THE UNDERDOGS: The Cars’ ‘Candy-O’

A column about underrated albums that didn’t get their due.

The Cars’ sophomore effort Candy-O was released 40 years ago this summer. And after decades of being relegated to second place behind their self-titled debut, it’s time this album got the attention it has long deserved, because I’ll tell you right now: this album SMOKES the debut.

Now, why should you or I care about a 40-year-old record on a major label that you can find in the dollar bin at any decent record store? Simple: good music is good music, and finding good rock and roll is no longer as easy as it once seemed. And this is a grand rock and roll record.

Strangely enough, I didn’t discover this until summer 2012 when I was packing for a trip while pulling an all-nighter to avoid jet-lag from flying overseas. My wife bought this record when it was originally released in 1979 and it had been sitting in the collection ever since we married in 1994 (25 years strong, baby!).

I still don’t know what drove me to put on this record (pun unintended, but if you groaned, then #dadjokes), but I did, and I was rather enjoying the nice grooves coming from the record.

Then the title track started.

I’m sure you know how this scenario plays out: a song comes on and your whole being stands up and says “WHAT?!?!?” So I played it again. And again. Probably played it 20 times or so. The insistent groove. The incredible guitar solo, which by itself isn’t much but in THIS song it absolutely burns up the record player! The lyrics (even more ridiculous than usual but completely fitting here)! And did I mention that groove? Why oh why isn’t this song ever played on the radio?

Still not convinced? Then flip over to Side Two and the grooves continue. The guitars are all fuzzy and slinky, and the intensity never lets up. Hardly a sophomore slump!

P.S. Ironically, this is my debut review for the folks at MMC. My second review is gonna smoke this one the same way Candy-O does to the Cars’ debut!

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