Various Artists

Kung Fu! Reggae Vs The Martial Arts

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The Caribbean meets the Far East on Kung Fu! Reggae vs. the Martial Arts, certainly one of the more unlikely and entertaining Trojan label compilations to date. Just how the classic kung fu films of Bruce Lee, Sonny Chiba, and others came to so deeply influence the reggae music of Jamaica is something of a mystery -- was Carl Douglas' "Kung Fu Fighting" really that inspirational? -- and Lee Perry's classic Kung Fu Meets the Dragon aside, it seems doubtful that even the most omniscient of reggae historians and trivia buffs could have imagined the vaults might hold enough martial arts-inspired tracks to flesh out an entire compilation LP. Yet here it is, a 24-song collection that by and large transcends novelty status to deliver deep, muscular reggae: much of the music here attempts to channel the spirit of kung fu via piledriving dub mixes, complete with rhythms that kick like a mule. Highlights include the Upsetters' "Enter the Dragon," Keith Hudson's "Black Belt Jones," Tommy McCook's "Iron Claw," and Barrington Levy's "Shaolin Temple."

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