ten minute songs (they tried shorter more precise on Tormato and it worked though many disagreed). Although Tormato was relegated to bargain bin Hell for years, it still managed Top 10 in US sales (I checked Allmusic as I hate s**tipedia and was banned from there, who needs them) and also was first Yes album to go Platinum (sold a million copies). Drama was excellent as well but that tanked even worse than Tormato in the States.

  6. I think the problem with that album was that Anderson was writing soft songs, while Chris/Steve/Alan wanted to write hard songs. Also, I think Steve and Rick tended to out play/out note each other on it. I personally like the album, but was not surprised it was out of print for so many years, and only came out on CD around 1991 or so (right before the entire catalog was re-mastered for the first time by Atlantic, including Tormato which was only out on un-remastered CD for that short time.)

  7. I’ve always enjoyed Tormato. Not a great Yes album, but I like it better than some others. I thought the songs they played on the tour were great, particularly, OTSWoF. In retrospect, it did seem like an album where the band was getting tired and needed a change.


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