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The Cars Candy O

The Cars Candy O

The Cars Candy O

Album Review Since the Cars had created a perfect album with their 1978 self-titled debut, it would be nearly impossible to top it. Instead of laboring long and hard over a follow-up like many ’70s bands did after a huge commercial success, the band cranked out their sophomore effort, Candy-O, almost exactly one year later from the first LP. And while the album was not as stellar as its predecessor was, it did contain several classics, resulting in another smash album that solidified the band’s standing as one of the most promising new bands of the late ’70s. The first single, the Top 20 anthem “Let’s Go,” proves to be the best track, but plenty of other standouts can be found as well. The title track remains one of the band’s best rockers, while the gentle “It’s All I Can Do” also deserved to be a hit. The band pays tribute to T. Rex on “Dangerous Type” (the main guitar riff resembles “Bang a Gong”), rocks out on “Got a Lot on My Head” and “Night Spots,” shows their softer side on “Since I Held You,” and embraces modern pop on “Double Life” and “Lust for Kicks.” Their second strong release in a row, Candy-O proved that the Cars were not one-hit wonders, like so many other bands from the same era.
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The Cars Candy O

Since the Cars had created a perfect album with their 1978 self-titled debut, it would be nearly impossible to top it. Instead of laboring long and hard over a follow-up like many ’70s bands did after a huge commercial success, the band cranked out their sophomore effort, Candy-O, almost exactly one year later from the first LP. And while the album was not as stellar as its predecessor was, it did contain several classics, resulting in another smash album that solidified the band’s standing as one of the most promising new bands of the late ’70s. The first single, the Top 20 anthem “Let’s Go,” proves to be the best track, but plenty of other standouts can be found as well. The title track remains one of the band’s best rockers, while the gentle “It’s All I Can Do” also deserved to be a hit. The band pays tribute to T. Rex on “Dangerous Type” (the main guitar riff resembles “Bang a Gong”), rocks out on “Got a Lot on My Head” and “Night Spots,” shows their softer side on “Since I Held You,” and embraces modern pop on “Double Life” and “Lust for Kicks.” Their second strong release in a row, Candy-O proved that the Cars were not one-hit wonders, like so many other bands from the same era.
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The Cars Candy O

The Cars, ‘Candy-O’ For their second album, the Cars lured renowned pinup artist Alberto Vargas out of retirement; at age 83, the Peruvian master delivered with a gorgeous image of a redhead in a body stocking, reclining on a car. The automobile was lightly outlined — Vargas knew that neither the car nor the Cars was the selling point. Back to Top Previous Slide Next Slide
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The Cars Candy O

The Cars, ‘Candy-O’ For their second album, the Cars lured renowned pinup artist Alberto Vargas out of retirement; at age 83, the Peruvian master delivered with a gorgeous image of a redhead in a body stocking, reclining on a car. The automobile was lightly outlined — Vargas knew that neither the car nor the Cars was the selling point. Back to Top
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The Cars Candy O

Rolling Stone critic Tom Carson said, “It’s almost inevitable that Candy-O, the Cars’ second album, doesn’t seem nearly as exciting as their first. The element of surprise is gone, and the band hasn’t been able to come up with anything new to replace it. Candy-O is an elaborately constructed, lively, entertaining LP that’s packed with good things. And it’s got a wonderful title. But it’s a little too disciplined, a shade too predictable.” Hamish Champ, writer of The 100 Best-Selling Albums of the 70s, said “With UK producer Roy Thomas Baker once again behind the decks, Ric Ocasek and his colleagues produced a follow-up to their hugely successful debut with more of the same quirky, offbeat songs that had caused such a stir the first time around.”
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The Cars Candy O

