Monday, September 24, 2012

Cars 2: Candy-O

Another year meant another album, which meant Ric Ocasek had to deliver a set of songs as strong as the first. He did okay with Candy-O, considering the possibilities.
“Let’s Go” is historic on a few levels, starting with that horribly dated synth sound, and continuing with a handclap-chant combination still heard at every major sports exhibition today. “Since I Held You” melds some fairly used-up lyrics to chord changes that are anything but predictable. Ben Orr comes back to sing “It’s All I Can Do”, one of their more underappreciated radio hits. “Double Life” is based around a rhythm machine, a foreshadowing of the drum sound that would soon dominate their records. There’s a crossfade to “Shoo Be Doo”, an annoying little segue before the title track, which better expresses Ric’s fondess for weirdness.
“Nightspots” teems with neon and traffic lights, giving way to the straight pop-rock riff of “You Can’t Hold On Too Long”. The song goes a bunch of other directions, but at least Elliot Easton gets to layer a bunch of different guitars. “Lust For Kicks” sounds like a continuation of the same song, but “Got A Lot On My Head” sports a wonderfully cheesy organ part to wash it away. The best might be saved for last: “Dangerous Type” begins with a “Bang A Gong” beat, elevating slowly until the extended fade, with nearly classical decoration from the synths.
We’re going to go ahead and award Candy-O the extra half-star above three for effort. While it’s not as strong as that debut, it’s still very good, and downright catchy. And their marketing skills were just as sharp as their musical prowess. After all, they were smart enough to put hot women on their covers, while their own personal views on fashion and cool were a tad suspect. (The belated expanded edition added a few alternate mixes and takes, one “unreleased” song that had already appeared on the Deluxe Edition of the first album, and the B-side “That’s It”.)

The Cars Candy-O (1979)—
2017 expanded edition: same as 1979, plus 7 extra tracks

1 comment:

  1. The 1st album was one of my favorites when it came out. The 2nd had this great cover so it had to be at least as good, right? No, it wasn't. I kinda liked it. After all, I just spent like $10 on it, I gotta get my money's worth.

    But it was enough of a disappointment that I never bought another Cars album. I kept the original LP until a few months ago because it had a sweet cover but I never played it in 30+ years since.