If pop will eat itself then leave it to retro to devour your soul and belch out a freshly emptied wallet. Its latest victims are decked out in a Topshop-bought Motorhead t-shirts, lamenting the fact they spent the extra tenner needed for an ironic ‘FC/UK’ trucker cap on the last 3 Darkness singles.
But it’s ok. *Fu Manchu *are the light, smoke and fire at the end of such conditioned tunnel vision. Their first two albums, 1994’s No-One Rides For Free and the following year’s Daredevil have been re-issued to remind you what people who were actually influenced by 70s heavy metal evolved into (stoner rock) and simultaneously instil a smug superiority that comes from knowing that all the try-hards, poseurs and kids will be denied access to these albums only as a result of their own ignorance and pretentiousness.
Fu Manchu are unpretentious to the point of sounding positively unwashed. Their later material (see – or rather don’t – King Of The Road and California Crossing) may have lapsed into sanitised self-parody, but this is still back when Scott Hill sounds like he’s gargling bong water in-between vocal takes and the band are several years off getting tired of disappearing off over the nearest sand dune on roving, whacked-out tangents.
Of the two, Daredevil emerges as being superior due to it being the first time the Fu’s floor-splitting, flare-shaking sound was done justice by their then-producer, ex-Kyuss/future-FM drummer/future-future solo artist in his own porch-dwelling right, Brant Bjork. That said, the ‘Summer Girls’ interlude on No-One... gives an early indication of something detached, beard-stroking observers would call a ‘range’.
Whether these inspire you to load up on a 4x4 with a trunk full of mescaline and head off to Sky Valley, or merely to remember what great, honest rock music sounds like, what someone, somewhere has done is have Fu Manchu provide a blast from the past with impeccable timing.
Now that’s what I call retro.
8Alistair Lawrence's Score