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Studio album by Yes
Released 22 September 1978
Recorded February – June 1978
Studio Advision and RAK Studios, London, England[1]
Genre Progressive rock[2]
Length 41:35
Label Atlantic
Producer Yes
Yes chronology
Going for the One
Singles from Tormato
  1. "Don't Kill the Whale"
    Released: September 1978

Tormato is the ninth studio album by the English progressive rock band Yes, released on 22 September 1978 by Atlantic Records. It is their last album recorded with singer Jon Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman prior to their departure in 1980. Production began in London in February 1978 following the Going for the One tour and was met with several difficulties regarding the band's direction, choice of producer, and its sound quality. The album features bassist Chris Squire using several bass pedal effects and Wakeman using a Birotron.

Tormato received a mixed critical reception upon release, but was a commercial success. It peaked at No. 8 in the UK and No. 10 in the US. "Don't Kill the Whale" was released as a single in the UK which reached No. 36. Tormato continued to sell in the US and is certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling over one million copies. Yes supported the album with the commercially successful 1978–79 tour with concerts performed in the round. Tormato was remastered for CD in 1994 and 2004; the latter contains several previously unreleased tracks from the album's recording sessions.


By late 1976, Yes had returned to their 1972–74 line-up of Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White, and Rick Wakeman. The five released Going for the One and completed a 1977 tour of North America and Europe supporting the album. The band took a short break prior to starting work on their next record.



Recording for Tormato began in February 1978 at Advision and RAK Studios in London. The band were initially split on where to record, with some members wishing to record outside of the UK.[3] Initial sessions were engineered and produced by Eddy Offord, who had worked and toured with the band in the early 1970s, but he left soon after.[4]


"Don't Kill the Whale" was initiated by Squire who played the chorus section on an acoustic guitar. Wakeman went on to adapt a sound he configured on his Polymoog, an instrument that he said could produce "weird sounds", that resembled a whale.[5]

"Onward" has orchestral arrangements by Andrew Pryce Jackman,[6] a former band member of the Syn with Squire.

"Release, Release" is a rock and roll track developed by Anderson and White. The song features automatic double tracking to achieve a bigger drum sound.[7] The song features a drum solo with inserted crowd noise. Wakeman believed the crowd was taken from an English football match.[7]

"Circus of Heaven" originated from an idea Anderson got from reading a book by Ray Bradbury ten years before recording the song. He told the story to his son Damion and he took an interest in it.[6] Damion is heard at the end of the track.

Sleeve design[edit]

As with Going for the One, the album's cover was designed by Hipgnosis but retains the band's logo designed by Roger Dean. Howe pitched the album's original title of Yes Tor, referring to the second-highest point on Dartmoor, an area of moorland in Devon, England.[8] Wakeman claimed to have thrown a tomato at the pictures taken for the album as he was disappointed with its design. The album's title and cover was changed accordingly.[9][10] Howe said it was someone at Hipgnosis who threw the tomato on purpose, something that he felt insulted about.[8] According to White, the band "couldn't decide on the cover. I think Po ... put a picture of a guy with divining sticks on the front. He took it home one night and decided it wasn't working. So he threw a tomato at it".[8] The band were not photographed on Yes Tor; their picture was in fact taken in Regents Park, wearing bomber jackets and sunglasses with each member facing a different direction.[8][11] Each jacket was labelled with the member's name on the front, but Squire had forgotten his and had to wear one labelled "Jim", belonging to tour manager Jim Halley. The word "Chris" was then drawn onto the final cover.[11]


Tormato was released on 22 September 1978,[12] reaching number 8 on the UK Albums Chart and number 10 on the US Billboard 200. "Don't Kill the Whale" was released as a single in September 1978 and peaked at number 36 in the UK singles chart.[13] It became the band's first album to be certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2/5 stars[14]
Pitchfork Media (3.8/10)[15]
Rolling Stone (unfavourable)[2]

The album received a mixed response upon its release;[16] the main subject of criticism for the album is the production quality, typified by a compressed and dull sound.[17] Wakeman has said that Yes never got the best out of some of the material on Tormato, while Howe stated that Yes were unsure of themselves musically at the time. It would be the final studio album to feature Anderson until 1983's 90125 and Wakeman until 1991's Union.


