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Studio album by Yes
Released 22 September 1978
Recorded February–June 1978
Studio Advision Studios
(Fitzrovia, London)
RAK Studios
(Regent's Park, London)[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 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 from the group in 1980. After wrapping their tour in support of their previous album, Going for the One (1977), the band gathered in London in February 1978 to record a new album. The band encountered several issues that hindered its potential including their overall direction, the decision to produce it by themselves, and its uneven quality.

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 1972–1974 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.



Tormato was recorded in London from February to June 1978, and is the band's first recorded in two different studios, Advision Studios in Fitzrovia and RAK Studios in Regent's Park. Initially they were split where the recording should take place; some members wished to work outside England and Howe suggested somewhere "warm and comfortable and easy", while others preferred to record in London.[3][4] The early studio sessions saw the return of Eddy Offord working with the band as their engineer and producer since Relayer (1974), but his involvement came to an end soon after.[5] 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][6] 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."[7] Howe agreed with the view, and believed such tensions affected the album's sound quality and tone as a result.[8]

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",[7] and the Birotron, a tape relay keyboard which he had co-funded during its development and manufacturing since 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".[7] 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.[7] 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".[8] Howe picked out "Madrigal", "Release, Release", and "On the Silent Wings of Freedom" as the tracks he liked best.[3]


"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 which he said could produce "weird sounds" that resembled a whale.[9]

"Madrigal" features Wakeman playing a Thomas Goff harpsichord.

"Onward" has orchestral arrangements by Andrew Pryce Jackman,[10] 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 applied onto White's drum tracks to achieve a bigger drum sound.[11] The middle section features the sound of a crowd cheering that was incorporated into the guitar and drum solo as Wakeman reasoned the section on its own "sounded a bit dry". He claimed the crowd noise was taken from an English football match.[7][11]

"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.[10] Damion is heard at the end of the track.

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.[12] 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.[3] The album's title and cover was changed accordingly.[13][14] Wakeman said the album became a "tragedy" as it had poor artwork and production, but good music.[3] Howe said it was someone at Hipgnosis who threw the tomato on purpose, something that he felt insulted about.[12] 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".[12]

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.[12][15] 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.[15]


Tormato was released on 22 September 1978,[16] 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.[17] 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[18]
Pitchfork Media (3.8/10)[19]
Rolling Stone (unfavourable)[2]

The album received a mixed response upon its release;[20] the main subject of criticism for the album is the production quality, typified by a compressed and dull sound.[21] 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[22] 10 October 1978
Platinum[22] 8 November 1978
BPI – UK Silver[16] 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


  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. ^ a b c d Popoff 2016, p. 76.
  4. ^ Welch, p. 174.
  5. ^ Giles, Jeff (20 September 2013). "35 Years Ago: Yes' 'Tormato' Album Released". Retrieved 21 April 2015. 
  6. ^ "Travels With Yes". Modern Recording. March 1979. Retrieved 2 October 2016. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ a b Popoff 2016, p. 75.
  9. ^ Perlah, Jeff (8 March 2017). "Rick Wakeman's Piano Journey Into Yes, Bowie". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  10. ^ a b Morse, p. 65.
  11. ^ a b Morse, p. 64.
  12. ^ a b c d Welch, p. 175.
  13. ^ Wright, Jeb (May 2002). "Rick Wakeman of Yes". Classic Rock Revisited. Archived from the original on 6 January 2004. Retrieved 24 October 2009. 
  14. ^ Tiano, Mike (3 September 2008). "Conversation with Roger Dean (nfte #308)". Notes From the Edge. Retrieved 24 October 2009. 
  15. ^ a b Welch, p. 176.
  16. ^ a b c "Certified Awards". BPI. Select keyword "Tormato", By award : Gold, By Format : Album. Retrieved 20 April 2015. 
  17. ^ Welch, p. 177.
  18. ^ Allmusic review
  19. ^ Pitchfork review
  20. ^ Emerson, Ken (28 December 1978). "Yes: Tormato". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 24 October 2009. 
  21. ^ Chris Welch, Close to the Edge: The Story of Yes, pg. 174, Omnibus Press (2003), ISBN 0-7119-9509-5
  22. ^ a b "RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for Tormato". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 20 April 2015.