The Cars – Candy-O and Panorama (Expanded Editions)
When The Cars collided with the music scene of the late ’70s they really caused a stir. Their sterile minimalistic sound filled with keyboards and highly textured guitars bridged not only rock and pop but also moved music forward into the new decade, embodying the esthetics and approach that would become New Wave before there even was such a thing. The impact and sheer success of The Cars cannot be understated and I feel is a fact that is lost on many today. We are talking about a band that sold a monumental 25 million albums in the US alone. You can’t even begin to put that in perspective in current times.
Candy-O, with an alluring air brushed image by Peruvian pin-up artist Vargas on the cover was helmed by famed Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker, as were all of their classic first four albums. It continues The Cars’ quest for perfection of sound and while still pop-based it is slightly colder and more metallic than their debut, mostly due to the exclusion of backing vocals this time out. The new remastering is a nice improvement on previous versions if not a bit loud. The extra tracks have interesting different vocal takes and vary in sound quality. The real star here is the album itself, from “Let’s Go” to “Dangerous Type” and everything in-between.
Panorama is a much more difficult record. As The Cars matured they began to dial down the pop sounds and catchy hooks in favor of a more experimental approach and an even colder and more disconnected tone. I’ve always felt these changes were possibly spurred on by hearing bands like Devo and Gary Numan come along. Those guys were toying with some of the same tones and moods as The Cars’ early material but in an even more aggressive fashion. While I like Panorama as an album it is admittedly not filled with single material but lots of interesting tracks. Honestly it a necessary bridge, serving as an evolution that would fulfill itself on their fourth album, Shake It Up. The extras consist of a b-side, a work in progress that would become “Maybe Baby” on the next album and two stellar unreleased songs. “Shooting For You” and “The Edge” feel like they should have been on the record and with a little more work could have possibly been the singles the album needed.
I think I’ll let The Cars sum up these expanded editions for me – “Candy-O, I need you so” and “I just want to be in your Panorama”!