‘No One Rides For Free’ was Fu Manchu’s debut album back in 1994. With it the Californians pretty much laid claim to the stoner-rock throne. Now it is being reissued – along with 1995’s ‘Daredevil’. But the world has moved a long way since 1994. These are both great rock albums but you have to question the logic of re-releasing guitar driven, drum heavy, hard rock about hot-rods and girls in 2004.

If you have ever had any enthusiasm for rock then tracks like ‘Ojo Rojo’ (from ‘No One Rides...’) and ‘Trapeze Freak’ (from ‘Daredevil’) will probably bring a grin to your face. There are other great tunes here like ‘Free and Easy (Summer Girls)’ – all riff heavy stoner rock.

The similarity of the subject material (as far as I can work out at least four of the eight tracks on ‘No One Rides...’ are about custom cars) and the similar pace of the songs,however, make a lot of this seem rather similar.

‘Daredevil’ is slightly more varied and probably the more accessible album. The heavy riffs and tight bass and drums are still present. The songs may be loud and angry but they never get out of control and there are some very sharp performances here.

I still don’t understand the logic behind this reissue though. It’s not that these are bad albums, far from it. Both of these albums are minor heavy rock classics. There is enough proper guitar action here to keep the Darkness cowering under their rocks for quite a while. Maybe that’s reason enough for a re-release.

If you fancy some old fashioned driving rock you could do a lot worse than buy ‘Daredevil’. While both albums sound great they also come across as rather dated. These are classic Fu Manchu albums. But this isn’t 1994 anymore and stoner rock just does not seem as vital as it once did.

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