Review Summary: Flawed in direction and production, Tormato turned out to be Yes' first misstep.
Moving from albums with few, vast songs to a somewhat more streamlined approach, Going for the One
signalled that Yes was about to move away from their mid-70s’ classics at the end of the decade. For one more album, the classic Yes line-up managed to stick together. Tormato
, released in ’78, bore a Hipgnosis cover like its predecessor, and was the band’s final record for the decade. And even with the classic formation intact, it could not be saved from being the group’s worst up to that point.
For the first time since their second effort Time and a Word
, a Yes album featured no less than 8 proper tracks; the transition to pop is becoming very clear at this point with the generally reduced lengths. The only real epic is closer On the Silent Wings on Freedom
, not unsurprisingly the standout moment here. Clocking at a 'mere' 8 minutes, it’s similar in length to the three major moments on Fragile
, but features in no sense the intensity or changing nature of these. Nevertheless, it remains a great highlight on an otherwise dreary affair. Tormato
’s production is dull and flat, taking away the energy the band had definitely shown to possess in the past. Squire’s otherwise crunchy bass work, for example, remains absent until the aforementioned last track, where the listener is finally reminded of his actual presence.
There’s nothing on Tormato
that can be truly condemned (perhaps Don’t Kill the Whale
, with it’s horrible-sounding synthesizers and Anderson’s calls of ‘dig it’, comes closest), but the whole presents itself as a rather lifeless affair with a serious lack of good ideas. Some tracks, like Future Times/Rejoice
and Release, Release
aren’t off to a bad start, but simply can’t seem to create any momentum. Others feature portions of nonsense: Anderson’s decision to bring in his kid to do vocals on Circus on Heaven
only annoys, and simply doesn’t make any sense. Tormato
’s direction is its biggest flaw.
It is to say, this album isn’t nearly as bad as some of the post-90125
Yes works. While there are good, even characteristic ideas here, they are all too often muddled with bad ones. The potential was still there, but the band just couldn’t put it out into great music at this point. Tormato is Yes’ first failure.
Tormato’s Yes was:
- John Roy Anderson ~ Lead Vocals, Percussion, Guitar
- Stephen James Howe ~ Lead Guitar, Mandolin, Backing Vocals
- Christopher Russell Squire ~ Bass Guitar, Piano, Backing Vocals
- Richard Christopher Wakeman ~ Piano, Organ, Synthesizers
- Alan White ~ Drums, Percussion
TO BE CONTINUED...