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Tormato - Steve... STOP PLAYING

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    Tormato - Steve... STOP PLAYING



    I have been listening to Tormato a lot over the last few days. There are a few reasons for this. One main one was the gushing praise it received in the Dan hedges book that I had recently re-read.

    Anyways, it's always been one fo my favourites and I could get past the criticism it receives in relation to the production. Now production in terms of sound doesn't really bother me as I listen for the music not the production.

    Now, Listening to the album, it’s apparent that in terms of vocals and playing, Jon, Chris and Alan are absolutely at the top of their game. Alan plays with a lot of invention and power, but also class and finesse when required. He plays in a very musical way. Jons voice and wonderful and his melodies and really quite superb - on Madrigal he is amazing and the song is an absolute gem, beautifully supported by Rick and Steve ( more of which I will comment on in a second). Chris is also magnificent through out the album , either on bass or vocals ( less said about the piano the better probably but hey!) and he really works well with Alan as a rhythm section but also has part of the harmonic foundation of the songs.

    So Jon Alan and Chris receive full marks: 10/10. Five stars.

    Ah but Rick and Steve.

    One thing that has always bothered me though is based on comments Steve made in ( i think) the Chris Welch book about Yes where he says him and Rick playing all over the place and getting in each others way. Now thats an interesting comment as listening to the album yesterday I think Steve is the main culprit, not Rick.

    From the opening fanfare of FT/R to the end of OTSWOF, Steve never shuts up!. He's relentless. he just plays and plays and plays and plays and plays and gives very little room to everyone else.

    i'll not go into all the tracks as I'm sure we've all got better things to do with our time, but I'll highlight a few things.

    The most obvious one to me is Onward. What a beautiful song. restrained bass playing for Chris and wonderful harmonies. Jon is fantastic on it as well and the string and horn arrangement are beautiful. It's an absolutely gorgeous song. But that monotonous arpeggio figure that goes through it it is absolutely unnecessary and really diminishes the song . Rick and the string section cover sparingly towards the end which would have been a nice touch had the previous 4 minutes not had Steve.


    On The Silent Wings of Freedom is a monumental piece of music and and showcases Chris and Alans dynamic musical relationship throughout but particularly in the opening salvo. However there is also hardly a minute of this rhythm section showcase that Steve isn’t running up and down scales, playing over Chris - battering away on his fret board like is was covered in ants and he was trying to squish them individually, often times just a blizzard of completely unnecessary notes to the detriment of the bass parts. Rick plays his supportive role very well in the song though he does get a great solo - two in fact. Yes his sound choice is a bit suspect in for the solo but he plays it well. More importantly his atmospheric playing - starting at 4:38 - is stunning, restrained and appropriate. it really build the tension ( the church bells help as well - brilliant touch)

    Steve however - as he does on just about every moment on Tormato - fills every gap in the song he can , soloing over Chris, soloing over the vocals .. i’m surprised he isn’t soloing over the run out grooves of the record before the arms lifts off! As I said before, it’s relentless. He simply doesn’t give up, and gives no thought to the appropriateness of what he’s doing to the song or the songs. you could lift his guitar part for one song and slip it onto another for all the relevance it has to the music. Everyone else seems to be playing to the service of the song, but Steve seems hell bent on filling every space with notes. This simply isnt the case with Rick. He manfully supports and augentments music. His keybords shne throughout - though again some of the sounds are pretty off the mark. but musicly Like Chris Alan and Jon , for me he comes out with a high score. Steve does not.

    Now the law of averages mean that: a) U2 do have some good songs and b) Steve does have some nice moments on Tormato. Some of the solos - the guitar break in release release for example - are amazing, and as in the afore mentioned madrigal of course- plenty of what he does works well, but I think he’s out of control for most of Tormato.

    Tomato is a fantastic record - one of my favs. Truth be told, I even like the cover. It's pretty cool.

