Yes, “Arriving UFO” from Tormato (1978): YESterdays

If “Madrigal” from Tormato ends too soon, Yes’ “Arriving UFO” seems instead to overstay its welcome.

Lyrically, Jon Anderson goes out on a ledge with a hippy dream of outer-worldly visitors. Making matters worse is a vocal mix that’s so muddy, Anderson seems as garbled and distant as his lyrics.

Yes actually gets off to an interesting musical beginning, with Steve Howe’s guitar and Chris Squire’s bass offering an evocative interplay, but by the time Anderson enters, “Arriving UFO” already feels hopelessly lost. Compounding matters is Rick Wakeman’s strident Moog synthesizer chords, which weigh down yet another Tormato song.

Howe’s guitar is almost lost halfway into the song, leaving only Alan White’s snare to cut through the musical haze. Perhaps Yes could have salvaged this with a more subtle arrangement and a more focused production.

As it stands, “Arriving UFO” has earned a special and dubious place in the canon of the world’s greatest progressive rock band.


Preston Frazier’s YESterdays is a song-by-song feature that explores the unforgettable musical legacy of Yes. The series runs every other Tuesday.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier