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Tormato (Yes album - cover art).jpg
Studio album by
Released22 September 1978
RecordedFebruary–June 1978
StudioAdvision Studios
(Fitzrovia, London)
RAK Studios
(Regent's Park, London)[1]
GenreProgressive rock[2]
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 English progressive rock band Yes. It was released on 22 September 1978 on Atlantic Records, and is their last album with singer Jon Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman before their departure from the group in 1980 and the last album to feature the lineup of Anderson, Wakeman, Chris Squire, Steve Howe and Alan White until 1996's Keys to Ascension.

After touring in support of their previous album, Going for the One (1977), the band entered rehearsals in London to record a follow-up album. Several factors hindered its potential including group disagreements over its overall direction, the decision not to use an external producer, and its uneven quality.

The album received a mixed response from critics yet it became a commercial success. It reached No. 8 in the UK and No. 10 in the US, where it became the band's fastest selling album and reached platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America within two months for selling one million copies. "Don't Kill the Whale" was released as a single that reached No. 36 in the UK. The band's 1978–1979 tour was their first with concerts performed in the round on a central revolving stage. Tormato was remastered in 2004 containing previously unreleased tracks from the album's recording sessions.


In December 1977, the Yes line-up of Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White and Rick Wakeman, wrapped their 1977 tour of North America and Europe in support of their eighth album, Going for the One (1977).[3] The album marked a return to commercial success after it went to number one in the UK for two weeks and spawned a UK top-10 single in "Wonderous Stories". The 84-date tour was considerably taxing on the group, and they took a short break at its conclusion.

Yes reconvened at Sound Associates in Bayswater, London in mid-February 1978 to write and rehearse material for a new studio album.[4] The majority of the songs on Tormato were written during soundchecks and rehearsals on the 1977 tour, as the group decided to develop fresh ideas rather than using older material.[5] The original plan was for Yes to release Tormato in two parts, with the first put out in July 1978 and the second by Christmas time. The second release was to be completed in Barbados, but this never happened and a single album was released instead.[6] The album's original working title was Eleventh Illusion, a reference to the band's desire to base their live stage sets around illusions.[6]



RAK Studios

Tormato was recorded from February to June 1978, and is the band's first recorded in two different London studios, Advision Studios in Fitzrovia and RAK Studios in Regent's Park. Initially they were split where the recording should take place; Howe and Squire wished to stay in London and suggested somewhere "warm and comfortable and easy", while others preferred to return to Switzerland where they had recorded Going for the One.[7][8] The early studio sessions saw the return of Eddie Offord working with the band as their engineer and producer since Relayer (1974), but his involvement came to an end soon after.[9] Left without a producer, the band decided to produce and mix the album themselves and hired Geoff Young and Nigel Luby, who had assisted with the production of Going for the One, as the engineers.[1][10] This way of working caused internal issues as Wakeman recalled: "No one was afraid to say, 'Well, Jon, I think you should sing this part.' Or 'Steve, that's a bad guitar part.' Tempers got frayed."[11] Howe agreed with the view, and believed such tensions affected the album's sound quality and tone as a result.[12] By the end of the recording sessions, Yes had recorded enough material to fit on one and a half albums.[4] Tormato was released with eight tracks, the highest number on a Yes studio album since Fragile (1971).[13]

The album features the band playing new instruments that were not used on previous Yes albums. By the time of recording, Wakeman had changed his keyboard rig to incorporate the Polymoog, a polyphonic analog synthesiser which he said was used mainly for "soloing and filling",[11] and the Birotron, a tape relay keyboard which he had co-funded during its development and manufacturing four years earlier. Wakeman reduced the number of keyboards he typically used so the tracks could relate to each other, thus creating an album that "flowed a bit more".[11] In one incident, the band laid a prank on Wakeman while he was on a break by replacing the Birotron cartridges with a tape of Seals and Crofts. Howe said: "When he pressed the keys he went, 'What the hell is this?'" and "got quite cross".[14] Looking back on the album a year after its release, Wakeman admitted he got it "60 percent right and 40 percent wrong", and wished he played things differently.[11] One of Howe's criticisms of Tormato was that the Polymoog and Birotron did not compliment his guitar sound and noted they often "cancel each other out".[12] Squire felt as if Wakeman and Howe tried to play more notes than the other in a single bar, which was caused after Anderson would put down basic chords on an acoustic guitar and then take it out of the mix, leaving gaps in the music.[15] Howe picked out "Madrigal", "Release, Release", and "On the Silent Wings of Freedom" as the tracks he liked best.[8]

