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)
- Kung Fu Fighting
- Witchfinder General
- When You Got Love
- Changing Times
- I Want to Give You My Everything
- Dance the Kung-Fu
- Never Had This Dream Before
- I Don’t Care What People Say
- Blue Eyed Soul (Instrumental)
- Ain’t No Use
- Somebody Stop This Madness
- Crazy Feeling
- Keep It to Myself
- Gamblin’ Man
- Kung Fu Fighting (Grasshopper Mix)
- 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