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Yes Don't Kill the Whale album cover
2.79 | 61 ratings | 6 reviews | 26% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, released in 1978

Songs / Tracks Listing

Side A:
1. Don't Kill the Whale (3:23)

Side B:
2. Abilene (3:56)
2. Release, Release (5:43)

Line-up / Musicians

- Jon Anderson / vocals
- Steve Howe / guitars
- Rick Wakeman / keyboards
- Chris Squire / bass, vocals
- Alan White / drums

Releases information

UK Atlantic K 11184
US Atlantic 3534
CAN Atlantic AT 3534 Promo copy (US tracks)
JPN P-334A with picture sleeve

Thanks to Eetu Pellonpää for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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YES Don't Kill the Whale ratings distribution

(61 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(26%)
Good, but non-essential (26%)
Collectors/fans only (16%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

YES Don't Kill the Whale reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Guillermo
2 stars Taken from their very underrated "Tormato" album, "Don`t Kill the Whale" is a song with "ecological lyrics", composed by Jon Anderson and Chris Squire. It has good arrangements. Rick Wakeman was using then a keyboard called Birotron, which I read in the web that it was an improved version of the mellotron, which I think that it wasn`t used by many keyboard players apart from Wakeman. It is more a Rock song than a Prog Rock song, and it is one of the best from the "Tormato" album. Squire plays piano in this song.

"Abilene" is a song composed by Steve Howe. It is also a good song on which Howe plays acoustic guitars, a mandolin (or a vachalia?) and an electric sitar. Again, this is a more Rock song than a Prog Rock song, but it`s good anyway. This song was previously released in the "Yesyears" Box Set, and I think that it is now available in the Rhino Records Remastered CD which was released 2 or 3 years ago.

IMO, both songs show that YES was in a "crisis" because they couldn`t define the style of their songs in the late seventies. Maybe that was the main problem with the "Tormato" album, recorded and released in 1978, in a year in which Prog Rock music was losing popularity, and bands like YES, ELP, PFM, Genesis and others didn`t know clearly what to do with their music: to please their old Prog Rock fans, or to listen to Record Labels Executives`"kind suggestions" to change their style to have songs played in the Radio. Anyway, this single wasn`t a hit, and the "crisis" came to the end when Anderson and Wakeman left YES in late 1979 / early 1980 after some failed recording sessions in Paris for a new album, with Roy Thomas Baker as producer.

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The main aspect of reviewing singles is to focus on the single at hand. Often the flip side or additional tracks offer little to prop up the single release itself. ' Don't Kill The Whale' is a great green' environment chant served up by the Yes stalwarts. Very clever arrangements, good single material IMO and equally good chorus. Steve Howe stands out with some excellent intricate guitar work. The missive is strong and the song from Tormato is also one of the albums best tunes.' Abalene' for the completionist is not bad either.
Review by Tarcisio Moura
2 stars I could never understand why so many Yes fans don´t like this song. Don´t Kill The Whale to me stands as one of the last truly classic Yes gems. The lyrics may be a little on the simple and naive side but really, at the time, it was something new. And the melody is great. Fantastic arrangement too: Steve Howe´s guitar solo is very fluid and melodic. Wakeman´s keyboards are awesome, specially the final synth solo that reminds the sound of a whale, wonderful. He used the Birotron, a new instrument that was an improved version of the mellotron. Very few were produced in fact since synthesizers were taking over. The industry thought the mellotron era was gone (little did they know... but in the 80´s they were treated as a thing of the past, to be avoided at all costs).

The flip side, Release Release, was a good album track, but nothing special. I used to think it was a bit too heavy for Yes, but since my sister loves it, I guess it is a matter of taste, really. I wish I had the uk version, since at least it had an unreleased song as the b side instead.

Again, if you have the Tormato album, this is only for completionists or collectors.

Review by baz91
2 stars Yes get their funk on...

Picture the scene, England, UK 1978. At this point, Yes started writing silly songs like Arriving UFO and Circus of Heaven. In order to get people to buy their new album, the band needed to write a catchy hit. Thus Don't Kill The Whale was born.

