Review Summary: Reevaluated after 30 true summers passed.
Now here's an album that in my personal opinion is terribly underrated. I think with a band like Yes, since they made so many classic albums, each one is unfairly compared to their previous albums. The songs on "Tormato" are quite different than what might be considered their "classic" period. Gone are the extra long compositions, instead we get 8 concise tracks, with little to no filler. Here's a track by track review:
Future Times/Rejoice - Two songs in one, which flow together nicely. "Future Times" being more upbeat, almost majestic thanks to the always ostentatious Rick Wakeman. Chris Squire has such a unique tone on the whole of this album, utilising what I think is an Envelope Filter. Him and drummer Alan White have a nice rapport going on in this track while Steve Howe, much like Wakeman, is busing showing us how fast he can run up and down the neck of his guitar (his runs always brilliant to me). "Rejoice" doesn't really slow things down, but definitely closes things up with this track. A bit more straightfoward, but in Yes terms, that means "less complicated."
Don't Kill the Whale - The big single from this album, a very good rock n' roll song. Catchy as hell, very danceable (!) all with a very eco-friendly message. This is definitely of all the songs on this album, the one where Steve and Rick battle for solo space, and each one ripping it up.
Madrigal - Almost like an interlude, Rick's harpsichord is the centerpiece here, with some acoustic fills from Steve. Very classical sounding, effective in its shortness.
Release, Release - One of two standout tracks on this album. This is a blazing rocker, filled with great time changes, and even an Alan White drum solo (with somewhat misplaced crowd noise). Its structure is fairly straightfoward, but is very unrelenting in its power and tempo.
Arriving UFO - There is a short period where this album falters a bit, and this is the start of it. Not a bad song, per se, but overall it lacks in any real sort of structure, and meanders around a bit. Rick's keyboards and Steve's guitar somewhere in the middle section, get a bit "cheesy", but that's just my opinion. Not a bad track, but weaker against the others on this album.
Circus of Heaven - Now this, in my opinion, is a great misstep. A very child-like melody forms the basis of this song, and even Jon Anderson's young son makes an appearance at the end. A bit too winsome for my tastes.
Onward - Chris Squire's paean to his wife. This is probably the most straightforward love song Yes has ever written, complete with orchestral arrangement. The basis of the song is Squire's bass, again fed through some sort of filter, and Steve's muted arpeggios. This is a very effective track segueing into...
On the Silent Wings of Freedom - This is the other standout track on the album, beginning with Chris and Alan. Chris' bass has the envelope filter going front and center and Alan builds around his riff with some jazzy drumming. Steve and Rick slowly make their way around the song until Jon comes in and sets up the main melody. The rest of the song alternate through Jon's more contemplative verses to an upbeat chorus. I must mention that Squire's bass is absolutely FANTASTIC in this song, especially after the first chorus, into the second verse...stunning.
Overall, this is a great album. It has no doubt been overlooked considering all of the horrible press it has received by both critics and the band themselves. Now that 30 true summers have passed since its release, it's definitely time for reevaluation. While I would not consider starting here if you are new to Yes, its definitely a great, original sounding rock n' roll album from the 70's, back when rock n' roll really did mean something.