The band wrote in a Facebook message: “In tribute to the Professor, Neil Peart, we are releasing our version of Rush’s ‘Working Man’ that we recorded January 2020. All proceeds will benefit Brain Tumor Research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in his memory.”
Even though Peart didn’t perform on the studio version of “Working Man” – original drummer John Rutsey played on Rush’s 1974 self-titled debut album – Fu Manchu chose to cover the song because “members of our band and our manager were in the audience on Aug. 1, 2015, when this was the final song played by Neil, Geddy [Lee] and Alex [Lifeson]. We are forever grateful for all of the music and memories.”
You can listen to Fu Manchu’s cover of “Working Man” below.
Back in 2018, Fu Manchu enlisted Lifeson to play guitar on “Il Mostro Atomico,” an 18-minute track from their Clone of the Universe album. The connection came via their respective managers, who are friends. As frontman Scott Hill recalled, “Without asking us, our manager was like, ‘Hey, would Alex want to play on their new record?’ His manager asked him and got back to our manager, like, ‘Oh, yeah, he totally will. Send him a song!’ When he told us, we were all like, ‘Holy shit!’ We immediately reverted back to the Rush fans we were in seventh grade!”
The band sent a demo of “Il Mostro Atomico” to Lifeson with instructions: “Dude, do whatever you want, wherever you want!” The guitarist responded with several ideas, and they chose what Hill called a “really effected guitar riff” and “stuff with a bunch of different effects, all these sci-fi sounds and pick slides. … He really added to it. That riff that he played, that wasn’t even in the song! I remember leaving the studio that night after we first got it back from him, and we were all like, ‘Fuck, this is insane!’”
In 2011, Fu Manchu released The Covers, a collection of songs originally recorded by Van Halen, the Cars, Blue Oyster Cult and others. This past April, they put out their version of the Doobie Brothers‘ “Takin’ It to the Streets.”
“Sounds like they are having fun with the arrangement,” Doobies guitarist Patrick Simmons said at the time. “I always thought it was a sort of an angry indictment of the establishment in many ways when I first heard the song. This arrangement sounds plenty angry! Thanks, guys!”