LA Carnival

If you’ve never heard of the LA Carnival you’re not alone. The group only ever released one single in their existence. But thanks to the efforts of Stones Throw’s funk subsidiary Now-Again, the recordings of this group have been thankfully unearthed and re-mastered, and immediately place the group as a notable missing link in Midwest funk lore. The LA Carnival were actually from Omaha, Nebraska not California and were named after their autocratic and prodigiously talented drummer and chief songwriter Lester Abrams. The songs presented here, recorded between 1969 and 1971 are anchored by the ridiculously tight rhythm section that propels the undeniable psychedelic funk of "Flyin’” and the lovelorn organ-driven ode "Blind Man.” Yet while they could hold down Sly and the Family Stone-style funk, under Abrams’s guidance, the group could veer off into unorthodox jazzy breaks and bridges at the drop of the dime as on the 7/4 time signature of "7 Steps To Nowhere.” Abrams’s’ songs are lyrical snapshots of the times, exhibiting a deep yearning for social and civil rights as the three-part harmony of "Color,” underscored by the band’s multiracial makeup and the sombre "The Klan” would suggest. Abrams’s own biracial identity, his upbringing in the Midwest and the band history is explored and illuminated in Egon’s exhaustive liner notes, yet Dante Carfegna’s ruminations on the crate digger’s endless odyssey reminds us we won’t hear all the good music we want to. The discovery of the LA Carnival from relative obscurity will make you appreciate this sentiment even more.