    I just wish Steve had shown a little bit more self control. And taken more of the blame if any is needed.




    Last edited by gbh90125; 12-15-2022, 04:24 AM.

    #2
    Originally posted by gbh90125 View Post

    From the opening fanfare of FT/R to the end of OTSWOF, Steve never shuts up!. He's relentless. he just plays and plays and plays and plays and plays and gives very little room to everyone else.

    I just wish Steve had shown a little bit more self control. And taken more of the blame if any is needed.
    You pretty much lost me here. We should be so lucky that Steve play as relentlessly and without “self control” these days. You’d rather have the sparse, slow tempo and uninspired Steve of today? More Quest and Heaven and Earth mojo? I’ll pass, thank you very much.

    Have you ever heard the beginning of Close to the Edge, the middle section of Soundchaser, the pedal steel wailing throughout Going for the One, the constant strat screaming in Paralells, the heavy riffing that graces the entirety of Drama, the blistering guitar blitzkrieg that is on display during South Side of the Sky? Give me Steve’s unrelentless playing any day of the week. I’ve said it many times but it’s worth saying it again here. Lots of us would be over the moon if the current Yes created an album of the same quality as Tormato. Tormato is a diamond compared to the lumps of coal Yes is shoveling out these days.



    Comment


      #3
      I disagree with both of these takes. For me, the problem is that the tone of both the guitar and keyboards is not the best. They both used different sounds and effects compared to previous albums, and it doesn’t sound as good as a result. The birotron is annoying at times.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Enlighten View Post

        Have you ever heard the beginning of Close to the Edge, the middle section of Soundchaser, the pedal steel wailing throughout Going for the One, the constant strat screaming in Paralells, the heavy riffing that graces the entirety of Drama, the blistering guitar blitzkrieg that is on display during South Side of the Sky? Give me Steve’s unrelentless playing any day of the week. I’ve said it many times but it’s worth saying it again here. Lots of us would be over the moon if the current Yes created an album of the same quality as Tormato. Tormato is a diamond compared to the lumps of coal Yes is shoveling out these days.
        Totally agree with you on the examples you give. but these are all song appropriate and I believe he gives room for everyone else as well. what he does fits with what everyoe else is doing. but on tormato that doesnt seem to be the case, as i hear it.


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          #5
          Part of the reason Fragile, Close to the Edge, Relayer, and Drama work so well is that Howe is first chair, with the keyboardists supporting him most of the time, and taking the lead when appropriate—“South Side of the Sky” is a perfect example. I think Wakeman may have chafed at this and made it a condition of his return in 1977 that he get something closer to equal airtime, which sounds more than fair when you consider his name recognition outside the band. But to me, Yes has functioned best when it was not fair and balanced between guitar and keyboards. I see Tormato as strong evidence of this.

          Comment


            #6
            I have to agree with the poster. Steve and Rick seemed to be having a contest who could play the most notes, and loudest, It seems there could have been much more going on in the arranging dept with Steve and Rick (see CTTE, Fragile, or even Drama). But I do have to admit, in all its overplaying madness, I still love it. But the poster does make a valid point, and I agree Chris, Alan, and Jon, were all great and more composed.

            And no more blaming the Biotron, it's the guy running the Biotron's fault!
            Last edited by Somis Sound; 12-15-2022, 04:30 PM.

            Comment


              #7
              I think the problem with Tormato isn't really Steve and Rick, even if they do play too often play meaningless stuff on their respective instruments. It's the lack of inspired songwriting. Remove Onward and Release Release, and there isn't a lot of good material. Even OTSWOF loses its way at the middle point of the song. You can tell that the guys are getting tired and are going through the motion. After they record those terrible Paris demos. Too many albums and tours back to back. It would have been wise to stop after GFTO and take six months off but back then, bands were working all the time. They were not the only ones stuck in a rut. 1978 "gave" us Love Beach by ELP and "And Then There Were Three" by Genesis...

