This extraordinary 1968 single never received a proper release, at least in Jamaica, although in the UK the Pyramid label ensconced it on the b-side of Desmond Dekker's cover of "To Sir with Love", which itself became a major club hit.
Regardless, "Fu Manchu" is amazing on multiple levels, not least for Dekker's superb performance, which unusually finds him soaring into falsetto, alongside the always sublime Aces harmonies. Of equal note is the song's conscious lyrics, which derides those who boast about their jobs and high paid salaries, with Dekker chiding, "it's not what you earn that make you a man, but what you keep that make you a man."
The Beverley's All Stars' backing is as singular as the vocals and theme, and just as magnificent. A superb slab of driving reggae, with its R&B roots proudly showing, the riddim positively surges across the grooves. The musicians, as always, are flawless, but organist Winston Wright takes them to a whole new level, and into psychedelic pastures rarely grazed by reggae bands. Only a handful of Jamaican singles ever ventured into acid-drenched territory, but Wright swaggers right in with absolute aplomb.
Producer Leslie Kong would never delve any deeper into this unchartered land, making "Fu Manchu" all the more precious. A stunner of a single, that deserves much greater acclaim.