Kung Fu Super Sounds is sub-titled "Unreleased Soundtracks From The De Wolfe Music Library As Featured In The Shaw Brothers Martial Arts Movies 1976-84", which tells you what this is about altogether more succinctly than I ever could. And from the opening Dirty Ho Theme (which starts like the Pearl & Dean advert that graced UK cinemas for seemingly ever before coming on like some old cop movie) to the Western sounding Dodge City 1 from the Return To The 36th Chamber movie, this is a really enjoyable collection.
As there are 43 tracks here, I hope I'll be excused from providing a track by track analysis, so I'll just highlight a few favourites. Horror House (from The Four Assassins), Waiting For The Man (from Shaolin Mantis) and the rousing Manoeuvres (from The Bastard Swordsman) are big dramatic numbers. In contrast, the busy arrangements of Industrial Complex would make it an ideal theme tune for a news programme. Perhaps best of all though are the rhythmic, almost hypnotic Two Minutes Precisely (Ten Tigers Of Kuang Tung) and the Shaolin Handlock theme called Perception In Rhythm which has a more jazzy feel and sounds like something that might have been used in that ace old John Cassavetes series Johnny Staccato. Fabulous stuff!
Not being much of a Kung Fu fan, I don't think I've ever seen any of these movies, but it's fun to try and picture what might be going on as these pieces play. The Avenging Eagles theme surely anticipates some tense moment where someone is defiantly heading towards their doom, whereas Moonbird (from Heaven & Hell) should be the soundtrack to some beauty running along the beach to her loved one prefacing one of those dreamy soft focus love sequences. As Face To Face's strident feel interweaves with a more sensual section, I reckon the guy is walking with a sense of purpose to wherever he's going, whilst the love of his life is dancing in some seedy club for the enjoyment of a gaggle of dirty old men. Actually I think that's where he's going. He's gonna sort this out!
It's not all big orchestral numbers mind. Dr Witch-Wot with its funny noises over a relentless beat is slightly crackers and wouldn't sound too out of place on a 23 Skidoo album, whilst the rather bizarre Dogarnit is the sound of dogs barking what sounds like the Sunshine Of Your Love riff! Electro Beat (from The Master), meanwhile, is the sound of Pacman gone mad and is strangely enjoyable, whereas Electro Beat 5 (from The Kung Fu Instructor) is the sound of Pacman gone mad and is sure to drive you nuts.
My only complaint otherwise is that some numbers just aren't long enough as there are ten or eleven tracks that clock in under a minute. I could certainly listen to the almost Shaft-like Tension Trip (from Dirty Ho) much, much longer than 51 seconds! As for the big and bold Red Sequence – 37 seconds? Nooo!!
If anyone out there likes to sit down and listen to, say, The Avengers theme tune for an evening's pleasure – and personally I see nothing wrong with that - then you might want to get your hands on this. Whether you want to stand in front of a mirror whilst trying out your new martial arts moves is, of course, a personal decision.