Transitional Chaos is a good term to describe the period in pop music in the late 70's thru the 80's. Matter of fact, it describes the status of most "classic" 70's bands that were still together. During this time of disco infiltration, emerging punk, new wave & finally music videos, many found themselves labeled as "dinosaurs." Desperate for hits, many old horses caved in to record company pressure and accepted outside producers or inferior songs written by "sure thing" hacks (Chicago, Kiss). Still other bands that remained true to themselves mailed in lackluster material in an attempt to ride out the storm (Kansas, Tull, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith).
Culled from the belly of the beast (for Yes anyway), 1978's Tormato & 1980's Drama represent the struggles of a once great rock band trying to remain relevant during a period when rock was becoming singularly irrelevant. Rhino Records has put together great looking & sounding re-master packages, including (I like this) CD's with original record label art silk screened on the disks themselves. Those of us old enough to own records remember how a band that had really made it had clout enough to extend their design theme right past the sacred standard red & green "Atlantic" or red "Columbia" label. Well, that's here, on the disks (strangely, Drama was the 1st Yes label since 1973's Tales From Topographic Ocean to reduce them back to Atlantic's standard red & green label design). Follow? Hrgh.
Known as the album that broke up Yes, Tormato gets a somewhat undeservedly bad rep. If you're interested in Yes, you know all the "whys" (or you can read them in the great new liner notes by Brian Ives). Fact is, other than the ridiculous ending on "Circus of Heaven," a few weak arrangements & "boxy" late 70's sound, there's really no stinkers. "Madrigal" & "Onward" are two of the Yes-est tracks ever recorded, & the slamming "Release, Release" is one of their best aggressors.
Even more maligned than Tormato is Drama--a love it or hate it collection that holds the unenviable distinction of being the only Yes album without Jon Anderson. Couple that with the 2nd departure of Rick Wakeman, & this could have been cookies without milk. While it's shocking at times to not hear Anderson, the performances & especially engineering by Eddie Offord pack enough credibility to pull it off. After all the drama (heh-heh) of "Machine Messiah," "Into the Lens" & "Tempus Fugit," I really dig "Man In A White Car." In other words, there really are no bad tunes on the disk.
Anyway, there's plenty here for what you buy re-masters for, including insightful liner notes, cool pics (Geoff Downes really had some cool pants for a straight guy), several awful bonus tracks, warts & all (did Jon Anderson forget how to sing on key for a while?)-and a few gems. Included on Drama are 3 tracks from the ill-fated 1979 Paris sessions with producer Roy Thomas Baker which all but predicated the break up of the band (and after you hear them, you'll know why). Likewise, Tormato includes an early rendition of Drama's "Does It Really Happen," with Anderson singing. Of course, this blub is for fans (short for "fanatics," which includes me) only. Bottom line is, the albums sound better than they ever have, with a slightly noticeable high-end improvement, sorely lacking in most late 70's pop recordings.
1) Future Times
3) Don't Kill the Whale
5) Release, Release
6) Circus of Heaven
8) On the Silent Wings of Freedom
12) Some Are Born
13) You Can Be Saved
15) Days (demo)
17) Everybody's Song (early demo of "Does It Really Happen")
1) Machine Messiah
2) White Car
3) Does It Really Happen?
4) Into the Lens
5) Run Through the Light
6) Tempur Fugit
7) Into the Lens (I Am A Camera) -(Single Version)
8) Run Through the Light (Single Version)
9) Have We Really Got to Go Through This
10) Song No. 4 (Satellite)
11) Temput Fugit (Tracking Session)
12) White Car (Tracking Session)
13) Dancing Through the Light (1979 Paris Sessions)
14) Golden Age (1979 Paris Sessions)
15) In the Tower (1979 Paris Sessions)
16) Friend of a Friend (1979 Paris Sessions)