Los Angeles-based soul and jazz guitar man U-NAM (Emmanuel Abiteboul) is a busy old bee! He juggles all kinds of projects – one of which is his THE CALIFORNIA FUNK MACHINE – a soul/funk collective that features an ever-evolving raft of top musicians. The outfit have two albums to their name – imaginatively titled ‘California Funk Machine Volume 1’ and ‘California Funk Machine Volume 2’ and now, just in time for the Christmas party season, U-Nam and the gang are unleashing a third album – and guess what? Yep, it’s ‘California Funk Machine Volume 3’
Like their first two volumes this third iteration is a collection of soul and funk covers – some more well known than others. Amongst the better known outings are versions of Kool and the Gang’s ‘Celebration’ (powerful vocal from Tony Tatum here), George Benson’s ‘Turn Your Love Around’ and Kenny Thomas/the Gap Band’s ‘Outstanding’. You can enjoy two versions of that one, by the way; the original and a “guitar version” on which, U-Nam, the ring master, shows off his licks.
Amongst the lesser known items are Chic’s ‘City Lights’ and the Manhattan Transfer’s ‘Spice Of Life’… what a great tune that one is – just perfect for this ensemble. But maybe the biggest “cuckoo” in this volume’s nest is a song called ‘Its Good To Be The King’. Dedicated music anoraks might know that the song originated back in 1981 and was inspired by the Mel Brooks’ spoof movie, ‘History of the World’ . ‘It’s Good To Be The King’ is essentially a rap – my preview copy doesn’t reveal the name of the rapper here but he does a great old school job on a track that was originally written by Pete Wingfield in the manner of the Sugarhill Gang et al. Its inclusion adds an element of surprise to what is a collection of eleven joyous party anthems. It’s released December 8th via Skytown Records.