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Reissue Theory: Carl Douglas, “Kung Fu Fighter”

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Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we reflect on well-known albums of the past and the reissues they could someday see. This installment concerns a hard-hitting novelty single that’s still kicking after more than a quarter-century.

Twenty-six years ago today, the top song in the United Kingdom was one of the most hilariously stereotypical songs of the 1970s, a funky little number called “Kung Fu Fighting.” Rarely has anyone mimed some clumsy karate moves without thinking of that scratchy guitar, that nine-note “Oriental Riff” and the singer who exalted those kicks (as fast as lightning).

Wait…who was that singer? Of course, trivia buffs remember it’s Carl Douglas, a Jamaican-born session singer who allegedly recorded “Kung Fu Fighting,” his one and only hit, as a last-minute B-side. Thanks to the support of an A&R team at England’s Pye Records and a burgeoning genre of martial arts movies (Bruce Lee had passed away the year before, and his first posthumous release Enter the Dragon was a well-received hit), “Kung Fu Fighting” was a smash. By the time the resultant LP, Kung Fu Fighter, was released, there was already a follow-up single, “Dance the Kung-Fu.” Douglas would record other LPs, but they never matched the success of his hard-chopping hit.

“Kung Fu Fighting” may be a staple of disco compilations, but none of his albums have ever been properly released on CD. That sounds like a job for a label group like Cherry Red (who released a best-of comp for Douglas’ producer, Biddu) which could nicely license that first LP alongside a few notable non-LP sides that were released around the same time. Hit the jump to see how such a title might play out.

Carl Douglas, Kung Fu Fighter (Pye, 1974) – released in the U.S. as Kung Fu Fighting and Other Love Songs (20th Century Records, 1974)

  1. Kung Fu Fighting
  2. Witchfinder General
  3. When You Got Love
  4. Changing Times
  5. I Want to Give You My Everything
  6. Dance the Kung-Fu
  7. Never Had This Dream Before
  8. I Don’t Care What People Say
  9. Blue Eyed Soul (Instrumental)
  10. Ain’t No Use
  11. Somebody Stop This Madness
  12. Crazy Feeling
  13. Keep It to Myself
  14. Gamblin’ Man
  15. Kung Fu Fighting (Grasshopper Mix)
  16. Kung Fu Fighting (1989 Remix)

Tracks 1-9 released as original LP – Pye (U.K.) NSPL 18450/20th Century Records T-464, 1974
Tracks 10-11 from Ariola single (DE) 13 688 AT, 1972
Tracks 12-13 from Young Blood International single (DE) DL 25 581, 1973
Track 14 was the B-side to “Kung Fu Fighting” – Pye (U.K.) 7N 45377/20th Century (U.S.) TC-2140, 1974
Track 15 from PRT 12″ single 12P 359, 1986
Track 16 from Pye 12″ single PYT 23, 1989

Written by Mike Duquette

September 21, 2010 at 15:21

Posted in Carl Douglas, Features, Reissues

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One Response

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  1. Hi Mike,
    Beyond the “Kung Fu Fighting” single, what was Car’s music like? Was he Soul or was he Disco? If this album was ever issued on CD, then I’d have to take this into consideration for a potential purchase. I’ve got to say though that I have always had a soft spot for the “Kung Fu Fighting” single.


    September 21, 2010 at 16:51

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