In 2013, engineer and producer Brian Kehew, who has worked on the remastering of other Yes albums, explained that that the album sounds "thin, flat and terrible". He said that Offord usually incorporated Dolby A, a type of Dolby noise-reduction system, in his production work. However, upon examination of the original tapes he could not locate any sign that Dolby A was used. But when he applied Dolby A to the tapes, "[...] everything – except from the overdubs – sounded amazing". Kehew then realised that the engineers who replaced Offord during the album's production may not have known that the Dolby reduction had not been used.[16]


Anderson wrote the music and lyrics to "Future Times/Rejoice" and said his words are more explicit in meaning than his usual style.[17] It features Squire playing bass with a Mu-Tron pedal effect.[15]

"Don't Kill the Whale" originated from a bass line and a passage on an acoustic guitar that Squire had devised which he presented to Anderson, who proceeded to write lyrical ideas off of it using a poem that he had written on the subject as a basis.[18] The acoustic line was worked into the song's chorus.[19] The keyboard solo involved Wakeman adapting a sound that he had configured on his Polymoog which produced "weird sounds" that resembled a whale.[20]

"Madrigal" features Wakeman playing a Thomas Goff harpsichord. Anderson had suggested to Wakeman that they write a madrigal, a form of English evening song.[21]

"Release, Release" was developed by Anderson and White, and features automatic double tracking applied onto White's drum tracks to achieve a bigger sound.[22] Its original title was "The Anti-Campaign", referring to the political and social changes at the time before it was changed in favour of the lyric "Release, release" that is sung multiple times at the end.[23] The instrumental section includes a crowd cheering with the guitar and drum solo, which Wakeman reasoned was added because it "sounded a bit dry" on its own. He claimed the crowd was taken from an English football match.[11][22] Atlantic Records president Ahmet Ertegun visited Yes in the studio and heard "Release, Release", which he liked and suggested the whole album sound like it.[15] The song was difficult for Anderson to sing on stage as the many high notes in the song strained his voice, and it was dropped early into the tour.[23]

"Arriving UFO" is based on a tune that Anderson had developed, inspired to write a science-fiction song having seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) twice.[24] Wakeman wrote the instrumental section.[6]

"Circus of Heaven" tells the story of a travelling fantasy circus and its visit to a Midwestern town, featuring unicorns, centaurs, elves, and fairies.[25] Its direction came from Anderson's pursuit of writing songs aimed at children,[26] and gained inspiration from a book by Ray Bradbury ten years before which he subsequently told to his son Damion, who speaks at the end of the song.[27] Squire thought the track was an interesting one musically as it features him playing a reggae-style bass riff.[15]

"Onward" is solely credited to Squire, who had produced a demo version of the song on vocals and piano and presented it to the band.[28] It features orchestral arrangements by his friend Andrew Pryce Jackman, who had worked with Squire as members of The Syn and on Squire's solo album Fish Out of Water (1975).[27] Squire later considered "Onward" as one of the best songs he ever wrote.[15] "Onward" was performed live in 1996 and features an acoustic guitar introduction from Howe entitled "Unity". This was released on their live/studio album Keys to Ascension (1996).

"On the Silent Wings of Freedom" features Squire playing with a Mu-Tron Envelope Shaper effect.[29]

Sleeve design[edit]

The album's title and sleeve design refers to Yes Tor, a high point in Devon.

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 Yes Tor, the second highest hill on Dartmoor, an area of moorland in Devon, England.[30] Wakeman claimed to have thrown a tomato at the pictures taken for the album as he recalled the band were disappointed with the initial artwork which had cost a lot of money.[8] The album's title and cover was changed accordingly.[31][32] Howe said it was someone at Hipgnosis who threw the tomato and they did so on purpose, which insulted him.[30] According to White, the band was unable to decide on a 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".[30] Yes manager Brian Lane said the band disliked the pictures that Hipgnosis had taken at Yes Tor, "and we threw the tomatoes. [...] It wasn't Rick".[18]

The sleeve includes a photograph of the band that was taken in Regent's Park, London, with each member wearing a bomber jacket and sunglasses and looking in a different direction.[30][33] 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.[33]


Tormato was released in the UK on 22 September 1978.[34] Upon its release in the US, the album was broadcast in its entirety on WIOQ in Philadelphia at midnight on 29 September.[35] It reached No. 8 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 10 on the US Billboard 200. "Don't Kill the Whale" was released as a single in September 1978 and peaked at No. 36 in the UK singles chart.[36] 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
AllMusic2/5 stars[37]
Rolling Stone(unfavourable)[2]

