Fu Funk: Funky Kung Fu

Fu, of course, is "Kung Fu," the generic term for "chopsocky" films featuring Kung Fu or any other martial art. Martial arts became a big trend in the early 1970s, just as "blaxploitation" movies (funky soundtracks) reached their nadir. Thus "black kung fu" movies and "fu funk," which is not limited to just Carl Douglas's perennial party-ender, "Kung Fu Fighting." The "Fu" trend in soul, funk, and disco began with the same movies that inspired Douglas. Bruce Lee, Rudy Ray Moore as Dolemite, and other action heroes drove the "fists of fury" craze. And musically those fists could be conga players' attacking the drum skins.

What is Fu all about, musically? The chief arrangers, such as Lalo Schifrin, usually thought of bursts of aggression (congas, horns) with a tinge of exoticism (bamboo, vibes) and 1970s funkiness (wah-wah guitar). Unfortunately, most of the soundtracks rely too heavily on dialogue and "action" sound effects. Albums with really creative "fu funk" cuts are very scarce. But there are several good tributes to Muhammad Ali, so let's add those, too.

Buying: Fu funk is a tough specialty in a crowded field; grab it if you can. Usually 45s are the best examples.

Kung Fu & Fu-Funk LPs

5Muhammad Ali & others: The Greatest; Crimson Dynasty IRDA-LPN-6020; 1976
Vic Caesar: Bare Knuckles ST
6Richard Chun: Karate for Beginners Vol. 1; Conversa-phone CVP-832 (spoken instruction; home study self-defense course; NY)
7Dennis Coffey & Luchi de Jesus: Black Belt Jones ST; Warner Bros. WS-7771; 1974
6Jim Helms: Kung Fu--Music & dialog from the Warner Bros. TV series; Warner Bros. BS-2726; 1973 (w/David Carradine)
6Joseph Koo: Fist of Fury ST; Max Entertainment/Tam YX-7001; 1972
6Joseph Koo: Way of the Dragon ST; Max Entertainment; 1972 (Tam YX-7011)
7[Horspiel von Peter Lach]: Kung Fu--Das Geheimnis des Kwai Chang Caine; Gema/Bunny BUN-28.600; 1975 (ST from the German version of the TV series!; includes poster)
Kirth Morrison: Tower of Death ST; Max Entertainment (Tam)
6Lalo Schifrin: Enter the Dragon ST; Warner Bros. (1-LP US version; boot/reissue as Chop 201)
6Lalo Schifrin: Enter the Dragon ST; Warner Bros. P-5526-7W; 1975 (2-LP Japanese version)

Partly Fu LPs

7Muhammad Ali & his Gang: The Adventures of Ali & his Gang Vs. Mr. Tooth Decay Vol. 1; Arther Morrison; 1976 (kid funk/fu funk; Muhammad Ali, Howard Cosell, Frank Sinatra, Richie Havens, Jayne Kennedy, Ossie Davis, Arther Morrison)
6Joe Bataan: Joe Bataan II; Mericana/Salsoul SA-8549; 1981 ("Ling Ching Tong"-maybe)
7Dennis Coffey: Instant Coffey; Buddah/Sussex SRA-8031; 1974 ("Enter the Dragon")
6Disco Kids; Dellwood DLD-56014 ("Kung Fu Dancing"; disco)
8Disko Band; Pickwick SPC-3514; 1975 ("Kung Fu Fighting" & "Dance the Kung Fu")
4Carl Douglas: Kung Fu Fighting & Other Great Love Songs; 20th Century T-464; 1974
7The Emperors: Karate; Philly Archives/Impact F-1001 (collection of 1966-67 recordings)
8Mike Jackson & the Soul Providers: The Revenge of Mister Mopoji; ST-5918 ("The Wisdom of Master Shen"; funk/James Brown imitation/fu funk; c.2000 fake ST)
7Curtis Mayfield: Sweet Exorcist; Buddah/Curtom CRS-8601; 1974 ("Kung Fu")
3Mystic Moods: Clear Light; Warner Bros. 0598; 1973 ("Kung Fu")
4Sandy Nelson: Boogaloo Beat; Imperial LP-12367 (has a "Karate Boogaloo" --Fu in name only-- also an "Alligator Boogaloo" cover)
4Laxmikant Pyarelal: Ram Balram ST; EMI/Odeon/India Gramophone PEASD-2035; 1980 (intro lifted from/like "Kung Fu Fighting")
7Klaus Wunderlich: Wunderlich Pops International--28 Top-Hits on Parade; Telefunken 6.22325; 1975 (Hammond/disco; "Kung Fu Fighting")
7Unknown: Travel on Screen; Minoruphone 48RP-8 1975 ("Enter the Dragon")
7Various: Senator Jones' Funky Funky New Orleans; Funky Delicacies DEL LP-0012; 1999 (Charles Brimmer, "Kung Fu Man Parts 1 & 2"; compilation, 1972-76)
8Various: Top Hits--Jilid 9; EMI/Regal SREG-9834; 1975 (fantastic Malaysian cover of "Kung Fu Fighting"--in Tagalog!)

Fu Funk/Fu Disco 45s

6Banzaii: Chinese Kung Fu/Chinese Kung Fu (Disco Version); Scepter SCE-12407; 1975 (disco)
7Tony Camillo's Bazuka: Dynomite Parts 1 & 2; A&M 1666; 1975 (disco/fu funk)
Dennis Coffey: Theme from Black Belt Jones
7The Dragoneers: Kung Fu/mono; Buddah BDA-385; 1973 (Tony Camillo)
8Jerryo: Karate-Boo-Ga-Loo/The Pearl; Bang/Shout 217 (Jerry Murray)
8Liberated Brother: Muhammad Ali/instrumental; RCA Victor PB-10187; 1975 (fu funk/funky Moog; Weldon J. Irvine, Jr.)
9The Lords of Percussion (Mort Garson): The Kung-Fu/Geisha Girl; Old Town OT-105; 1974
6Mody-Vation: Ghetto Kung Fu Parts 1 & 2; Phil-L.A. of Soul 370; 1974
8The Ninchuks: Bruce Lee's "Return of the Dragon"/mono; Bryan BP-1; 1974 (funky Moog too)
8Lalo Schifrin: Theme from Enter the Dragon/mono; Warner Bros. WB-7735; 1973 (promo version)
7The Tijuana Brats: Karate Chop/Yakety Brats; RCA Victor 47-9666
7Ultrafunk, featuring Mr. Superbad--Freddie Mack: Kung Fu Man/instrumental; Contempo 7701; 1974 (disco, strings, hip words)
7Lester Young: Barefootin' in Chinatown/?; Barry 1009; 1966 (reissued on compilation LPs by Ace/Kent)
6Uncredited: Theme from Black Belt [Jones]/Lady, Lady, Lady; Hoctor H-2948

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