Unlike the first album, Candy-O was created under a more democratic approach. Ric Ocasek said of this, “When one of my songs goes to the band in barest cassette form, we sit around and talk about it. If I’m outvoted, we don’t do it. “We almost didn’t include ‘Double Life’ on the new album, it had been dropped. I think everybody in the Cars is open-minded and creative enough that they would do anything — nobody’s holding anything back. Everybody appreciates the more radical, experimental kinds of music and likes it. But sometimes, when you’re put together with five pieces, things are not as minimal as they could or should be. Everybody’s developed a unique personal style, and we rely on their input. If they did it, it’s good enough.”
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The Cars Candy O

The band’s label, Elektra, initially wanted to hold back the release of the album, but the band stood their ground. Ocasek said of this, “At first Elektra wanted to hold it back some, but we told them there was no way, because if they were going to hold that back, they were going to hold us back, and we can’t just sit around and be held back.” Released as the follow-up to their 1978 hit album The Cars, Candy-O peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200. The album re-entered the charts at #179 in 1984. The record was also ranked number 82 on Billboard’s “Top Albums of the Year” chart for 1979.
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The Cars Candy O

The album cover was painted by artist Alberto Vargas, who was known for his paintings of pin-up girls that appeared in Esquire and Playboy magazines in the 1940s through the 1960s. The idea to hire Vargas came from drummer David Robinson, the band’s artistic director and a collector of pin-ups. The 83-year-old Vargas had retired several years earlier but was persuaded to take the assignment by his niece, who was a fan of the Cars. The painting, depicting a woman sprawled across the hood of a car, was based on a photo shoot directed by Robinson at a Ferrari dealership. The model, coincidentally named Candy Moore (famous for having played Lucille Ball’s onscreen daughter on The Lucy Show), briefly dated Robinson afterward.
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Though Ocasek would later claim responsibility for just about everything on the Cars’ records, when discussing Candy-O, he described a much more democratic approach. “When one of my songs goes to the band in barest cassette form, we sit around and talk about it. If I’m outvoted, we don’t do it,” he explained. “We almost didn’t include ‘Double Life’ on the new album, it had been dropped.
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The Cars will reissue their second and third albums, Candy-O and Panorama, with a slew of rare and unreleased recordings July 28th via Rhino. The records will be available digitally, as well as on CD and double-LP vinyl.
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For their second album, the Cars lured renowned pinup artist Alberto Vargas out of retirement; at age 83, the Peruvian master delivered with a gorgeous image of a redhead in a body stocking, reclining on a car. The automobile was lightly outlined — Vargas knew that neither the car nor the Cars was the selling point.

Candy-O has received positive reception from critics. AllMusic critic Greg Prato said that “while the album was not as stellar as its predecessor was, it did contain several classics, resulting in another smash album that solidified the band’s standing as one of the most promising new bands of the late ’70s.” Music critic Robert Christgau said in his review that the album was “cold and thin, shiny and hypnotic, it’s what they do best–rock and roll that is definitely pop without a hint of cuteness,” giving it a B+ rating.
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Released in June 1979, the group’s sophomore LP, Candy-O, found the group reuniting with producer Roy Thomas Baker and delivering a slightly rougher variation on the debut’s heavily multi-tracked sound. But lest fans think the new album’s similarity to its predecessor was proof of a dearth of new ideas, Ocasek made it clear he was already thinking ahead.
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When it came time to track Candy-O with Baker, the group continued to give him room to apply his style to their sound — within reason. “Well, some of the things on that first album that we thought were a little slick, we toned down on the second, like on the background vocals,” Ocasek added. “But if we were going to rely on the producer we had hired, there was no reason to try and change him. On the second album, it was easier to say, ‘Roy, let’s not do the multi-tracked harmonies this time.’”
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It was plenty good enough for the band’s widening circle of fans, who sent Candy-O to No. 3 on the Billboard album chart, while the leadoff single, “Let’s Go,” rose to No. 14. By the end of the year, the record was certified platinum for sales of over a million copies, adding to a string of hit albums that continued more or less unbroken for most of the ’80s. Eventually, they’d grow to become one of rock’s bigger and more reliably successful groups — but even though they had the good fortune to release some of the decade’s most radio-friendly singles, Ocasek insisted that commercial potential was never their greatest concern.

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