Happy 40th: The Cars, CANDY-O

Thursday, June 13, 2019
The Cars CANDY-O Expanded Edition Album Cover

40 years ago today, The Cars released their sophomore album, an LP which blew the chart high of their self-titled debut album out of the water and delivered unto the radio one of the greatest driving songs of all time.

Yeah, that’s right: The Cars were good at writing driving songs. Go figure.

Produced – like its predecessor – by  Roy Thomas Baker and recorded at Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles, CANDY-O has often been described as being a more democratic album than THE CARS, with the band coming to a consensus about the inclusion of each and every song. Similarly, they also felt more comfortable conversing with Baker, resulting in a slightly less slick sound for the material this time around. Virtually all of the songs were penned after the release of the THE CARS, which gives you some idea about what a well-oiled machine the band was at that point in their career, but as strong as the album is as a whole, there’s nonetheless one tune in particular that stands out from the pack.

“Let’s Go” is three minutes and 32 seconds of hand-clapping, synth-pumping pop goodness written by Ric Ocasek and sung by bassist Benjamin Orr. As a single, “Let’s Go” scored significant chart action here in the States, hitting #14 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it was an even bigger hit in Australia and Canada, where it made it to #6 and #5, respectively. One also shouldn’t underestimate its worth as an album opener, either, as it’s hard to imagine a better way to draw listeners into CANDY-O.

And, oh, how the listeners were drawn into CANDY-O: the album climbed all the way to #3 on the Billboard 200…and then it managed to make its way back onto the chart in ’84, when it topped out at #179 before beginning its descent again. These days, it’s gone platinum four times over, and you may rest assured that even though it’s been 40 years since its initial release, it’s still considered a classic.


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