Organisation Level Date
RIAA – US Gold[18] 10 October 1978
Platinum[18] 8 November 1978
BPI – UK Silver[12] 13 September 1978


  • 1991 – Atlantic – CD
  • 1994 – Atlantic – CD (Remastered)
  • 2004 – Rhino – CD (Remastered with bonus tracks)

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Future Times/Rejoice" Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman, Alan White 6:46
2. "Don't Kill the Whale" Anderson, Squire 3:56
3. "Madrigal" Anderson, Wakeman 2:25
4. "Release, Release" Anderson, White, Squire 5:44
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Arriving UFO" Anderson, Howe, Wakeman 6:07
2. "Circus of Heaven" Anderson 4:31
3. "Onward" Squire 4:05
4. "On the Silent Wings of Freedom" Anderson, Squire 7:47


Credits adapted from the album's liner notes.[1]

  • Geoff Young – engineer
  • Nigel Luby – engineer
  • Peter Woolliscroft – additional engineering
  • Pete Schwier – additional engineering
  • Sean Davis – disk cutting at Strawberry Studios, London
  • Brian Lane – executive producer
  • Hipgnosis – sleeve design, photography
  • Brimson Graphics-Colin Elgie – photography
  • Roger Dean – Yes logo design
  • Mixing and additional recording at RAK Studios, London


  1. ^ "Abilene" was the B-side of "Don't Kill The Whale".
  2. ^ "Money" was released in 1991 on the Yesyears box set.
  3. ^ "Some Are Born" was re-worked by Anderson for his second solo album, Song of Seven.
  4. ^ "High" would be re-worked by Howe as "Sketches in the Sun", an instrumental track released on GTR.
  5. ^ "Days" was re-worked by Anderson for his second solo album, Song of Seven.
  6. ^ "Countryside" was re-worked by Howe as "Corkscrew" his solo album Turbulence.
  7. ^ "Everybody's Song" is an early version of what became "Does It Really Happen?" on Drama.
  1. ^ a b Tormato (Media notes). Atlantic Records. 1978. K 50518. 
  2. ^ a b Emerson, Ken (28 December 1978). "Yes: Tormato". Music Reviews. Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 20 February 2009. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  3. ^ Welch, p. 174.
  4. ^ Giles, Jeff (20 September 2013). "35 Years Ago: Yes' 'Tormato' Album Released". Retrieved 21 April 2015. 
  5. ^ Perlah, Jeff (8 March 2017). "Rick Wakeman's Piano Journey Into Yes, Bowie". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  6. ^ a b Morse, p. 65.
  7. ^ a b Morse, p. 64.
  8. ^ a b c d Welch, p. 175.
  9. ^ Wright, Jeb (May 2002). "Rick Wakeman of Yes". Classic Rock Revisited. Archived from the original on 6 January 2004. Retrieved 24 October 2009. 
  10. ^ Tiano, Mike (3 September 2008). "Conversation with Roger Dean (nfte #308)". Notes From the Edge. Retrieved 24 October 2009. 
  11. ^ a b Welch, p. 176.
  12. ^ a b c "Certified Awards". BPI. Select keyword "Tormato", By award : Gold, By Format : Album. Retrieved 20 April 2015. 
  13. ^ Welch, p. 177.
  14. ^ Allmusic review
  15. ^ Pitchfork review
  16. ^ Emerson, Ken (28 December 1978). "Yes: Tormato". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 24 October 2009. 
  17. ^ Chris Welch, Close to the Edge: The Story of Yes, pg. 174, Omnibus Press (2003), ISBN 0-7119-9509-5
  18. ^ a b "RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for Tormato". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 20 April 2015.