REVIEWS & COMMENTARY
After a nearly fatal car crash on Los Angeles' Dead Man's Curve (earlier immortalized by a Jan & Dean hit), Jan Berry composed and arranged a batch of songs that incorporated the psychedelic strains of the day. Recorded by the legendary Wrecking Crew and session vocalists such as Glen Campbell, Berry's pocket Smile sadly never saw release. But on tracks like "Fan Tan" — with its bizarre, deceptive key changes — Berry's unique, if damaged, talents emerge.
Spin Magazine — June 2010
An essential archival release — if not as well-known as Brian Wilson's Smile, Carnival of Sound is just as tantalizing a "lost" artifact of the psychedelic '60s, buried these 40-plus years . . . beautifully accomplished, with superb playing and excellent singing; and the production is, at times, stunning, and also far more self-consciously ambitious than prior Jan & Dean releases — Jan & Dean had always managed to quietly impress listeners by slipping these beautifully produced jewels past them as pop music, but on Carnival of Sound, they were very obviously calling more attention to the layers of sound swirling and shifting below the surface . . . And there are liner notes that put to shame almost any archival pop/rock release seen to date, in both their detail and underlying sense of wonder about the music.
All Music Guide
Rhino Handmade has released this much pondered, ambitious and ill-fated 1967 Jan & Dean project. Actually, Dean doesn’t sing [much] on the album. It's a Jan Berry dream project. One song features his guide vocals. Other than that, we're hearing studio artists and pals, as Jan oversees in the booth. Though he was battling the horrible physical effects of his "Dead Man's Curve" car crash, Jan's wizardry as a songwriter and producer remains intact. The stereo versions are especially expansive and captivating. Some bits were written or recorded pre-accident, but the bulk of the creation took place while Jan was struggling to get his injured brain functioning more fluidly. It's amazing how much of his musical genius still shines through. Thank heaven, the project has been pieced together in this new form. Carnival of Sound has naturally been compared to the long lost Smile album from another surf music genius, Brian Wilson. Carnival plays as more of a grand experiment than a fully realized masterpiece. But it's fascinating throughout. Dean Torrence's gorgeously '60s-style album cover adds to the appeal. Fans will also appreciate the 16-page booklet. Cheers to Rhino for rescuing this important psych pop work from the dusty shelves. It's available as a single CD or packaged with a vinyl album, in a hardbound gatefold jacket.
Pop Culture Classics
Lost treasure triumphantly unearthed . . . there’s a formidable sophistication to the grandiose [Girl, You're Blowin' My Mind] and the epic LA poetry of Mulholland. Though it remained unreleased after its completion in 1969 . . . Rhino Handmade have truly gone to town on its first official unveiling.
Record Collector Magazine
Jan Berry’s Carnival Of Sound — a collection of music he finished in 1968 (after his near-fatal automobile accident on April 12, 1966) — is astonishing . . . Strong production, great mixes, and, in some cases, the J&D-style banter we’re accustomed to hearing . . . This album will close a previously mythic chapter and invigorate Jan Berry’s musical legacy. If you’re not a Jan & Dean fan, don’t be fooled. This is psychedelic pop at its best. To top it all off, Dean Torrence designed the front and back covers.
Gold Mine Magazine and Endless Summer Quarterly
Jan was, by most accounts, the sonic auteur of the duo, and he struggled through the physical and mental devastation brought about by the accident to finish these tracks, which were largely unreleased. Shame, especially since the post-accident songs are pretty striking psychedelic harmony pop, with the Wrecking Crew produced into a thick slab of sound set off by sitars, soprano snake-charmer saxes, and clever compositions with intricate melodies and some surprising modulations . . . the potential for greatness had Jan been able to continue is too formidable not to take note of. Great package, with fantastic notes and photos, not to mention the track selection, which consists of mono mixes of the tracks, new stereo mixes (designed to illuminate the complexity of the productions), some demos, and backing tracks.
Jan refused to give up on the LP, returning to the studio months after the crash with a batch of songs that would reflect a deeper, more experimental nature reflecting the teen idol's post-accident mindset. Though still undeniably catchy and pure in its pop form, the music captured at these sessions, which incorporated such elements as sitar accents, backwards guitar playing, found sound effects and Wall of Sound style orchestration, reflected the psychedelic vibes of the burgeoning Sunset Strip scene . . . You can really hear Jan Berry's absolute mastery as a producer on par with the likes of Phil Spector and David Axelrod – along with his capable utilization of such legendary Hollywood studio spaces as Gold Star Studios and Western Recorders and the world famous elite session musicians known as The Wrecking Crew.
Jam Base — Vintage Stash Pick of the Week, March 19-25, 2010