Flat Out Against The Freaks

(A joint Canadian-Welsh venture, this simulcast has been brought to you by Mr Ladano and I.  We wanted to do something together and I wanted to revisit an early review of one of my very favourite LPs that wasn’t good enough either visually or writingally.  Hopefully this will now allow both our nations to finally put the terrible events of the Canado-Walesian war of 1892 aside and learn to live, love and respect each other once again; they started it though!)

Fu Manchu King Road 02

Cut yourself off from the pack
Flat out against the freaks 

So here we go – 1537 reviews a rock LP with no adolescent baggage attached, I never had my heart-broken to the sound of this LP, I never listened to this LP over and over trying to pluck up the courage to ask her out, I never listened to this LP drunk on cider and hormones down on the beach, I never played air guitar to the entirety of this LP last Thursday night embarrassing my kids in the process.  Hmmm, spot the lie.  The LP in question? the totally amazing Fu Manchu King of The Road.  Yowza! *

Fu Manchu King Road 07
Impossibly, effortlessly cool guys.

As always I bought this LP following a good review **, in the NME I think and thought if they’re praising a rock band it must be good; it was.  The beauty of King Of the Road is all right there in the cover and the inner sleeve, it’s all about vans, the open road, vans, skating and driving and did I mention vans? Fu Manchu are near enough my fave band and have been since 2000.  They just distil so much of what is great about 70s / 80s / 90s rock together in one groovy package, without sounding like anyone else at all.  On this LP in particular they just hit great riff, after great riff, after great freaking riff; I mean just try to listen to the riffs on ‘No Dice’ or ‘Boogie Van’ without nodding your head and/or grinning.  Now there are a goodly number of riffmongers roaming around out there in the rock undergrowth, but very few can write such great tunes around them too.  Okay I’ll come down off the fence and admit it – I love this LP.

Hey, ladies!
Hey, ladies!

A big part of the appeal for me is that Fu Manchu are selling a great lifestyle here – vans, sun, skating, sand, vans, bonfires of driftwood on the beach, vans, girls dancing barefoot in the sand, vans and beards.  A proper beach blanket bong out. Living in a rainy corner of the UK, this is damn enticing, despite the fact I burn easy.  More to the point, King of The Road actually sounds like the lifestyle the band are advocating, groovy, cool, detached and throbbing; be aware I don’t use the ‘T’ word lightly!

Fu Manchu King Road 03

Fu Manchu King Road 01

I can genuinely say I love every single track here, but my favourites are the low-key opener ‘Hell on Wheels’, with its immortal chorus ‘Hell on Wheels / It’s no big deal’, the righteous accelerator anger of ‘King of The Road’ which I have driven the 1537-mobile terrifyingly fast to (‘King of the road says you drive too slow!’) and ‘No Dice’, where the riff is so large that I swear you can hear the song actually breathe out and step aside to accommodate it.  The track ‘Weird Beard’, always a real highlight live, just oozes cool like you wouldn’t believe and their cover of Devo’s ‘Freedom Of Choice’ is just relentless*^.

Fu Manchu King Road 04

King Of The Road is that rarity for me in that its one of the few LP’s I have encountered in later life that I have listened to so many times I’ve completely internalized it, I know every millisecond of it, when one song finishes my mind is already singing the riff to the next track.  I used to know all my LPs that well as a kid but as listening time gets more limited by actually having to get up and go to work, this has rarely happened since.

Fu Manchu King Road 08

The band? each and every member is fabulous here, the rhythm section of Brad Davis and Brant Bjork particularly so (is there a cooler man in rock than Brant Bjork? I want to be him!), the underrated Bob Balch on lead guitar and the 2nd coolest man in rock, Scott Hill on guitar and vocals.  Scott Hill’s voice just fits each and every tune here so well.  They even manage to cross over to that most impregnable rock demographic, Mrs 1537.  It burns me sometimes that despite every right thinking dude and dudette who hears them likes them, Fu Manchu have never quite got the real recognition they deserved.  Rest assured when I am rich and famous Fu Manchu will be the headlining act at the inaugural 1537-Fest.

Fu Manchu King Road 09

I own a lot of Fu Manchu LPs and so I won’t flog it all to death here, I know some people out there prefer the older stuff like In Search Of… but King of the Road is my flavour perfectly.  Don’t get me started on how great they are live, or what genuinely nice guys they are too – I’ll save that for later.

