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Yes - Tormato CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.98 | 1516 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars On "Going For The One" YES had come full circle regarding their musical differences and successfully reunited the lineup of Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Alan White, Chris Squire and Rick Wakeman. It was a transitional album that honed down the bombastic complexities of albums like "Relayer" and "Tales From Topographic Oceans" and simplified the song structures with the intent to fit into a changing musical world where simplified music had dethroned the earlier 70s perceived excesses. YES successfully crafted an album that stayed true to their sound while taking the first step into their progressive pop style without totally severing the progressive umbilical chord from the past by adding the beautiful "Awaken" to finish off the album and perhaps the era of fully progressive rock.

Their 9th studio album TORMATO finally jumps ship altogether from the full-fledged progressive rock of the earlier years and delivers one of their very first progressive pop albums that would usher in a couple decades of similarly inspired music to follow. The first thing about this album that confuses the first time listener is the question of just where in the world did they get the album title? Is a TORMATO a tornado that hit a vegetable market that happened to have all tomatoes that day? A craggy outcrop of rock on the summit of a hill in the town of Mato on the island of Sarawak in Malaysia? Or is it a radioactive tomato that morphed into a Godzilla type creature that is ready to devastate Baltimore? Guess again. The name was actually derived from Steve Howe's idea of naming the album "Tor" after the highest point in Dartmoor, England. The artist Hipgnosis who designed the "Going For The One" album also did this one and after Wakeman objected to the design he threw a tomato at it which ended up as the album cover of choice, so TORMATO is simply a combination of the "Tor" idea and the tomato being thrown. Not my favorite album title or cover either, but there it is.

Musically TORMATO is a strange beast which features virtuosic classical trained progressive rockers unleashing their full musical prowess into short radio friendly track lengths. It's actually kind of interesting if you can embrace the irony of it all. As horrible as this album is purported to be, i personally don't find it that way at all. No doubt i do find this to be the weakest album of their 70s output, but a weak album by one of the greatest prog bands in history is still a worthy album to experience and much better than some of the utter crap like "Union". Right from the get go "Future Times / Rejoice" embraces a musical glee with the vocals of Jon Anderson who seems to take lead on this album as the centerpiece which the musical "noodling" revolves around. While the melodies tend to be pleasant enough pop inspired songwriting, the virtuosic performances around them are a bit surreal to say the least. The lyrics of YES have always tended to be a little spacey and hippie dippy and they only become more so here whether it be about environmental concerns on "Don't Kill The Whale" or new age fantasies on "Arriving UFO."

Overall this is not a horrible album but after all i love good pop music as much as i love good prog. There are many examples where a band is successful in one style and is pathetic in the other. YES proves here that they have what it takes to create a very decent middle of the road album that peaks and troughs in both arenas of pop and prog. I assume the main objection to this album revolves around that it went in the pop direction at all, but for me that is not a problem as living in the real world of the day, YES also proved they had the foresight to see the writing on the wall and adapted to the new world without compromising the sounds and style they were known for. Ingenious if you ask me. I can honestly say i like every track on this album except for the "Circus Of Heaven" track which kinda makes me wanna hurl. While i wholeheartedly concede that this was indeed a major step down in quality and the beginning of a loathsome era for their original prog fans, i can only admire the tenacity of YES for steering their musical vehicle into arenas that kept them relevant at the time without totally watering down the music to unlistenability (that would eventually come). By keeping the band name alive and kicking was relevant for new fans discovering older progressive rock and wished to delve into their discography. Successfully maneuvering the business aspects of the musical world in the late 70s aside, i actually find this to be an enjoyable album for the most part and while not a desert isle pick it is by no means designated to the completists only file because i find the melodies on this one infectious.

In the end, this album was the breaking point for a band who was obviously placating a musical market to the best of their abilities and after this album and tour both Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman would jump ship leaving the band's future in question, but with hind-sight being 20/20 we know that the band would constantly reinvent itself in most unforeseen and unorthodox ways with some successes and unfortunately, ho hum, way too many that were not.

While i rarely find bonus tracks on the YES remasters to be essential this one actually has some total winners that for me are worth the price of admission alone. The track "Money" for example is so experimental and different from anything the band has done that you would hardly guess that it is a YES track at all.

3.5 but rounded up because TORMATO doesn't get enough love in these here parts ;P

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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