YaHoWah, praise be to God, that mysterious take on hippy-drippy new-age spirituality created by the Source family is only now being revealed. Long story short, the Source family was a cult in the Hollywood hills during the 1970s, led like a rockstar by the charismatic Father Yod, husband to 12 wives, driver of a Rolls, pioneer of modern vegetarian cuisine and leader of perhaps the decade’s most enigmatic psychedelic improvisational collective, the YaHoWah 13.
Those familiar with the recordings of the group might have reservations with Songs from the Source, as much of the album adheres to the flowerchild soundtracks of the day like Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair, instead of the lengthy amorphous jams of the family. The first half, in particular, boogies with numbers that mix rhythm and blues, acid rock and female choruses—the definition of all-join-in, show-stopping camp.
The Children of the Sixth Root Race were in theory a branch off the YaHoWah 13, though in 1973 they were known as the Spirit of ‘76, formed to play a prestigious one-time show at the Whisky. Yod was only producer, handing the reigns over to Djin Aquarian, who narrates the cautionary tale of man gone astray and saved by God, their divinity eventually chanted as “YaHoWah” ad nausea. Judging from the liner notes written 35 years later, the record could also be considered Djin’s miniature biography. Apparently he found the light.
No matter how free and easy the first half of Songs appears, the underlying prog ‘n’ choogling lead guitar of Zoroaster on “Godman” predicts the doomsday trip of the second half. He’s the family’s secret ingredient, a prodigy grooving in his own maze. Try to imagine Captain Beyond in white robes, surrounded by the Kelly Affair. They did claim to see the future, and this last hurrah is the album’s ecstatic prophecy.
Beginning with “Catastrophy,” Djin tells the story of the oncoming nuclear war “that could happen in 1975, or maybe 1976,” wherein mankind will suffer “mass hysteria and collective badness.” And “in the year 1987 there will be a shifting of the world’s axis,” complete with tidal waves and the rising and falling of continents. It’s clunky but enthralling spoken-word kitsch—were they serious or were they stoned? That’s followed though by the album’s highlight, the rousing “Go With the Flow,” a smoking soul picnic as played by Yes celebrating the family’s survival through the apocalypse. The epic finale, “We Are the Dinosaurs” predicts that wherever Djin, Zoroaster, Ahom, Cinderella and Yod are today, they have been reincarnated reptiles, a ominously primal finale to a mighty colorful listen.
Without the guitar of Zoroaster and the puzzling but welcome trilogy that completes it, though, Songs from the Source is simply unearthed average psych-exotica. Be that as it may, those odd elements are intact and the truths and yarns about Father Yod and the family resurrected for modern music lovers always searching for a little enlightenment.
Kevin J. Elliott