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Yes - Tormato CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.98 | 1399 ratings

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1 stars If this had been the debut offering of a young, burgeoning group the consensus would have been that they had potential and just needed more experience and maturity. But this was the NINTH studio album from arguably one of the most creative and influential progressive bands in history and also one of the biggest acts in the music business at the time. For the loyal, devoted fans that bought every single one of their records and helped to sell out nearly every arena they performed in, this was a travesty. Could this really be Yes? It was like going to your favorite five-star restaurant and, instead of a delicious entrée, the waiter brought you a plate of nine different varieties of cheeses. Adding insult to injury, when the bill arrived you found that you were charged the same as your usual gourmet dinner!

The first thing you notice is that someone (Rick Wakeman, it turns out) has pelted the cover with a rotten tomato. If that wasn't enough of a tip off, the opening song "Future Times" with Chris Squire substituting his usual fat bass tone for an overprocessed guitar effect quickly indicates that something is amiss in Yes land. With a quasi-military march for a foundation the tune never escalates into attack mode at all, something you've come to expect from them. "Rejoice" is really just more of the same except they do achieve some interesting dynamics toward the end. "Don't Kill the Whale" is a mess. A miserable attempt at a hit single. (Is Jon Anderson actually singing "dig it, dig it?" What?) "Madrigal" is fair musically and Steve Howe turns in a nice acoustic guitar bit but it sounds like Jon is trying to see how many words he can fit into a line here and it gets way too busy. "Release, Release" is a straight-ahead rock and roll song with decent changes but the whole thing sounds frantically rushed. Then you get a drum sequence from Alan White that features fake crowd noise in the background! (What the.?) "Arriving UFO" is as useless as its title and here they try too hard to be sci-fi, employing funny-sounding gimmicks. There's even an explosion! (What was that? The Death Star?) Wakeman tries to save it but Howe seems to be at a loss as to what he should play. "Circus of Heaven" is just weird. (Yes playing bad reggae?) And, though Jon has given the world some indecipherable lyrics from time to time, these take the cake. Then, after a quiet section, the song just fizzles. Thank goodness for "Onward" because it's by far the best song on the album. It's a beautiful love ballad with a great melody, nice harmony vocals, atmospheric guitar work from Howe and excellent orchestration. Too bad it's so short-lived. "On the Silent Wings of Freedom" starts with Squire using another thin guitar effect in a longer-than-necessary solo before the band finally kicks in. I know it's hard to fathom but I think Jon is actually trying to sing higher than he needs to here (perilously near dog-whistle territory) and the tune seems to meander without purpose. (Where's that stoned former producer Eddie Offord when you need him?) Finally we hear some stirring keyboard fills toward the end but even Wakeman's valiant efforts can't save this one. Mercifully, after less than 42 minutes of music, it's over.

It's common knowledge that I am only one of legion that disparages this collection of tunes. If there was such a thing as a prog comic he could do ten minutes of shtick on this album alone. I can hear it now: "Know why they called it 'Tormato?' Because 'Love Beach' had already been taken!" (Cue groans from audience of proggers.) But seriously, I'm amazed at how some Yes fans tiptoe around this one like the family pet's "accident" in the middle of the living room. Especially when some of the band members have gone on record as saying the group had no direction and no focus when they were in the process of creating this disappointment. When you consider that the last studio recording we had heard before this one had been the awesome, inspiring "Awaken" from "Going For the One," this defied reason. No wonder first Rick and then Jon left the fold afterwards. You might think I'd award the dreaded one star rating to "Tormento" but I'll consider giving it two and here's why. I prefer to believe there was some strain of progressive rock virus going around in 1978 that affected not only Yes but fellow juggernauts like Genesis and ELP, causing them to release cheesy stinkers, as well. What a nasty bug it was.

Aw, heck. Who am I fooling? This is awful and I can't, in good conscience, give it any more than a single star. I realize that things were bad in Progland at the time they recorded this booger but there's just no excuse for it. This is when Yes hit rock bottom. Shame on you guys.

Chicapah | 1/5 |


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