So in summary, don’t just take my entirely objective unbiased opinion for it, it has been scientifically proven^^ that if you don’t like this LP you have no soul, which means you can’t be my friend and that you probably are condemned to an eternity of being poked with pointy sticks by uncool demons listening to a never-ending loop of Backstreet Boys songs.  Take heed, mortals and don’t say I never warned you.

Fu Manchu King Road 06

The universal eyes tell me where to go
White line movin’ slow
Million miles an hour headfirst and alone

King of the road says you move too slow!

Alternative cover
Alternative cover – featuring me (left).

60 Down – Redux: The Director’s Cut Ultimate Version 2.0.


* Not too sure what a ‘Yowza!’ is, Axl Rose used to mention them at the end of songs and so did several other lesser, much lesser, glam rockers.  Is it a small burrowing mammal, native to North America I wonder? or maybe just Los Angelesean for ‘Goodness me, that was really rather super’ ?

** Who are all these idiots writing about music?  who cares what some idiot loser who has never been in a cool band or played a note, of, music, in, his, life, thinks, about, some, band …. oh, ummm.

*^Fu Manchu were always a great cover band, their semi-official 2014 Covers LP is an excellent listen.

^^Top flight Groovologists at MIT. Honest.

49 thoughts on “Flat Out Against The Freaks

  1. While I was checking them out I ended up listening to the whole Rockpalast thing. These guy are GOOD! I see (hear) what you’re raving about. This is the kind if hard music CB likes. Great new discovery for me and good Canadian guys to boot. Rage, Primus … similarities but definitely their own band. The cool thing is they dress like me. I missed this the first time around. Thanks 1537, you the man! (And Mr Ladano)

  2. Just checked some of this out. Yeah I could go for that. No bullshit just strap it on and play. I think you sold CB on a new band. Like the vibe. I like the music. Some more of those Canadian guys. Thanks for the bump! “Yowza” Gig Young said it through out ‘They Shoot Horses Don’t They’

      1. I really like them. This is one of the reasons i started tuning into stations like yours. I would never find this kind of music on mainstream (that word just gives me the squits) anything. Nice guys = Canadians.

  3. Never heard anything by them, but your enthusiasm about the album is really infectious. “…I have listened to so many times I’ve completely internalized it, I know every millisecond of it, when one song finishes my mind is already singing the riff to the next track.” I can totally relate to this idea as well, beautifully put. Will give the band a try.

  4. Do you need blood shot eyes to truly enjoy Fu Manchu? I’ve attempted to like them, but I just haven’t yet. Maybe I started with the wrong album. I’ll see if I can locate this one here. I do love a good conversion van with wolves howling at the moon painted on the side.

      1. Okay, I gave it a spin. I liked some of it. Nice riffage going on. I just don’t think I’m quite cool enough for this. Or maybe I just don’t have the stoner rock gene in me. That, and at times his vocals reminded me a bit of Ted Nugent. Just at a couple of moments. Enough to make me quiver a bit.

      2. Consider yourself banned from 1537 for 8 minutes for the heinous crime of holding a different opinion to me! 8 full minutes I say!

  5. BTW, I say yowza constantly. You might as well put my name next to that asterix. I use it more as an expression of surprise instead of “wow”. How Axl uses it? No idea.

  6. I’ll have to check out Fu Manchu on your recommendation! Beach Blanket Bong Out? Sounds groovy baby!
    Also, looks like you’ve been working out! Rawr! Sexay bodie!
    Does Mrs. 1537 know you’re sharing your six-pack with the WP bloggers?

    1. Do! You’ll love it, trust me I’m a doctor*!

      Thanks for the Rawr – its a common reaction, when faced with the raw animal loveliness that is me. Over the years Mrs 1537 has just had to resign herself to being an object of female jealousy.

      *in a sort of amateur, watches House occasionally, type way.

    1. Ha! I guess that is the essential problem with reviewing your own records rather than someone else’s, or ones sent to you by a record company.

      I’m pretty ruthless at getting rid of anything I buy that I don’t like too, unless the cover features gratuitous nudity, obviously.

      1. Interesting.
        Would you keep an album with, say, two tracks you quite liked (the Curate’s egg principal)?
        Or because you have most of that artists catalogue (the completist principal)?
        Or because others rate it very highly and you might come to like it (the ‘give it time’ principal)?
        You’ve covered the ‘neat cover’ principal (sort of). Any other criteria come into play?

