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The Yayhoos

Fear Not the Obvious

(Bloodshot; US: 7 Aug 2001)

The Yayhoos are talent-packed, but they could hardly be considered a supergroup. If it weren’t for the brief success of the Georgia Satellites, the band would have no name recognition at all. Quadruple songwriting threats, the Yayhoos consist of Terry Anderson, Eric Ambel, Keith Christopher, and former Satellites frontman Dan Baird. Baird’s obviously the most well-known of the four, but Terry Anderson actually wrote the Satellites hit “Battleship Chains” and the Baird solo tune “I Love You Period”. Ambel, for his part, was a founding member of seminal roots-rock band the Del-Lords, while Christopher honed his chops as the bassist for Shaver.

If those credentials aren’t enough to tell you which way the Yayhoos’ musical winds are blowing, the album’s title sums it up nicely. The Yayhoos sound is upfront, boisterous, and obvious—it’s a good bet the guys didn’t sit around in the studio debating how their harmonies could best represent the ennui of modern man in an increasingly cold world. This unpretentious vibe even filters down to the liner notes, where members are credited with “the guitar on the left” or singing “on some more stuff”. If the Georgia Satellites crashed to Earth like some fragment of Hillbilly Planet X, the Yayhoos were the ones poking around the smoking crater, soaking up the radiation.

Things get off to a raucous start with “What Are We Waiting For”, three minutes of straight-ahead guitars, drums, and Jackie Gleason references. Baird’s trademark barroom yelp is in fine form, and the song establishes a ramshackle vibe that barely lets up for the album’s duration. “Get Right with Jesus” is a tongue-in-cheek vow to make both spiritual and romantic amends, while “Bottle and a Bible” takes the reprobate’s lifestyle for a more serious spin (even if it doesn’t maintain the crackle of the songs around it). “I Can Give You Everything” is a pure Stones riff-fest, and “Wicked World” rumbles along on an ominous drum beat and snarling guitar. If, after all that, there’s any doubt that these guys have their hearts soaking in big vats of bacon grease, “Hankerin’” (as in “I got a hankerin’ for your lu-uvvvvv”) should settle the matter.

Fear Not the Obvious isn’t perfect—too much inspection could render some of the riffs repetitive and the lyrical ideas a little soft. This type of rock, though, is the marrow that runs through the bones of rock that tries to “get above its raisin’”. If you’re feeling a little pale from what VH1 passes off as rock these days, then the beer-fueled twang of the Yayhoos is a fine remedy. The Yayhoos play by pure feel, and when the results click, it’s as much fun as any Southern rock since the first Black Crowes record. Even their remarkably faithful cover of Abba’s “Dancing Queen”, replete with walls of guitars and nasally harmonies, works.

If the Yayhoos were asked who they favored, they’d probably take Elvis over the Beatles; they’ve got that early Sun Records hip-shaking vibe all over the place. In fact, I defy anyone to listen to “For Cryin’ Out Loud” without getting caught up in the chorus, or to hear “Oh! Chicago” without getting a light case of happy feet. If you can? Well, as Mojo Nixon once put it, you must not have any Elvis in you.

Andrew Gilstrap is a freelance writer living in South Carolina, where he's able to endure the few weeks each year that it's actually freezing (swearing a vow that if he ever moves, it'll be even farther south). Aging into a fine curmudgeon whose idea of heaven is 40 tree-covered acres away from the world, he increasingly wishes he were part of a pair of twins, just so he could try being the kinda evil one on for size. Musically, he's always scouring records for that one moment that makes him feel like he's never heard music before, but he long ago realized he needs to keep his copies of John Prine, Crowded House, the Replacements, Kate Bush, and Tom Waits within easy reach.

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