Steve Pond gave a mixed review of Tormato in The Los Angeles Times who thought the album lacked distinctive melodies and are replaced by experimental and extended instrumental sections similar to that of Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973) and Relayer (1974) which made them "distant and unappetizing". However, Pond continues to note that "eventually, it emerges as one of Yes' strongest and most important albums" with its balance of songs that display the band's traditional sound with contemporary progressive rock approach to that of U.K.. He picked up on the album's "raw energy and forcefulness" which made Going for the One such a success, with "Future Times/Rejoice" as a good example of the band's new approach and praised White and Squire as a rhythm section. Pond was critical of "Arriving UFO" and "Circus of Heaven", two tracks that are overwhelmed with "studio trickery and sound effects".[39] A review in The Morning News ranked the album as sub-par to Going for the One as the majority of the songs lacked a distinct melody, "rhythmic thrust", or rock sound than the previous album's title track. It ranked "Future Times/Rejoice" as the best track on Tormato.[40] In The Pittsburgh Press, Pete Bishop noted the hard rock sound of Going for the One continues on Tormato though it's "not the best idiom" for Anderson's vocals but cites "Don't Kill the Whale" and "Release, Release" as highlight tracks. Nonetheless he notes that "it's hard to fault any of the music on this album" with each member "playing up a storm", but continues to say that the songs never get further "than your eardrums" because of the "rapid, say-nothing lyrics it always has".[41]

In the Detroit Free Press, reviewer Bill Braunstein ranked the album as the band's best album since Close to the Edge and contains "all the Yes trademarks" of "intricate sophisticated arrangements", Anderson's "undecipherable" lyrics and a "strongly stylized sound". To Braunstein, Tormato contains no weak tracks, though Howe's guitar work on "Don't Kill the Whale" make up for what he considered "a little hackneyed in its sentiments". He picked "Onward" as the strongest track, and Wakeman's keyboards as the factor that "really bring the album together".[25] Chris Carson in the Press and Sun-Bulletin was more positive, thinking Tormato as the most accessible album since The Yes Album (1971) as it is "simply fun to listen to" and puts it down to the success of side one. He wrote "Future Times/Rejoice" and "Don't Kill the Whale" are "uncluttered" and boast "peppy qualities" that feature Anderson's "dreamy vocals" and Wakeman's "rollercoasting" keyboards. Carson compared "Arriving UFO" as "Pink Floyd territory" that continues the hectic pace of side one, before "Circus of Heaven" and "Onward" reveal his major criticism with Tormato in that both "dreamy" songs follow one another until "On the Silent Wings of Freedom" creates a "quick recovery".[42] Band biographer Chris Welch summarised the main subject of criticism for the album is the production quality, typified by a compressed and dull sound.[43]

Wakeman said the album became a "tragedy" as it had poor artwork and production, but good music.[8]


Organisation Level Date
RIAA – US Gold[44] 10 October 1978
Platinum[44] 8 November 1978
BPI – UK Silver[34] 13 September 1978


  • 1988 – Atlantic – CD
  • 1994 – Atlantic – CD (Remastered)
  • 2004 – Rhino – CD (Remastered with bonus tracks)
  • 2018 - Atlantic - LP (Sold for RSD2018)(Picture Disc)[45]


Yes supported the album with a 101-date tour of North America and the UK between 28 August 1978 and 30 June 1979. It marked their first tour with the group performing in-the-round that featured a six-ton, £50,000 revolving stage with a 360-degree lighting system fitted above it.[46][47] The idea was conceived by their longtime lighting technician Michael Tait who then worked with Clair Brothers to develop the sound system to go with it.[48] The driving mechanism that moved the stage failed during an early gig, resulting in the band's roadies to push it by hand.[46] The 1978 leg included four consecutive sold out nights at Madison Square Garden in New York City that sold out in three days and earned the group a Gold Ticket Award for selling 100,000 tickets and grossing over $1 million in box office receipts.[47][46] Yes performed three additional dates there in June 1979.

