A remarkably hard to find album throughout the years, The Carnival's one album released in 1969 has only ever been available on cd in Japan up until Rev-ola saw fit to reissue it this year. Rev-ola also is able to beef up the sound quality by using the original master tapes and also unearthed some bonus tracks to supplement this lost pop classic. The Carnival fit half way between the Sergio Mendes / The Fifth Dimension sound (thanks to original Brasil '66 members Jose Suares and Janis Hansen working with the in producer of the day Bones Howe, who had worked magic with the likes of The Association and The Fifth Dimension) and the late 60s bubblepop girl group sound of The Four King Cousins, The Goodees, and The Rock Flowers. The Carnival is where Burt Bacharach meets the sounds of Brazil.
Things get going right away with The Carnival original Canto De Carnival, a percussion workout which should have rhythm samplers drooling. Released also as a 45 back in the day coupled with the 2nd track on this disc, Canto De Carnival mixes perfectly into The Carnival's version of Laia Ladaia.
Roger Nichols' fans will have to pick up this disc for The Carnival's rendition of Roger Nichols & the Small Circle of Friends rollicking tune Love So Fine, which was also covered at the time by the ultra obscure / ultra sweet Four King Cousins. It doesn't get better than the swinging swagger love found in Roger Nichols' Love So Fine, and The Carnival version is a wonderful display.
There are those who collect Beatles' covers, and for those fine folk I highly recommend The Carnival's rendition of the hip bubblepop that is The Beatles' The Word. The song that gave such singers and acts like Jackie and Roy or Helen Merrill that hipness they so deserved in the changing times of the 1960s, The Carnival do some of their own magic on The Word. It's so fine!
Hope is a little known tune written by Louis and Monique Aldebert who also wrote Ev'rybody Loves Jobim recorded by Blossom Dearie on her Tweedledum and Tweedledee album, and Les Hommes Endormis recorded by Brigitte Bardot and featured on Café de Flore: Rendez-Vous a Saint Germain des Pres. Hope ends up being one of the lost gems that makes The Carnival's album worth seeking out and leads us in the direction followed up by Liz Damon's Orient Express.
Son Of A Preacherman (best known by Dusty Springfield, but also covered by another Rev-ola act Canterbury Music Festival on their Rain & Shine cd reissue) is given a girl group spin with both the album and the mono single version included for good measure.
I'd never been a big fan of the ultra sweet Sweets For My Sweet made famous by The Searchers (even though once I'd heard it, it would be stuck in my head), but I must say The Carnival's version definitely has won me over thanks to the sweet electric keyboards and even sweeter female lead vocal and lounge energy.
Delving into the softer side, The Carnival actually come out on the plus side as well. Covering A Famous Myth (One Bright Night) which was featured recorded by The Groop from the motion picture Midnight Cowboy and written by Jeffrey Comanor ( http://www.drjeffbooks.com/ ) was a great idea as they explore pop musings from the day and harpsichords back the pensive Rock Flowers like lead vocal.
Many acts have covered Trade Martin's Take Me For A Little While including Vanilla Fudge, Cher, The Koobas, Dusty Springfield and Evie Sands, but I have to say The Carnival's version is rather nice.
Like many of the acts in the late 1960s, The Carnival try their hand at a handful of Bacharach/David songs including Walk On By, Reach Out For Me, and the bonus track Where There's A Heartache (There Must Be A Heart) - all with a great sound half way between Liz Damon's Orient Express and Triste Janero.
We're also treated to another Carnival original in the bonus track Truth About It which is another sweet tune pointing the way towards the loungeness of Triste Janero.
The only time The Carnival ever really lets me down is on the overpowering and busy but uninventive take on Turn, Turn, Turn which was previously made famous by The Byrds.
Rev-Ola has definitely done wonders on this cd reissue of lost music by The Carnival. Not only do you get the album in wonderful sound quality, you also get 3 bonus tracks and a great poster with lengthy liner notes so you can learn all there is known about the band (a far step or two past the Japanese cd which has notes written in Japanese). The Carnival is a good time!