next album, _Savage Sons of Ya Ho Wa_, adds Rhythm Aquarian to
the line-up and finds Electron Aquarian replacing Yahowa in the
vocal perch. What results is the most wildly rocking album of
the bunch. It's reminiscent of something Crazy Horse might
have done in the early '70s, if they had been deranged by fruit
juice. The fried Screamin' Jay Hawkins-like vocals of Electron
on "Fire in the Sky" are particularly evocative of a
bad trip. Combined with the toad-ripping guitar and stubby rhythms
which fill the album, this is a real meal. Naturally, it is pooh-poohed
by hardcore Yod aficianados as being too unmystical. Go figure.
For me, this is the one, and "Oh Ya Ho Wa" is a harmonica-bled
blues-punk genius that should be called "Yod Kept a Rollin'."
For the next pair of albums the group called itself Yahowa 13
continued to build on their strengths. For _Penetration: An Aquarian
Symphony_ Yod ousted Electron once and for all to take back the
microphone, but he lays out a lot. As a result, this album's best
parts are charged clouds of rock improvisation that float and
huzz in a very special way. Indeed, _Penetration_ contains more
aggressively distorted psych than anything else the family recorded.
This was followed by the epic double LP, _I'm Gonna Take You Home_,
which reunited the band with their long-lost brother Pythias Aquarian
(who'd been out of the fold since _Expansion_). This one has the
best cover quote, "Divine Communion time is here little kitties,"
and probably represents the best integration of vocals and music
the band achieved. There are five long, untitled tracks of ripped
guitar psych. On the best of them, Yahowa unleashes some post-tongue
vocals that incorporate all the sounds of barnyard revolution
while the guitarist destroys himself. And the whistling bits are
even better than Taj Mahal's. Which is saying something.
the end of 1974, The Source sold their restaurant, packed their
bags and moved to Hawaii. It was supposed to be paradise, but
Yahowa had a tough time finding a pad for himself and his 13
wives, and the locals were a bit hostile. They eventually went
to Northern California for a spell, before returning to Hawaii
to make their stand. _To the Principles for the Children_ was
recorded during this period and the tension shows a bit. The
album consists of two long tracks, broken into untitled fragments.
One of them is an ode to "woman power" worthy of Helen
Reddy. But more often Yahowa is in heavy chant mode, backed
by instrumental rounds that sound like the Magic Band's "Abba
Zabba." It's possible to sense that this album explains
a great deal of the Father's philosophy. But it's kinda tough
to make out the words. Still, it's heavily vocal and the ensemble
is blended w/ effects & percussion more than on other albums.
And when the kid's chorus of "Ya Ho Wha" starts up
at the end you'll feel like you've been somewhere.
on August 25, 1975, Yahowa decided he wanted to go hang gliding.
He'd never done it before, but he was adamant, so the family
went along with it. He took a short flight, landed badly and
broke his back. He refused medication, asking instead for massages
and salt packs. He died after about nine hours. Following his
instructions, the family gave him an enema, lit incense, and
chanted for three days before they called authorities to remove
his heat bloated corpse. Another rumor has persisted that Yahowa
was stuffed and mounted in the family's house, but it seems
more likely that he was cremated.
this time the family splintered, but the musical core of Yahowa
13 remained together, calling themselves Fire, Water, Air (which
is what I think Yahowa means in astrological terms). In 1977
they released an eight-track cartridge, _Golden Sunrise_, which
continued Yod's legacy. The playing is shockingly pro on parts
of this and it's hard to tell whether the effects are intentional
or whether the tape recorder was just out of phase. Still, when
Sky Sunlight Saxon joins the proceedings, about halfway through,
the session takes off. The extended psych jams are a perfect
match for Sky's boiling word-gush and the results are transportational.
Also excellent is the nude hippie cover pic. In fact it's so
perfect that it looks like that fake cover pic on HNAS's krautrock
this comes the mysterious _Yodship_ album, recorded sometime
in the late '70s by un-named members of the family. This has
two untitled suites in praise of Yod and is the record most
eerily reminiscent of those by other cultists (the Manson Family,
the Jonestown Choir, Spirit in the Flesh, Sun Ra's Arkestra,
etc.). The album as a whole has an edge of menace that gives
portions of it a very high rating on the loner folk-psych scale.
It is very much like the funeral rite for a dream. The final
two CDs are less germane. _Related Singles_ collects some odds
and ends from Sky Saxon's post-Yod recordings. There's some
nice enough garage rock here, but only a couple of tracks from
his truly-related '70s singles, and nothing from the _Lover's
Cosmic Voyage_ record. _Unreleased Material_ is a CD comprised
largely of dullish material by Earth, Water, Fire (of unknown
vintage, it could even be contemporary), plus some chanting
by various people, and a good rap from Sky about being nice
to dogs. These discs do not end things on the highest of all
possible notes, but their inclusion serves to tie up loose ends.
to the overall worth of the set, that depends largely on you.
The sound is adequate. Although the discs are obviously mastered
from LP, the sonics are much cleaner than on any of the LPs
that have been around. The playing times of the individual CDs
might give consumers pause. Some of them are extremely short
(the mean playing time is less than 40 minutes). But this can
be forgiven, as it is a necessity both for retaining the individual
albums' autonomic functions and for pushing the set's numerology
into the realm of the mystical 13. It was disappointing to see
that there was no English text (FMP's Taylor set had, after
all, bilingual annotation), and the price seems a bit steep.
But it is extraordinarily pleasing to have the cover illustrations
all in one place. Featuring nudity, astrology, balloons of god's
breath, a Rolls
Royce, loincloths, and so many of the other good things of life,
the covers provide a lovely visual analog to the music. if you
are at all attuned to strange vibes that drip like honey from
the creases of _God and Hair_, you will consider its purchase
price money well spent. As with the work of any true esoteric,
the aesthetic surface presented by the music on _God and Hair_
is just the outer skin of a vast onion. Many people could spend
time aplenty peeling and digging the work of Yahowha. Even "mere
fans" of crazed grassroots psychedelia will find plenty to enjoy.
And man, it looks great standing next to _Cecil Taylor
in Berlin_ on the shelf. So, like, what the heck? You may not
find yourself wanting to play this all the time, but during
those moments when you want to hear it, nothing else will suffice.
Or even come close.