Released just one year after the self-titled debut, 1979’s Candy-O is another batch of new wave tracks written by Ric Ocasek. Like it’s predecessor, Candy-O is produced by Roy Thomas Baker but this one also features memorable art work by pin-up artist Alberto Vargas as suggested by drummer David Robinson.
The band’s first top 20 hit appears with the first track “Let’s Go”. Destined to be one of their classic singles, bassist Benjamin Orr sings about a teenage girl with a budding interest in the nightlife, the simple keyboard line is punctuated by handclaps and a shouted “Let’s Go!” in the chorus. Second single “It’s All I Can Do” is an understated track that sounds similar to Tom Petty with a nice synth in the chorus. “Double Life” compares driving to life and relationships, it gets pumped up by the drums in the refrain. The title track is harder driving with keyboard squiggles throughout.
For most bands, it would have been nearly impossible following up a debut where virtually every track is now considered a classic. But here, The Cars do a fine job on an album that would peak at #3 on the Billboard albums chart. The singles are the more memorable tracks but songs such as “Since I Held You”, “Night Spots”, and “Lust for Kicks” are all solid. Candy-O is another fine example of 70s power pop from the band that still endures.
Originating in Boston in the mid-70s, The Cars released
their self-titled debut in the early summer of 1978. Forever featured on compilations like Time Life
Collections, the band was at the foreground of the new wave scene. Adding synthesizers to classic, but
minimalist songwriting proved to be a winner. Though none of the three official
singles cracked the top 25, the album stayed on the charts for a mind boggling
139 weeks with most of the tracks being played endlessly on AOR radio stations.
In 2002, Elektra Records released The Cars compilation Complete Greatest Hits that pulled 6 of
the 9 songs from the debut. The three
aforementioned singles; “Good Times Roll”, “My Best Friend’s Girl”, and “Just
What I Needed”, are all classic American rock songs. 80s teenage movie goers will always remember “Moving
In Stereo” being used to great effect in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Of the tracks not appearing on the greatest
hits collection, only “I’m In Touch with your World” suffers from a bit too
much artiness. “Don’t Cha Stop” is a fun
upbeat romp and “All Mixed Up” pushes the synthesizers to the foreground, adds
some atmosphere with Queen like group singing and a fine sax solo at the end.
The Cars debut features the songwriting of bandleader Ric
Ocasek who wrote all the tracks with help from keyboardist Greg Hawkes on “Moving
In Stereo”. Bassist Benjamin Orr takes
over lead vocals on several tracks including “Just What I Needed” and sounds
very similar to Ocasek’s so blends in seamlessly. Along with guitarist Elliot Easton and drummer
David Robinson, The Cars was one of
the best debut albums of the 1970s.