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April 28, 2018 11:27 PM   Subscribe

The ninth album by Yes, 1978's Tormato, was the first album produced collectively by the band. It's one of the rare albums to include a drum solo in one of its songs. It was also the last Yes album to include Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman for many years. Side A: Future Times/Rejoice; Don't Kill The Whale [video]; Madrigal [video]; Release, Release posted by hippybear (35 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Personally, I feel like this is one of Yes' most joyous feeling albums up to this point. It's widely derided but I've owned a vinyl of this for decades and I feel like it is one of their best offerings. I know I'm in the minority with that opinion, but maybe it's worth another listen.
posted by hippybear at 12:22 AM on April 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

there were maybe two weeks in the fall of 1978 when Tormato was my absolute favorite album ever. In particular, I was on board with Future Times Rejoice, Madrigal, Release Release and Silent Wings of Freedom. It was the year after high school. There was no shortage of good weed to be had. Also alcohol. I'm still looking for some of those brain cells.
posted by philip-random at 12:39 AM on April 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

Their next album, Drama, is better.

In fact, Drama is my favorite Yes album.

Drag me.
posted by SansPoint at 1:05 AM on April 29, 2018 [5 favorites]

Drama led to Art Of Noise led to Frankie led to 9i0215.

It's an interesting era of music.
posted by hippybear at 1:08 AM on April 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

Hippybear is of course our resident expert in the genre of Seventies Prog Rock Bands with Countertenor Vocalists (I’m looking forward to the Supertramp FPP ; )
posted by DoctorFedora at 1:44 AM on April 29, 2018

The band's lineup has changed so constantly and wildly that there's an entire Wikipedia article just about the lineup.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:33 AM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

...didn't you already post this?

The classic lineup Yes album I never listened to. I am reluctant. It cannot hold up as well as it would've when I was on prog binges in my mid teens.

I did go down an interesting rabbit hole about the Birotron, which could maybe have another FPP; there was one previously, but it -was- a decade ago...
posted by solarion at 4:06 AM on April 29, 2018

I remember I had this on vinyl and it perplexed me.
posted by thelonius at 4:14 AM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

I purchased this as a cut-out. Back in the day, most of my purchases were cut-outs. To this day, I can't recall listening to this record but one time, and consider it among my few shopping bargain failures. Forty years on, I may have to revisit that notion.
posted by MorgansAmoebas at 4:37 AM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Circus of Heaven has always been one of my favorite Yes songs and I don't care who knows. It's a great song.
posted by damnitkage at 7:50 AM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Huh! This is unexpected!
I genuinely do like this album, I'd have a hard time arguing that it should be placed among their greatest (at times I am inclined to put Magnification there though) - but yeah it has remained one of my favorites.
posted by Golem XIV at 9:42 AM on April 29, 2018

ok, I am a long time Yes fan, decades. I recall listening to Tormato back in like the 80s, and being just horrified. I thought it sucked and have never returned to it. I guess I need to...

I love all the early stuff, even Relayer (well, the Gates of Delirium anyway) and I'm very fond of Drama. but Tormato...that album cover :(
posted by supermedusa at 12:11 PM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

never cared for 90215 but Leave It is a fantastic song that I listen to regularly. they really hit the classic Yes sound and feel perfectly in that song.
posted by supermedusa at 12:14 PM on April 29, 2018

If you can love this album, you are a true Yes fan and will be with them in paradise, when the planet is disassembled and the fragile fragments are towed to the Topographic Oceans by the arriving UFOs (led by Olias of Shunhillow).
posted by edheil at 1:46 PM on April 29, 2018 [8 favorites]

I am very much in the “English prog was good from 1970-1974” camp, and this album highlights one reason other than simple genre-fatigue and stagnation: Polymoog. It was a shiny new toy every keyboardist on the vanguard needed to show off like a new satin cape, but no one had quite figured out how to utilize it effectively in a band setting. By ‘79/‘80, once rock producers all agreed that polysynths were really good for making the guitars sound huge, and little else, it became central to that turn-of-the-eighties rock sound, but before then, with the exception of stuff where synth was the central instrument, it just ruined records. This is one of them.

In the context of a large multi-instrumental rock band, the classic early-‘70s monosynth+Mellotron+organ+clavinet+piano keyboard setup — all juggled by a single person, without overdubbing — just sits a lot better in the mix than them newfangled polyphonic synthesizers. In order for a polysynth to both sound its best and fit in the mix, you can’t really have a hundred other things going on. To sound good, pick one: 1) all synth (your Jean-Michel Jarres, your Kraftwerks, your Vangeles) ; 2) heavily synth-based with very little else (Rush, Duran Duran, etc.), or C) synth that enhances and thickens, rather than competes with and drowns out, the sound of other instruments (Journey, etc.). What it can’t be is a load of thin, stringy, incohesively reverb-drenched bullshit that’s just thrown haphazardly over an otherwise okay progressive rock album.