I can honestly say, Yes have never sounded funkier than on this song. In the first ten seconds of the song, Chris Squire delivers an orgasmically smooth bass riff, and Steve Howe gives a brilliant guitar solo to match. At this point in the song, the casual listener has been hooked. There are four excellent verses with fun yet ecological lyrics about whales. I particularly like the rhyming in the first verse: 'You're first, I'm last, your thirst I'm asked to justify.' Afterwards there's a great instrumental, with a solo from Messrs. Howe and Wakeman. And then it all starts to go downhill. The casual listener will begin to switch off as Jon Anderson lets out an incomprehensible whale... sorry, I mean wail. The song doesn't feel like it has a proper ending, and I'm always let down by the lack of another verse after the instrumental. Still, for Squire's funky bass and Jon's funny lyrics, I'm prepared to award this song three out of five stars.

As ProgArchives explains above, this single had one of two B-sides, depending on which side of the Atlantic you were. One of them is much better than the other.

Abilene is a depressingly lacklustre song from Howe. Everything about the song is poorly written and uninteresting. For example, one of the lyrics is 'You've got a face,' Why thanks for reminding me Jon! Perhaps the weirdest thing about this song is the sample of a horse at the beginning. Are we meant to think that this song is written about a horse? Relistening to this song for the review has been the most plays it'll ever get, and I highly doubt that I'll ever give this track a spin again.

Release, Release is definitely where it's at! This is another of the silly songs from 'Tormato', but I'll take this over Abilene any day. Although this song is very silly indeed, it has a brilliant rocky rhythm throughout that keeps me hooked and singing along. Perhaps the worst thing about the song is the applause during White's drum solo. What kind of an egocentric band would add the sound of applause to their own record? Despite a few flaws, this is a really fun song indeed, and one of the gems from 'Tormato'.

This is definitely not a single worth investing in, but there's some fun moments indeed, especially if you choose the US version. Of course, all the songs on here appear on the Rhino remaster of 'Tormato', and the single artwork is included in the booklet, so there's no real reason to go searching for this single, unless you're a real collector.

Review by patrickq
3 stars The titles on both sides of the original 7-inch vinyl are easily available on the most recently released version of the Tormato CD, and both have been available on CD since the early 1990s. Before that, this single was sought after by Yes fans for the non- album b-side, "Abeline," which must have gone out of print soon after the single was released in 1978.

But an underappreciated aspect of the "Don't Kill the Whale" single is that the a-side (at least the version I have) is a different mix of "Don't Kill the Whale." This mix is shorter (about 3:20 compared to the Tormato version of 3:57 or so), and (a) the bass is louder and more distinct, and (b) the synthesizer and guitar parts are mixed in a less balanced way - - which is good. In other words, during the keyboard solo, the guitar is pushed further back in the single mix than on Tormato, and for most of the rest of the song, the keys are treated as a backing instrument, rather than fighting for space with the guitar parts, as they seem to on the album. On the single, the vocal part that begins around 2:40 seems to use a slightly different take. The single also fades before the coda. There are other, more subtle differences between the two versions in what I believe would be referred to as compression and equalization, although I'm comparing the single to one of several remasters of the album.

And then there's "Abeline," which should have, in my opinion, been featured on The Steve Howe Album the next year. A nice song, and a better tune than about half of the songs that made it onto Tormato, "Abeline" nonetheless doesn't seem in retrospect to have been a good fit with the sound of that album. The same can be said for "Money" and several other songs recorded at the same time. As much as I like "Abeline," and as much as I feel that there was insufficient compositional input from Howe on Tormato, I would've chosen "Money" as the b-side of "Don't Kill the Whale" simply because I'm guessing that it might have gotten a bit of radio play.

Is this single essential? No, especially since "Abeline" is so readily accessible in CD and via digital download. But given the relatively high quality of Yes's other output, I still wouldn't rate this long out-of-print single "essential" if it was the only way to get "Abeline" and the single mix of "Don't Kill the Whale." So, as a good, but not essential single, it gets three stars in my book.

Latest members reviews

2 stars I believe Yes's TORMATO to be a 1/2 and 1/2 album with some great tunes as is showcased here with "Don't Kill the Whale" and "Release, Release", but mixed with some real duds like "Arriving UFO", and "Circus of Heaven". Both album cuts are fine (I have always loved "Don't Kill the Whale") here ... (read more)

Report this review (#296322) | Posted by mohaveman | Thursday, August 26, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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