Candy - Whatever Happened to Fun (Polygram/Rock Candy) 

Existed in post-Germs Hollywood with Kim Fowley's mentorship and sold-out Whiskey shows

Candy's 1985 major label album sounds now like a pop-song art project, all Saturday morning sugar highs, major-to-minor tear-jerk riffs and ironic rockstar gestures. Singer Kyle Vincent's voice could've put flutters in girls' jeans, to be sure, and it would've been a radio programmer's dream — had it been the early '70s. The band's named after the '60s sexed-out psych flick and you hear the albums that abducted their hearts as teens by Generation X, Nick Gilder, the Boys, Sweet, David Cassidy, Johnny Thunders, etc. 

The juxtaposition of such super-pop created by four kohl-eyed dreamers with power shags — who existed in a post-Germs Hollywood radius that included Kim Fowley's mentorship and sold-out Whiskey shows — is a whole greater than its context. See, Candy was the overlooked missing link between the Knack and Mötley Crüe; too punk rock-glam to wear suits, too puppy dog to be junkies and too smart to know better. Candy was too much too late (or too soon) and it floundered after this absolutely brilliant pop album. 

Helmed by Raspberries star-maker Jimmy Ienner — who brought in that band's guitarist Wally Bryson — Candy's poppy guitar raunch was tamed so the themes of pure innocence shone through. There's nostalgia in boring teen suburbia ("Electric Nights"), Saturday morning anthems ("Weekend Boy"; the MTV-rotated "Whatever Happened to Fun"), innocuous sexual tension ("Turn It Up Loud"), and the very idea of being stranded in L.A. ("American Kix"). Like the Raspberries, Candy was at once exquisitely harmless and great rock 'n' roll — youthful verve tailored for a radio that no longer existed. The quartet should've been huge when it mattered.

The ensuing years were better for the band: Guitarist Gilby Clarke (who beat out pre-Poison C.C. DeVille for Candy's guitar slot) went on to Guns 'n' Roses, a solo career, a network TV show with Tommy Lee and even toured with the MC5 and produced bands. Songwriter-bassist Jonathan Daniel formed Electric Angels with Candy drummer Jon Schubert (now a teacher) did one album on Atlantic; Daniel currently wears good suits managing rock star careers and heading up the resurrected IRS Records. And Kyle Vincent's solo albums are worth seeking out, particularly for pop fans.

More by Brian Smith

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