Various Artists

Carnival Northern Soul

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The small New Jersey label Carnival had very little chart action, but recorded and released quite a few soul singles in the mid- to late '60s. The U.K. Kent label released three CDs of material from the company's vaults prior to the appearance of this compilation, which is specifically oriented toward tracks that appeal to the Northern soul crowd that likes '60s dance-oriented soul. The 26 tracks highlight singles issued between 1964 and 1974 (though just a couple tracks postdate 1970), mostly by artists unknown beyond soul collector circles, with the exception of the Manhattans (represented by "There Goes a Fool" and "All I Need Is Your Love," from 1964 and 1967 respectively). Not much of a label or regional identity comes through, and it's not a particularly distinguished batch even when judged by Northern soul standards, but it's a decent enough sampler of period soul, usually upbeat and often geared toward group harmonies. It's a bit more lightweight pop-soul in flavor than the usual comp, with the odd track that might strike listeners as above average according to their individual tastes. The Pretenders' (not the group led by Chrissie Hynde, of course) "I Wanna Be (Your Everything)" stands out with its sassy male-female vocal interplay; Lee Williams & the Cymbals, one of the few Carnival acts to chart (if very mildly), put a bit of Philly into "It's Everything About You (That I Love)"; and the Manhattans' "There Goes a Fool," one of the earliest recordings here, has an early Motown feel that was slightly retro even then. Motown is an unsurprising big influence on a lot of the songs, actually, but these aren't as blatant derivations as you'll find on some other similar anthologies.