Let me start this one out with a disclaimer (of sorts): I have no problem with Tormato. And not that I think it’s in the same class as earlier works such as Close To The Edge, Relayer, Fragile, Going For The One, or even Tales From Topographic Oceans. But I do recognize that it’s not extraordinary craftwork even of it has some excellent tracks like “Arriving UFO”, “Circus Of Heaven”, and “Don’t Kill The Whale”.
I’m saddened in a way that I don’t pull it out as often as I do those earlier sets. I listened to it on the eve of supposed destruction (12/21), and reaffirmed to myself that, yes, it deserves being heard. But still, in some way, I know that YES changed a little too much for me with this album.
Howe’s guitars are as inspired as ever in this album as ever (listen to the excellent “On The Silent Wings Of Freedom”. Squire’s bass, and White’s drumming are up to the task, and Wakeman’s keyboards still light it up. Jon Anderson’s vocal work is as good as the material allows him to be.
My concern is that the album was far too rushed to the studio. It lacks (for the most part) the heart of effort that their previous works deliver. Tormato feels like an album for the sake of producing one. Since Anderson and Wakeman had left after this, was there damaging strife in the band during its production thus poisoning what it might have been? And I won’t even discuss what was left off (“Some Are Born”).
I understand there is that change with the times bit. But this period was still vintage YES, and they might have been able to turn Tormato into something that is commanding to listen to. And so I ask, What went wrong with this one album?
Of course, this question will be ridiculed by strong YES fans, especially those that determine that the band could do no wrong. However, I’ve a feeling that we could tug some lively debate out of YES fans concerning Tormato, the band’s definite pivotal album. The album that followed close on the heels of Going For The One, and the album that steered them toward Drama (albeit without Jon Anderson, and Rick Wakeman). Drama is loved by some, but not by I although I won’t go into that now.
Is Tormato great YES or did it falter?