In 1978, the deceased martial arts star Bruce Lee was arguably bigger than ever – while many had expected the king fu movie craze to die with him, his movies remained on regular theatrical circulation, and Lee was the continual cover star of magazines like Kung Fu Monthly. So the appearance that year of a ‘tribute’ single shouldn’t, perhaps, be much of a surprise.
The JKD Band (named after Lee’s martial arts technique of Jeet Kune Do) were – we can safely assume – a bunch of anonymous session men gathered together by a cynical producer to make this shameless cash-in on the Satril Records label. Both the upbeat disco fever of Dragon Power and the laid -back B-side of the 1980 re-release Mellow Terrain feature vocal soundbites of Lee’s dialogue (“you have offended my family… and you have offended the Shaolin temple”) and fighting sounds from Enter the Dragon sprinkled throughout. How this is qualifies as a tribute is a little muddy.
The only clues to who anyone is come in the credits for songwriter – with one John Lennox listed as the maestro behind the tracks on this record – and the producer (Henry Hadaway) and arranger (John Altman). Altman was a sax player who worked with the likes of Van Morrison and Neil Innes, while Henry Hadaway MBE is the man who brought us The Birdie Song, and has worked with everyone from Marvin Gaye and Connie Francis to Mike Winters and Jimmy Tarbuck in a long and fascinating career as a producer, promoter and label boss (Satril was one of his labels).
The JKD Band actually released a full album, also called Dragon Power. However, the Bruce Lee connection does not appear to have been expanded throughout the other tracks.
Surprisingly, Dragon Power managed to reach number 58 on the UK charts in July 1978.