God and Hair: Yahowha Collection

Father Yod / Ya Ho Wa 13

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God and Hair: Yahowha Collection Review

by Richie Unterberger

A prime contender for one of the oddest box sets in all of rock music, this is a 13-CD collection of material recorded by the floating ensembles of musicians affiliated with guru-type figure Father Yod/Yahowa. That is not a typo, you read it right: 13 CDs. This includes all four of the albums released in 1973-1974 by Father Yod & the Spirit of '76; all five of the albums released in 1974-1975 by Yahowa 13; the 1977 eight-track tape Golden Sunrise by spinoff act Fire, Water, Air; and the circa late '70s privately pressed LP, almost certainly by Yod disciples, titled Yodship. On top of that, there are also two non-LP singles by Father Yod & the Spirit of '76; a non-LP single by Yahowa 13; an entire disc of "related singles" (which usually means Sky Saxon sings, even if they're not directly Yahowa-related) from the '70s by World Peace Band, SS Dragon Slayers, Universal Stars Band, and Hale Sunlight Wings White Magick + Being Poor; and, finally, a disc of unreleased material, most of it by Fire, Water, Air, concluding with some chants and a spoken message from Sky Saxon. Perhaps only the truly insane will fork out the hefty sum for this limited-edition (3,000 copies) monstrosity. But it's actually the only way you're going to find most of this music, unless you're willing to fork out ungodly sums for the originals. The music defies capsule review summarization, but it's largely improvised late-period guitar psychedelia, often dominated by the ranting vocals of Father Yod. There are surprise detours, however, into limpid singer/songwriter rock (Father Yod & the Spirit of '76's 1974 album All or Nothing at All) and not-too-shabby Neil Young & Crazy Horse soundalikes (Yahowa 13's 1974 album Savage Sons of Yahowa). Savage Sons of Yahowa and its follow-up, the mostly instrumental, creepy space-rock of Penetration: An Aquarian Symphony, are really the only two albums which hold up as music worthy of reinvestigation. No doubt there's an interesting story behind all of this mess, but most of you won't be able to learn it even by buying the box set; the extensive liner notes are almost entirely in Japanese.