              Comment


                #8
                I agree only with the Onward comment in the opening of this thread. And therein lies the crux: why is it bad? Because it’s monotonous. Everywhere else on the album Steve is anything but monotonous.
                Tormato was the second Yes album I owned. So you can imagine my surprise coming from Relayer into this album. Is it dense? Yes. Is it frantic? Yes. More than ever before? Yes. Is that bad? No.
                Last edited by Ceasar’s Palace; 12-16-2022, 05:12 AM.

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                  #9
                  The only thing I'd change on Tormato is to put Money in the Circus of Heaven spot

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                    #10
                    Originally posted by michelforest View Post
                    I think the problem with Tormato isn't really Steve and Rick, even if they do play too often play meaningless stuff on their respective instruments. It's the lack of inspired songwriting. Remove Onward and Release Release, and there isn't a lot of good material. Even OTSWOF loses its way at the middle point of the song. You can tell that the guys are getting tired and are going through the motion. After they record those terrible Paris demos. Too many albums and tours back to back. It would have been wise to stop after GFTO and take six months off but back then, bands were working all the time. They were not the only ones stuck in a rut. 1978 "gave" us Love Beach by ELP and "And Then There Were Three" by Genesis...
                    You are right, when a band is getting tired and running out of gas, a break is an excellent idea. They definitely needed a break. The Paris Sessions are dreadful and so uncool. Makes Tormato sound as good as CTTE! I happen to like a lot of Tormato. Future Time Rejoice is great. DTKW is a good little rocker, Arriving UFO is good weird, Madrigal and Onward are both beautiful. But Yes on some of the other tracks they do sound tired and a bit out of touch. Not to mention the loud over playing by Rick and Steve and lack of solid arrangements. The songs that are very arranged like Onward and Madrigal really stick out because they are more composed and less frantic. But I do enjoy some of the franticness!
                    Last edited by Somis Sound; 12-16-2022, 01:50 PM.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I agree that there are some sections where a little less guitar would improve some of the sections.
                      But I am not sure that Steve Howe's approach was any different on Tormato.
                      I think there is a chance he often plays a great deal, it's just that he gets mixed out when the engineer/producer wants a little less guitar. There have been times, when discussing other Yes albums, where Steve Howe has complained about getting mixed out. In the case of Tormato, it seemed that all members were present for the mix and pushing for their parts to be left in.
                      Last edited by True; 12-17-2022, 09:28 AM.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Onward; well maybe Steve’s guitar part is mixed a tiny little bit a couple of dBs too loud in places, but IMO it is meant to be a background part, rhythmic, percussive, hypnotic. Bubbling along underneath the surface, the wall that the painting of melody & lyrics is hanging on, like some of Bruford’s melodic electronic drumming in KC & Earthworks. Not to be focused on, unless you want to make sure he didn’t flub a note in there somewhere, and who would waste 4:05 to do that?
                        Does it bother you as much when a drummer hits the snare on the 2nd & 4th beat of the bar almost every time for a whole song?

                        I think Onward is a tiny gem of a Squire song (like Disillusion and Can You Imagine) but flaws may be found when a gem is magnified (no Yes pun intended).
                        What bugs me about Onward, there’s something in the middle instrumental orchestral bit that always makes me think of The Fool On The Hill.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by gbh90125 View Post
                          But that monotonous arpeggio figure that goes through it it is absolutely unnecessary and really diminishes the song .
                          The song is literally built around it. It is the most important part of the song !

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by RelayerI View Post

                            The song is literally built around it. It is the most important part of the song !
                            I agree that this guitar part is important to the structure of this tune. Again, it was a bit more up front in the mix than it needed to be, and I do feel that at about half- volume, it would have been ideal, and not at all distracting.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I think the album is terrific as is. I'd love to hear a remix if one day possible but I love it as is. It was my "gateway" album way back in78

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