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Candy-O [Expanded Edition]

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The Cars 7/28/2017

Review

After releasing a debut album that was considered perfect, packed with hits from beginning to end, the Cars faced an interesting dilemma on Candy-O. Should they make an exact replica and rake in the bucks? Or fool with the formula just enough to keep it interesting (while still emptying the tills)? Working again with producer Roy Thomas Baker, the band wrote an almost entirely new batch of songs that captured the same pop highs as The Cars while sounding different in some important ways. The group were a little unhappy with how slick their debut sounded so they asked Baker to dial back the stacked vocals and make sure there was a little dirt in the machine. He did this while still capturing the band's pop essence, which the group made easy by cranking out almost as many timelessly great songs as they did on their debut, whether it was the punchy title track, the hard-rocking AOR radio staple "Dangerous Type," or the intensely fun "Let's Go." They also wrote some rollicking pop gems; "Since I Held You" and "It's All I Can Do" are a one-two punch of melancholy hooks, achingly honest vocals, and brilliant production that any band of the era would be elated to call their own. To go along with the good-time rockers and melodic tunes, they took a couple left turns with the robotic "Double Life" and Suicide tribute "Shoo Be Doo," cranked out some very solid synth-heavy new wave on "Night Spots" and "Lust for Kicks," and a couple fun rockers like "Got Lot on My Head" and "You Can't Hold on for Too Long." Candy-O is the rare follow-up to a classic debut that almost reaches the same rarified air. Throw in one more absolute classic hit single and it would have been there. As it stands, it may be one of the best second albums ever made, full of great songs, inspired performances, and sporting a still-perfect sound. If this had been the Cars' debut album, people might consider it a classic. Coming after The Cars, it has to be rated a little lower, but not by much. [The 2017 remastered and expanded edition of Candy-O contains the cute, poppy B-side of "Let's Go" ("That's It") along with alternate versions of five songs from the album and one demo that never made it onto wax. Some them are slightly different mixes ("Let's Go," "Lust for Kicks") that contain bits that were excised on the final version, like the synth frills "Let's Go." Some of them are completely different takes recorded at Northern Studios that sound like early working tapes. The sound quality is shaky at times, as are the performances, but it's a fascinating addition to the album package anyway. The demo for "They Won't See You" (which also appeared on the Deluxe Edition of The Cars) shows that a finished version of the song might have be a nice addition to the album proper, if not exactly the extra hit it needed. The set also includes photos (including some from the session Vargas used when doing the iconic cover art) and notes by guitarist Elliot Easton.] ~ Tim Sendra
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Let's Go The Cars 3:33
  3. 2 Since I Held You The Cars 3:17
  4. 3 It's All I Can Do The Cars 3:46
  5. 4 Double Life The Cars 4:15
  6. 5 Shoo Be Doo The Cars 1:39
  7. 6 Candy-O The Cars 2:36
  8. 7 Night Spots The Cars 3:14
  9. 8 You Can't Hold On Too Long The Cars 2:49
  10. 9 Lust for Kicks The Cars 3:53
  11. 10 Got a Lot on My Head The Cars 2:59
  12. 11 Dangerous Type The Cars 4:28
  13. 12 Let's Go [Monitor Mix] The Cars 3:33
  14. 13 Candy-O [Northern Studios Version] The Cars 2:34
  15. 14 Night Spots [Northern Studios Version] The Cars 3:43
  16. 15 Lust for Kicks [Monitor Mix] The Cars 4:24
  17. 16 Dangerous Type [Northern Studios Version] The Cars 3:25
  18. 17 They Won't See You [Northern Studios Version] The Cars 3:48
  19. 18 That's It The Cars 3:19

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