Fu Manchu

Go for It...Live!

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After 13 years of lighting up audiences with a cryptic mix of good-time '70s rock and heavy surfer punk, California sons Fu Manchu finally delivered a coveted live album, Go for It...Live! (named after the obscure 1979 skateboard/adventure flick). These purveyors of delightful pop culture trash recorded the tasty 22-song, two-disc set during the 2002 California Crossing tour. The lineup of Scott Hill (vocals/guitar), Brad Davis (bass), Bob Balch (guitar), and Scott Reeder (drums) has produced the ultimate soundtrack for skating pools, catching waves, and hanging out in cherry cars. The album also marks the debut of Reeder, who replaced the nomadic Brant Bjork just before the CC tour began. Bjork's Neanderthal drumming was quite a spectacle, but at times he could overpower the band, and Reeder is more intricate and doesn't run out of bounds. Disc one is punctuated by searing renditions of "Hell on Wheels," "Mongoose," "Anodizer," and the signature epic "King of the Road," but it's songs from early albums that shine like a sparkly GTO paint job. "Tilt" is a slippery pinball ride over funky cowbell breaks, "Asphalt Risin" rumbles through shifting gears of fuzz, and "Strato-Streak" vaunts some juicy bass work under a crush of tonal guitars. Perhaps not the most gifted vocalist (and he doesn't pretend to be), Hill's all-knowing SoCal drawl nevertheless cultures each song nicely. Disc two features a stellar version of "Regal Begal" in which a juicy bass break bounces between thundering riffs, and the scorching album closer, "Saturn III," is euphoric space boogie not heard since Lemmy hung with Hawkwind. Also highlighting the second disc are universal crowd favorites "Godzilla," "Over the Edge," "Evil Eye," and the slithery "Weird Beard." All the songs are spliced seamlessly, the production is very crisp, and the CD booklet is loaded with band photos and rare concert posters -- so who could complain, right? The only bummer is a somewhat disjointed flow trying to pack an entire career's worth of songs into just one release. Usually the best live albums capture a specific time period (think of live classics by Cheap Trick, Motörhead, or Iron Maiden), and as a result, longtime fans may want to rearrange track orders while lamenting omissions like "Pigeon Toe," "Trapeze Freak," "Blue Tile Fever," "Urethane," "Eatin' Dust," and "Separate Kingdome." But bitching about too much is like complaining it's too sunny at the beach, or that summer vacation lasts too long. Go for It...Live! is an absolute must for those enamored by Fu Manchu's buzzy sound, and a great introduction for those curious about a band woefully ignored by radio stations and video channels.

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