Go for It ... Live! (SPV)

Fu Manchu 

Go for It ... Live! (SPV)

Recorded during last year's California Crossing trek, Fu Manchu's latest effort showcases the California stoner-metal quartet's love for all things 1973. Surprisingly, the laid-back outfit storms out of the gate kicking ass and taking names with "Hell on Wheels," which sounds eerily reminiscent of Black Flag circa 1985 -- except Fu Manchu actually tunes its guitars. It then downshifts back to familiar Fu territory with "Laserblast," which is driven by a monotonous riff and a clomping cowbell. This is a group that prefers cruising to drag-strip racing; even in concert, the tempos rarely get out of second gear.

When the Fu Tang Clan kicks out the jams ("Squash That Fly," "Downtown in Dogtown"), it's a force with which to reckon, but those moments are exceptions in this knuckle-dragging set list. As with the Donnas, it's hard to tell whether the group's overly reverent sense of nostalgia is serious or cleverly ironic. After all, no band in its right mind would actually trawl through a half-speed cover of Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla" with a straight face. Or would it?

Taking the act one step further, Fu flirts with psychedelia on the epic closer "Saturn III," almost nine minutes of music that's so absurdly over-the-top that it's ultimately amusing. Live albums are sketchy propositions; live double albums are downright excessive. But excess and Fu Manchu fit together like sideburns and a handlebar mustache, so it's only appropriate that the band get this '70s staple under its collective belt (fastened with a king-size Keep on Trucking buckle, no doubt). For the Fu faithful, nothing could be finer than 100 minutes of Neanderthal boogin', but those who prefer innovation over imitation would be wise to look elsewhere.

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