I mean, “Release, Release” is so frustrating! It’s like, “Ahhhh... There’s that classic Yes sound I’ve been looking for!” ...and then that Polymoog comes in and shits all over it. Argh.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:48 PM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

led by Olias of Shunhillow

I love you
posted by supermedusa at 1:50 PM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

I don't know if it's come up so far, but I heard band members on the Radio One Saturday afternoon show when it came out, and they said that originally the album was to be called Tor, after Yes Tor on Dartmoor, and Hipgnosis did the cover photo and it was printed up and sitting on an easel or something and someone threw a tomato at it and that was that. It was literally forty years ago, I might have forgotten some of the details.

As the thread was here, I listened to a few tracks when I went out to the supermarket earlier. I bought it a little after release - I kind of had to wait for albums to go cutout before I could afford them - but it was at the exact time in my adolescence that I found music as intoxicating as ... well ... intoxicants. Actually, I think drugs and alcohol are distinctly second best compared to that. I don't know that there's much as ludicrously joyous as that sound they make on Future Times/Rejoice. It took me a long time and a few fraught situations to realise that guitarists don't just get to noodle over everything. In fact Steve Howe is the only person whoever got away with it.

(That Saturday afternoon show was a godsend - it was the first place I heard Nick Drake, with Joe Boyd promoting the Fruit Tree box set in about 1985, and the first place I heard Peter Blegvad, promoting Knights Like This, and countless other revelations. In those days we pieced together our own notions of musical history from snippets we could grab on the radio, the tv, magazines... anywhere people might leave information lying around.)
posted by Grangousier at 2:18 PM on April 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

Oh, and...
If we reason with destiny
Gonna lose our touch
Indeed so.
posted by Grangousier at 2:23 PM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

The bass lines on this album... I mean, okay so I made this post and then I slipped into obsession with this album and I've listened to it maybe 6 or 7 times since I posted this, like truly LISTENED not just playing in the background, and this album has some of Squire's most melodic lines I've ever heard. There are entire songs that are basically build around the bass line.

And yeah, the joy. I'm going to keep saying it. This is Yes' most joyous album. Every track is an uplift.
posted by hippybear at 2:24 PM on April 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

some recently revealed back story re: Tormato's notoriously murky sound ...

We were going through Yes' Tormato tapes. Producer/engineer Eddie Offord had started the album -he had done most of the Yes records and I know from working on his tracks that he used Dolby A a lot. These tapes don't say Dolby A, but Tormato is a famously bad-sounding record. They parted ways with him mid-course and somebody else finished the record. So I'm looking at the tapes and it doesn't say Dolby A anywhere on them - it's typical that they note that when encoded - but I said, "Hold on a second, let me put Dolby on this." And everything - except for some of the later overdubs - sounded amazing. I went, "Aha!" I think we realized what happened. They went to somebody else and the other person didn't see Dolby on the tapes.
posted by philip-random at 2:26 PM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

also worth noting, the tour that came from Tormato was one of the greatest I've ever encountered. They played a handful of Tormato tracks early in the set and otherwise, it was all classics, presented rather flawlessly from a revolving stage. Here's evidence of less than half of it from various sources.
posted by philip-random at 2:35 PM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yeah, my understanding is that the Tormato tour was the greatest and best Yes tour until the whole Union thing happened, which was itself both totally amazing and utterly disappointing (depending on what you expected from it).
posted by hippybear at 2:38 PM on April 29, 2018

these guys truly loved that revolving stage
posted by thelonius at 3:00 PM on April 29, 2018

I assume we've all seen the video feed from the Going For the One sessions, yes? Not riveting television - it's essentially unedited closed-circuit camera footage - but lots of fascinating details. Also: all these people were very stoned indeed. Except Rick Wakeman. Who was very, very drunk. The conversation about official Yes uniforms is a strange kind of comedy gold all of itself.

(I linked to part one, but the other parts are there somewhere.)
posted by Grangousier at 3:09 PM on April 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

My aunt loved Yes, and as a teenager in the early eighties, I wore out her vinyl Fragile and Relayer and I think Classic Yes was out by then. Then I found Tormato in a used bin and loved it. I knew that real fans of the band didn't like it, but it just made me happy. Mostly I love the cameo by Damion Anderson in Circus of Heaven. It's actually the only Yes album I still own as nobody will ever steal it from me.
posted by Thrakburzug at 3:32 PM on April 29, 2018

no, i've never seen that video footage - listening to yes jam out on 12 bar blues is really incongruous to say the least
posted by pyramid termite at 4:10 PM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

In the mid-80s, I inherited an old stereo from my stepmother's family. Between the youngsters moving out of the step-grandparents' house, and these same step-grandparents moving from Chicago to Spokane, the stereo was superfluous to their needs but not to a teen-aged me. I didn't mind that this stereo--a Zenith Allegro--had a turntable and an 8-track player in the age of cassettes and these newfangled Compact Discs, because hey, I had a stereo!

