- An outstanding copy of The Cars’ New Wave Classic, boasting solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides
- We guarantee this is some of the best sound you’ll ever hear on ANY Cars album – Roy Thomas Baker’s production makes this one jump out of the speakers like few recordings we’ve heard (and not many of them are from 1979, that’s for damn sure)
- An underrated album by the band – we consider it a Must Own, along with their brilliant debut, two records that belong in any audiophile’s Rock and Pop collection
- 4 1/2 stars: “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.”
*NOTE: On side two, a group of marks makes 6 moderate to light ticks at the end of Track 5, Dangerous Type.
This vintage Elektra pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What the best sides of Candy-O have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1979
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
A New Wave Classic
What other New Wave band ever recorded an album with this kind of demonstration quality sound? The sound of the best copies positively JUMPS out of the speakers. No album by Blondie, Television, The Pretenders or any of their contemporaries can begin to compete with this kind of huge, lively, powerful sound, with the possible exception of the Talking Heads’ Little Creatures.
If you have big dynamic speakers and like to rock you cannot go wrong here. Neil Young albums have the Big Rock sound, and if you’re more of a Classic Rock kind of listener, that’s a good way to go.
For a band with skinny ties, leather jackets, jangly guitars, synths and monstrously huge floor toms that fly back and forth across the soundstage, Candy-O is the girl for you, no doubt about it.
What We’re Listening For on Candy-O
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
A Must Own Rock Record
This Demo Disc Quality recording should be part of any serious Rock Collection. Others that belong in that category can be found here.
You can tell what’s happening on side one in the first 20 seconds of this track. Listen for the guitarrist tapping his pickups (rhythmically foreshadowing the claps in the chorus). If the tapping doesn’t sound hard and metallic (which is what you hear on most copies), you’re off to a very good start.
Ric Ocasek’s vocals can be slightly veiled on this track, but the better copies get him to sound breathy, with a room around his voice. We like him much better that way.
Another key point is the aforementioned hand claps that warn us of the incoming “Let’s Go!” The standard pressing is so compressed it makes these feel sharp and sterile, whereas the good pressings have the sound of flesh hitting flesh. They let you hear the room around them which adds to the good time vibe that makes this track the perfect lead off.
Since I Held You
Elliot Easton’s guitar solos frequently sound flat and compressed, but not on the good copies! The tone he gets with his guitars is captivating and triumphant. They soar above the rest of the music. The guy gets a sound that really works for this music, kicking it into high gear. Some say he lacks passion at the expense of technical virtuosity, but I hear plenty of both.
You can really hear the difference in the rhythm guitars as well. Often they come across as dull and lifeless; they should be jangly and playful.
Another great test, probably the best of the bunch, is the tambourine in the right channel that usually doubles the snare drum hits. It’s heavily gated, taking out all the harmonic trailing, a very popular and cool effect in those days. Most of the albums we listened to made it brittle and nasty. When you’re really cookin’ it sounds like a tambourine, highs perfectly intact, just one without the trails. That’s the sound they created in the studio. Not many records managed to capture it on vinyl. It’s a dead giveaway to good or bad sound on side one.
It’s All I Can Do
Some of the most spacious vocals on the record — we love this track here at Better Records. Pay close attention to the hi-hat sound. You want it to have a nice “chick” sound, not bite your head off.
Listen to this kick drum! I’ve never heard so much low end in a New Wave pop record. It has the formidable weight and power of a marching bass drum. Wow!! That’s some major low end energy, tight and punchy as it gets. Give your subs a workout with this one; they will thank you for it.
Shoo Be Doo
The guitar interplay in the intro is dark by nature, but needs transparency and midrange detail to properly convey the tension that it creates.
You Can’t Hold On Too Long
This ends up being one of the smoother tracks on the album. If your copy is lacking extension on the top, you pay for it here big time with noticeable veiling and loss of transparency.
Even on the best copies the bass is slightly leaner here than on the rest of this bass-driven record. Which means you need all your bandwidth to get this track to work, and that means you better have a very special copy to play or this song will be a letdown. Since it’s one of the two or three best songs on the album, we hope you either find yourself a good copy or let us find one for you. You deserve to hear this one at its best. When it’s good it’s REALLY good.
Which pretty much sums up this album. We just love it. After two days of playing it constantly, I’m still not sick of it. I say bring it on and turn it up!
Lust For Kicks
Got A Lot On My Head
A big finish for side two, very reminiscent of the ending for the classic first album.
AMG 4 1/2 Star 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 tillers)?
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…
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.