Track listing[edit]

Side one
1."Future Times"/"Rejoice"Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman, Alan White6:46
2."Don't Kill the Whale"Anderson, Squire3:56
3."Madrigal"Anderson, Wakeman2:25
4."Release, Release"Anderson, White, Squire5:44
Side two
1."Arriving UFO"Anderson, Howe, Wakeman6:07
2."Circus of Heaven"Anderson4:31
4."On the Silent Wings of Freedom"Anderson, Squire7:47


Credits adapted from the album's 1978 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


  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 c 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. ^ Sullivan, Steve. "Yes Shows – 1970s – 1977". Forgotten Yesterdays. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  4. ^ a b Hedges 1982, p. 120.
  5. ^ WIOQ interview 1978, 17:07–17:52.
  6. ^ a b c Wasahla, Steve (31 August 1978). "In the Groove: Original Interview". Messenger-Press. p. 7. Retrieved 4 April 2019 – via
  7. ^ Welch 2008, p. 174.
  8. ^ a b c d Popoff 2016, p. 76.
  9. ^ Giles, Jeff (20 September 2013). "35 Years Ago: Yes' 'Tormato' Album Released". Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  10. ^ "Travels With Yes". Modern Recording. March 1979. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  11. ^ a b c d e Milano, Dominic (February 1979). "Rick Wakeman: On the Road and Beyond with Yes". Contemporary Keyboard Magazine. Vol. 5 no. 2. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  12. ^ a b Popoff 2016, p. 75.
  13. ^ Hedges 1982, p. 122.
  14. ^ Tiano, Mike (13 December 1993). "Conversation with Steve Howe". Notes from the Edge. Archived from the original on 18 March 2018. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  15. ^ a b c d e Kirkman 2016, p. 22.
  16. ^ Crane, Larry (January 2013). "Brian Kehew (bonus): Digging in the Vaults". Tape Op. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  17. ^ WIOQ interview 1978, 18:28–18:57.
  18. ^ a b Yes: The Ultimate Music Guide 2018, p. 75.
  19. ^ WIOQ interview 1978, 18:57–17:32.
  20. ^ Perlah, Jeff (8 March 2017). "Rick Wakeman's Piano Journey Into Yes, Bowie". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  21. ^ WIOQ interview 1978, 19:42–20:10.
  22. ^ a b Morse, p. 64.
  23. ^ a b WIOQ interview 1978, 20:12–21:23.
  24. ^ WIOQ interview 1978, 21:28–23:48.
  25. ^ a b Braunstein, Bill (19 November 1978). "Rick Wakeman just can't say no to Yes". Detroit Free Press. p. 19D. Retrieved 12 May 2018 – via
  26. ^ WIOQ interview 1978, 23:50–23:48.
  27. ^ a b Morse, p. 65.
  28. ^ Hedges 1982, p. 121.
  29. ^ Tiano, Mike (1 October 1996). "NFTE: Interview with Chris Squire". Notes from the Edge. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  30. ^ a b c d Welch, p. 175.
  31. ^ Wright, Jeb (May 2002). "Rick Wakeman of Yes". Classic Rock Revisited. Archived from the original on 6 January 2004. Retrieved 24 October 2009.
  32. ^ Tiano, Mike (3 September 2008). "Conversation with Roger Dean (nfte #308)". Notes From the Edge. Archived from the original on 2 November 2008. Retrieved 24 October 2009.
  33. ^ a b Welch, p. 176.
  34. ^ a b c "Certified Awards". BPI. Select keyword "Tormato", By award : Gold, By Format : Album. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  35. ^ "Yes' 'Tormato' spins at midnight on WIOQ". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 29 September 1978. p. 22. Retrieved 12 May 2018 – via
  36. ^ Welch, p. 177.
  37. ^ Allmusic review
  38. ^ Pitchfork review
  39. ^ Pond, Steve (1 October 1978). "Affirmative vote on Yes' new album 'Tormato'". The Los Angeles Times. p. 74. Retrieved 12 May 2018 – via
  40. ^ "Yes: this isn't the one". The Morning News. Wilmington, Delaware. 8 October 1978. p. C-3. Retrieved 12 May 2018 – via
  41. ^ Bishop, Pete (5 November 1978). "'Tormato' a rocker for Yes". The Pittsburgh Press. p. 145. Retrieved 12 May 2018 – via
  42. ^ Carson, Chris (18 October 1978). "Yes has recaptured early fun". Press and Sun-Bulletin. Binghamton, New York. p. 17. Retrieved 12 May 2018 – via
  43. ^ Chris Welch, Close to the Edge: The Story of Yes, pg. 174, Omnibus Press (2003), ISBN 0-7119-9509-5
  44. ^ a b "RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for Tormato". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  45. ^ "Yes - Tormato".
  46. ^ a b c Yes: The Ultimate Music Guide 2018, pp. 72–74.
  47. ^ a b Wooding 1978, p. 197.
  48. ^ Yes: The Ultimate Music Guide 2018, pp. 72–73.