I found a few 8-track tapes when setting up the stereo that had odd recordings on them. It's a reason why I can quote almost all of Side 2 of George Carlin's "Class Clown," with the crucial exception of the Seven Words segment as the tape cut off at that point. Two of these tapes were labeled "Yes, 9/24/78." Their concert at the International Amphitheatre was aired in its entirety by WKQX-FM, which at the time was one of four AOR stations in Chicago. When I bought my first boombox, it had RCA inputs, allowing me to copy over the 8-tracks to a 120-minute cassette tape which I kept for many years until I lost a functioning cassette player. Fortunately, I found a service last year (currently unavailable) that had the entire concert recorded, including the encore that I accidentally taped over on an unlabeled third 8-track.

The concert itself? I'd give it a B or B-, as there are still some songs from "Tormato" that I'm not a fan of. "Circus Of Heaven" is still one of them, and while the first part of "Future Times/Rejoice" is solid, the ending half isn't. On the other hand, "Madrigal" is just straight-up pretty--Rick Wakeman's Polymoog solo can't ruin it--and "On The Silent Wings Of Freedom" is my favorite from the live set. The live take on "Awaken" is chilling and powerful, and one of the real highlights of the show, whereas "Starship Trooper" gets ruined by the aforementioned Polymoog blasting its bright and harsh sounds all over the place.

BTW, wasn't this the live set where Wakeman had a keytar?
posted by stannate at 7:14 AM on April 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

Tormato was a perfectly cromulent Yes album. It looks like a moribund end-stage in retrospect, in contrast to the shake up and revitalization that Drama represented.
posted by whuppy at 7:30 AM on April 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

BTW, wasn't this the live set where Wakeman had a keytar?

posted by philip-random at 8:45 AM on April 30, 2018

Tormato was a perfectly cromulent Yes album. It looks like a moribund end-stage in retrospect, in contrast to the shake up and revitalization that Drama represented .

My take on Yes is that as long as they were genuinely progressing, nobody could touch them. This got them as far as Relayer. After which, something happened. Maybe it was rock and roll excess. Maybe it was just history catching up with them. Whatever it was, they dumped masterful keyboardist Patrick Moraz and invited Rick Wakeman to return. They also made their first album without resident engineer/co-producer Eddie Offord. The result (Going for the One) wasn't bad and in fact sold very well, but it just didn't have the same mad trajectory as what had come before.

Tormato was the same thing as Going for the One, only more so. It was the sound of a once great band that had never doubted its ability to boldly go where no band had gone before having doubts. Because things were changing. Punk and New Wave and Disco even were all redefining the zeitgeist profoundly. And Yes were not exactly deaf to all of this.

What happened after Tormato was A. a great tour that only got greater as they made more room in the set list for older stuff (Yes having quite the back catalog by 1978-79), and B. an attempt to reinvigorate things in the studio by hooking up with Queen's producer Roy Thomas Baker. This didn't work out. What actually happened in Paris is unclear but the end result was Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman walking away, and the remaining members eventually hooking up with The Buggles and recording Drama with Mr. Baker gone and Eddie Offord back in the producer's chair.

And yeah, Drama is solid, way better sounding to my ears than Tormato or Going For The One. But it's not a step back to the old sounds, it's an edging confidently into the now of 1980, strong and relevant, except well, it's not really Yes anymore ... not without Jon Anderson.

And so on ...
posted by philip-random at 9:11 AM on April 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

philip-random: Part of why I love Drama is that merging of the classic Yes sound with the urgency of New Wave, via The Buggles. "Machine Messiah" and "Tempus Fugit" are incredible works, though for my money, the Buggles version of "Into The Lens" ("I Am a Camera") is the superior version.
posted by SansPoint at 1:25 PM on April 30, 2018

somewhere I've got an edit of I Am A Camera and Into the Lens, which works remakably well. From the ethereal to the downright heavy.

I certainly prefer the Buggles Yes to the 90215 version.
posted by philip-random at 3:38 PM on April 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

It's best to embrace all incarnations of Yes. Any one of them is a better band than just about any other band. There are variances, but each of them is the best version of Yes that could exist at that moment.
posted by hippybear at 8:01 PM on April 30, 2018

A bit late, but Sys Rq hit upon one of the problems I have with Tormato: I don't think of the production sound as murky as much as it's loud and tiring. The Polymoog doesn't blend well with the rest of the instruments--an issue you'd find with a lot of prog rock in the late 70s--so everyone else competes accordingly. The vocals on Tormato, and to be fair, also on Going For The One, is much more shrill and higher-pitched than the more melodic harmonies you'd find from Yes in the earlier half of the decade. Anderson and Squire honestly sound like they're shouting at each other* more than singing with each other. It honestly makes the songs from Tormato a slog to get through in spite of their relatively shorter length.

*The irony that it took Anderson's departure in 1979, and Trevor Horn's vocal shortcomings, to reinvigorate the vocal harmonies Yes was known for. Drama features much better harmonization from Squire and Howe than the late 70s albums did.
posted by stannate at 7:25 PM on May 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Speaking of Trevor Horn’s vocals, I found out the other day that Yes had Horn go back and remix “Fly From Here” and add new lead vocals, turning it, essentially, into the “Drama” sequel it should have been. (Nothing against the guy they brought in to do a Jon Anderson impersonation on “Fly From Here”, though. He did a good job.)
posted by SansPoint at 8:44 AM on May 3, 2018

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