On this date 20 years ago, the stoner/desert power rock band from Southern California; Fu Manchu released one of the heaviest driving albums of all time: King of the Road. This album has gone on to be a staple in vintage loving, boogie van driving, V8 loving, road warriors. Even today, the impact can be felt by many who long seek the old days of living in a shag-rug van and traveling in style.
King of the Road follows the same repertoire that many other bands from the ’70s followed. Much like “Highway Star” by Deep Purple, all of Fu Manchu’s music incorporates some fast driven riff mixed with lyrics about super vans, skateboarding, and muscle cars. It presents the perfect epitome for the garage loving, car driving skate freaks. The album is a throwback to a time that we wish we could have. Larger freedoms and more money meant cooler vans.
Well to start off “Boogie Van” is about what you’d expect. A 70’s Ford Supervan modded out with all Fixin’s. From the shag rug to the ceiling windows, to the waterbed and V8 engine, this song knows what its target audience is and it’s probably you too. Unlike the 60’s style of music where everything was soft and psychedelic, the Boogie Van was a harsher younger brother. Where Joe Cocker and Jefferson Airplane would play out of the sound system of a VW Bus owner, you’d more likely hear the harsh and abrasive riffage of guitar greats like Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin or even the heavy, fuzzy moods of Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath.
Every song on the album portrays some essence of fast rocking, fast driving super van culture. Each riff pumped out the force of a big block V8 chugging through gas like its nothing. Burning rubber and smoke-outs galore as this album pushes the sound barrier through an 11-track power rush through time.
Like the movie “Dazed and Confused” Fu Manchu is a 90’s band that took on the role of revitalizing 70’s culture. They aren’t so much as a remembrance of the ’70s as they are the 90’s interpretation of what the ’70s were like. The riffs are updated, and the guitars are wailing. From here, they set the bar for all those looking to rock out with their turbo-charged super vans.