[Review] The Cars: Candy-O (1979)

[Kronomyth 2.0]
This year’s model.

The standard line on Candy-O is to point out that it’s not as good as their debut, a critique that would also apply to sunshine, butterflies and red jellybeans. A more helpful description would be to state that Candy-O is their first studio album, insofar as most of these songs originated during the February studio sessions, whereas most of The Cars had been hammered out on stage before they entered the studio. “Let’s Go,” for example, was already a part of their live show, and it’s not surprisingly the song on here that sounds most like their debut. In addition to the aformentioned hit, Candy-O also included “It’s All I Can Do,” the other song on here sung by Benjamin Orr, and this is probably as good a place as any to mention that Orr is a much better singer than Ric Ocasek. Unfortunately, what you have on Candy-O are songs sung mostly by Ocasek, created in the studio and unduly influenced by This Year’s Model and, judging from the group’s wardrobe, The Man-Machine. Not the sort of stuff that would ordinarily sell four million copies, but The Cars were no ordinary band, and the combination of a great hit single (“Let’s Go”) and a great album cover were all that was needed to drive a consumer frenzy. These days, it’s interesting to look at Candy-O as an experimental record that delves deeper into the electronic possibilities of The Cars, as heard on “Shoo Be Doo,” “Candy-O” and “Nightspots.” Despite a few throwaways (e.g., “Lust For Kicks”), there are just as many songs that are underrated (“Dangerous Type,” “Since I Held You”), making this a good (not great) addition to any new wave collection. The album certainly continued the band’s commercial momentum and provided enough radio fodder until the band’s next platinum album, Panorama, rolled around.

Original LP Version
A1. Let’s Go (3:32)
A2. Since I Held You (3:16)
A3. It’s All I Can Do (3:46)
A4. Double Life (4:11)
A5. Shoo Be Doo (1:41)
A6. Candy-O (2:37)
B1. Nightspots (3:14)
B2. You Can’t Hold On Too Long (2:47)
B3. Lust For Kicks (3:52)
B4. Got A Lot On My Head (2:59)
B5. Dangerous Type (4:30)

All songs written by Ric Ocasek.

CD reissue bonus tracks
12. Let’s Go (monitor mix)
13. Candy-O (version)
14. Night Spots (version)
15. Lust For Kicks (monitor mix)
16. Dangerous Type (version)
17. They Won’t See You (version)
18. That’s It

The Players
Elliot Easton (lead guitar, backing vocals), Greg Hawkes (keyboards, percussion, sax, backing vocals), Ric Ocasek (vocals, rhythm guitar), Benjamin Orr (vocals, bass guitar), David Robinson (drums, percussion). Produced by Roy Thomas Baker; engineered by Geoff Workman.

The Pictures
Cover concept by David Robinson. Cover painting by Alberto Vargas. Art direction and design by Ron Coro and Johnny Lee. Photography by Jeff Albertson.

The Plastic
Released on elpee, cassette and 8-track on June 13, 1979 in the US (Elektra, 5E/5C5/5T8-507) {red label}, the UK (Elektra, K 52148), Australia (Elektra, 5E-507), Canada (Elektra, X5E-507), Germany (Elektra, ELK/K4-52148) and Japan (Elektra, P-10672E) with lyrics innersleeve; reached #3 on the US charts (RIAA-certified 4x platinum record) and #30 on the UK charts. Also released on reel-to-reel tape in the US (Elektra, 1R1 7043). 8-track features different track order.

  1. Re-released on remastered elpee in the US (Nautilus, NR-49).
  2. Re-issued on elpee in the US (Elektra, 5E-507) {red/black label}.
  3. Re-issued on compact disc in 1984 in the US (Elektra, 5E-507-2).
  4. Re-issued on compact disc on November 10, 1988 in Japan (Elektra, 20P2-2341).
  5. Re-released on remastered compact disc in 2001 in the US (Elektra, 60559).
  6. Re-packaged with The Cars, Panorama, Shake It Up and Heartbeat City as Original Album Series on 5CD (Rhino).
  7. Re-released on remastered 180g vinyl elpee in 2011 in the US (Mobile Fidelity, MFSL 1-324).
  8. Re-released on super high material cmopact disc on March 7, 2012 in Japan (Elektra, WPCR-14383).
  9. Re-released on expanded, remastered 2LP and compact disc in 2017 in the US (Elektra/Rhino) and on August 9, 2017 in Japan (Elektra, WPCR-17855) with 7 bonus tracks.

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