      2. Egad, you’re a man of many principals Bruce!

        Curate’s egg and give it time principals work for me – the completist one, much less so. If something stinks and doesn’t have any sentimental value for me, it goes no matter how much I love the band – I have a couple of gaps in my Beastie Boys collection accordingly and ‘Blow Up Your Video’ by AC/DC can count itself very lucky it was the tour I first saw them (or any band, under my own steam) on.

        How about you?

      3. I’m afraid that my eternal space problems are a result of adhering to all the above (below) principals plus a few more arcane ones that I’m not willing to disclose in public. It also means that I do have (like most large collections) a very significant proportion of ‘OK’ albums. There’s no doubt I could cull 1,000 LPs/CDs and not suffer any appreciable loss of music choice or quality.

      4. Wow. All my CDs live in plastic storage boxes stuffed under tables and in the attic, unloved uncounted and un catalogued. I should remedy the latter two parts of that I suppose.

  7. Like I said over on Mike’s page, I used to own this. Thinking about it now, I cannot imagine what possessed me to sell it off. I do think sometimes I hit my head and don’t remember what I do in the aftermath. It’s the only explanation I can imagine…

    This band’s groove rules, and this record was the shit. Based on your excellent reportage here, its past time I should replace my copy.

  8. I love those LPs that are “internalized” – where you even know the exact length of the breaks between songs!
    And I like a good friendship test record – those consequences sound severe, I’ll hopefully report back with a positive review!

  9. For the record your Honor! I have never inhaled a Welsh-Canadian Joint!…….Hahahaha…
    Cool that you an Mikey knocked a Review out Nsync! Double Hahaha!
    My younger bro just loved these guys and today I will be seeing him so i will ask him about this! It will blow his mind when I name drop FuManchu!
    Great review….and music lesson as well!

    1. I like your younger bro – listen to the kids, they are our future!

      And, thank you very much. This really is the shit. Double review? all down to Mike.

  10. The only thing that would make that alt. cover better is if they had Danny Trejo be the shirtless dude instead of you. But if I ever find that alt. cover, I’ll send it to you for you to autograph!

    1. I know, the only band / lifestyle I’ve seen to match it recently was the Shrine video for ‘tripping Corpse’. Although I spoke to Dave W of White hills on Thursday who has met The Shrine and I asked him if they were actually like that in real life and he said no – damnit!

  11. 1. No, just saw it online. I think BF is on my Cd though, I’ll check when I’m home.
    2. eBay.
    3. No, there never has been either.

    Thanks a lot Mike, this was fun. I’d like to redo some other older ones of mine now.

    1. If Four Horsemen is one you’d like to redo, lemme know because I have yet to write any Four Horsemen reviews. Hell there’s an idea for me to a do a series right there! The Four Horsemen: From the EP to the End!

      1. That’d be a great series Mike, go for it! I want to do Metallica ‘Kill ’em All’ again and possibly ‘Eliminator’.

  12. I have a number of questions:
    1. Do you have that alt. cover with Breathing Fire on it? That is the bonus track I mentioned in my review, that I am missing.
    2. How did you get those abs?
    3. IS there a man cooler than Brant Bjork?

    WELL DONE and I love the artwork.

  13. Monster Magnet and now Fu Manchu … awesome. I haven’t listened to this one in a while and though not my favourite (possibly In Search Of … or California Crossing) I do enjoy it. Been listening to the Gigantoid a little bit the last few weeks and just starting to dig that one …

      1. I like that one loads. Been listening to Gigantoid again, too. Though the post man arrived not so long ago with my latest purchase, so Fu Manchu has been paused …

    1. Two of my all-time favourite bands. When I discovered Stoner rock it was a ‘Bing!!’ moment – its my brand and its all a bit tongue-in-cheek too which I like.

      I love all the Fu Manchus – I’m only missing Daredevil & No One Rides For Free on vinyl.

      Have you heard the California Crossing Demos LP? they’re even better in places.

      1. Stoner / desert rock is definitely the best that rock can get. That’s just fact. I was the same when I first stumble upon it. Since then every bit of music I fall in love with has has dust and fuzz over it.

        I have heard these demos, no – sounds like something I need to own.

      2. The demos LP came out in about 2012 and is an official bootleg type thing, their Covers LP came out at the same time. I found them on eBay from Australia, if I remember correctly.

        The tracks are a bit rawer and there’s an instrumental track on there, that didn’t make the LP.

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