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Yes - Tormato CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.00 | 1620 ratings

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2 stars "No Clowns"??? well, how interesting, I hear no less than *five* of them on this record!

I apologize for this perhaps a bit disrespectful title for this review of a record by perhaps The #1 Musical Love of My Youth, but I well remember my utter disappointment at my first hearing of Tormato, especially after its fantastic predecessor, Going For The One, which is still among my Top Three of Yes Albums Of All Time (and I'm pretty sure it's there to stay forever).

The 22 years-period after its release hasn't manage to soften my opinion for all that much. It's not that it's "bad", it isn't. But the whole of it does come across as a final, somewhat forced, attempt from an uninspired, and even tired band. Apparently, the sheer joy of the reunion with Rick Wakeman, which was so very apparent on Going For The One had waned (for various reasons as I've read - Wakeman had become a Swiss Tax Exile by then, to name just one of those) - the usual fire and passion that makes up for the best of Yes' efforts is just blatantly absent on this one.

Looking at the credits, you could already notice the upcoming crack between Anderson and Wakeman on one side, and Squire, White and Howe on the other one, and it also shows in the performances - or should I say, the presence? - of either of these two rivaling Yes Squads on this album. The only one who really seems to have his heart present on this album, is Anderson. For the better, but sadly enough, for the worst parts of it as well.

Strangely enough, Anderson and Wakeman still manage to come up with the best part, the gorgeous ballad Madrigal, clocking in at a mere 2:23 minutes. This intimate acoustic little song is just lovely, with Wakeman on the harpsichord and Howe on Spanish Guitar, neither of them falling into any kind of an overdose-trap. Anderson's warm lead vocal, and not to forget Squire's great background vocals (what a fantastic sense of harmonies that guy always has!) deserve a mentioning for the positives of Tormato as well.

I also like Release, Release, which may sound strange, as it is in its essentials no more than a straight-forward rock song (no wonder with Squire/White being on the credentials list) - but it works out well, despite the silly fake live concert-audience sounds being mixed in somewhere halfway. Alan White (by far the most underrated Yes member of all times) does a great job on his drum kit here. At least the band sounds a bit fired up in this one, and Anderson does very well on the vocals. I especially like his jazzy modulation on the final "Power at first to the needs of each others days..."-part (whatever those lyrics may mean, but hey, that's a question one should never ask about any of Anderson's lyrics...).

But then. The BAD side. I will refrain myself from summing up every glitch, but there are a few that truly deserve a mentioning. Arriving UFO, with its completely uninspired 'disco'-bleep bleeps keyboard sounds from Wakeman. The Birotron? Please get rid of that horrible thing at the nearest pawn shop, Rick!

And thereafter - the absolutely dreadful Circus of Heaven. Too saccharine for comfort - don't even try to listen to this if you happen to have any form of caries, you will find yourself forced to run to dial your dentist immediately. Might I be as nasty to rename this Anderson-debacle of a 'song' as "Everything You Never Wanted To Hear From Jon Anderson And Then More"??? Fortunately, he decided to keep this kind of garbage reserved for his solo-albums over the decennia that followed this album, so I could happily manage to avoid it ever thereafter! "No Clowns". No kidding, I mean. Literally!

In earlier, happier, times in Yes' career, there used to be one Mr. Chris Squire, the ultimate Beast-on-the-Bass, to be able to balance the score on the Anderson Whimpy Airy Fairy- factor. Alas. Not on this one. His Onward is a decent ballad - intimate and friendly, and it works out well (especially the vocals, no surprise, as Anderson and Squire make a wonderful tandem for that matter), but makes no difference to the overall 'subdued' feeling about Squire's performance on this album.

I've seen many people hail Squire's On the Silent Wings of Freedom as being the 'saviour piece' on this album, but alas - nope. It indeed starts off very promising, but ends up getting stuck up in that same one-way-alley as most of the other material, with that awful "lalala"-chorus popping up at the conclusion of it. A failed attempt at an 'epic', no other words to describe it. Too bad.

As you can see, I only reviewed the official 1978-release here, not the re-releases with bonus-stuff. I have heard them, though, but as it wasn't at all capable of changing my opinion, I won't bother to comment on it. Of those, only B-side Abilene is worth a friendly mentioning.

Well, the verdict seems pretty clear to me here. Yes, Tormato surely has its moments, but NO, it doesn't at all stand up to the levels of what anyone might have expected after the marvellous Going For The One. As I myself consider a three stars-rating (meaning: GOOD!, just a reminder for all you folks who give out 3-, 4- and even 5-stars ratings like confetti) way too high for this one, a two stars-rating seems appropriate, but only because of the appearance of Madrigal and some other slight positives that I've managed to discover. If it weren't for those, the verdict would indeed have been "for completionists only", aka, one star.

In hindsight, 20/20-vision, the clear sign of the upcoming Downfall of one of the greatest progrock bands ever. But no misunderstandings, I still give it a turn-or-two, at times. It's still YES. Draw your own conclusions...

Antennas | 2/5 |


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