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The Soul of the Kung Fu Fighter

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Album Review

The tragedy of Carl Douglas' career is that he was actually a good singer, capable of being more than a novelty act. Nobody really cares, though, because he was the guy who sang "Kung Fu Fighting," a delightfully silly artifact of the '70s, combining disco and kung fu films in an absurdly catchy, unforgettable way. Saddled with such an indelible novelty hit, Douglas' skills faded into the background, particularly since he recorded his fair share of songs that were either kitschy — the talk-box heavy "Too Hot to Handle" — or were direct rip-offs of "Kung Fu Fighting": "Dance the Kung Fu," "Green Tangerine and Wild Evergreens" — the last of which has the exact same melody as the hit song. These and much, much more (including a contemporary remix of the hit, which was a British hit itself and the reason why this Castle collection was assembled for U.K. release) are included on the 22-track The Soul of the Kung Fu Fighter, which is likely more than anybody really needs from Carl Douglas; though it is easily the most comprehensive and best collection assembled of the artist yet. Due to its range, it does illustrate that Douglas could have done more than novelties, given the right material and right producer — not much more, perhaps, but he was a good journeyman vocalist and when he's given solid genre material like "When You Got Love," the results are indeed pleasant. There aren't that many great songs here, however, so this hardly counts as a testament to a great forgotten talent. Nevertheless, Douglas was not without talent, and his pleasant voice makes these period disco, pop-soul, and dance productions enjoyable, even if they never transcend their generic origins and are often bogged down by their own novelty.


Born: May 10, 1942 in Jamaica

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '70s

The one-hit wonder behind the disco novelty smash "Kung Fu Fighting," Carl Douglas was also the first Jamaican-born artist to score a number one single in the United States. Douglas was raised in both California and Jamaica, and eventually moved to England to study sound engineering. In 1964, he formed a group called the Big Stampede, which released a couple of U.K. singles; two years later, he formed the Explosions while living in Spain. Upon returning to England, Douglas teamed up with a band called...
Full Bio
The Soul of the Kung Fu Fighter, Carl Douglas
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  • $5.99
  • Genres: R&B/Soul, Music, Disco
  • Released: May 11, 1999

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