Thursday, August 8, 2013

New Edition - Candy Girl

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Candy Girl, the debut album from the R&B boy-band New Edition. It charted at number 90 on the US Billboard Hot 200 and number 14 on the US Billboard R&B charts. Hailing from Boston, the original recording line up for the group back in 1983 was Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Bobby Brown, Ronnie DeVoe and Ralph Tresvant. Today we will take a look at the music to mark the album's thirtieth anniversary this year.

The record was released on the Streetwise/Warlock label and was produced by Maurice Starr and Arthur Baker. Starr also played guitar, bass, keyboards, synthesizer and drums. Baker did drums and sound effects. Frank Heller played tambourine, Tina B. provided additional vocals, Gordon Worthy played on keyboards, and Bashiri Johnson and Jimmy Johnson Jr. played percussion.

Side one begins with "Gimme Your Love", a bouncy plea for some affection. The song has a great groove for dancing to.

"She Gives Me a Bang” has a nice throwback late 70's disco sound to it musically. If you played it for people out of context, I think they might easily mistake it for some vintage Jackson 5 song.

As the second single, "Is This the End?" stalled at number 85 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 83 on the UK charts. It faired better on the US Billboard R&B charts where it climbed all the way to number 8. This ballad instantly reminded me of "Please Don't Go Girl", a track Starr penned for his other big group creation New Kids on the Block later in the 80's

"Pass the Beat" utilizes a number of elements from early 80's rap music that would make it popular with breakdancers and pop-n-lockers. Starr did the vocoder vocals on this one (and even cannot resist name-dropping himself while doing so).

"Popcorn Love", the third single, charted at number 101 on the US Billboard main chart, number 73 in Australia, number 44 in New Zealand, number 43 in the UK, and number 25 on the US Billboard R&B chart. This one really captures that young teen aspect of dating, holding hands and going to the movies together. Even the repeated synth bridge has a schoolyard chant sound to it.

Side two opens with the title track. "Candy Girl" was the group's debut single and was written to emulate the Jackson 5's hit "ABC" from the early 70's. "Candy Girl" charted at number 46 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 22 in Germany, number 17 on the US Billboard Dance chart, number 16 in the Netherlands, number 15 in Belgium, number 11 in Canada, number 10 in Australia, number 2 in Ireland and New Zealand, and number 1 in the US and on the US Billboard R&B chart. I remember quite fondly how much this one was loved at parties on campus and out at the bars during the years immediately after its release; it was a fun song to dance to that seemed to put everyone into a great mood.

"Ooh Baby" was a hit single in 1966 for Bo Diddley. The New Edition cover here brings the song squarely into the 80’s with its synth heavy foundation.

"Should Never Have Told Me" is up next. It is a simple enough pop song about a girl who makes her intentions known.

"Gotta Have Your Lovin'" seems like a retread of the first song in both music and lyrical content. I would expect that deejays could easily have mixed them into an extra long set.

"Jealous Girl" was released on the B-side of the third single. This ballad closes out the record. For me, it does not work very well; it is hard to balance the theme of a jealous lover with the fact that the song is being sung by guys that were fifteen years old. Back in 1983, that was an exception of an age as far as people having sex.

After the album’s release and heavy promotional touring, the band got home to find they were to be paid very little for their efforts. This lead to New Edition’s parting of company with Starr and the label in 1984, and to sign on with MCA. As such, Candy Girl is a rare to find record (it only came out on vinyl and cassette back in 1983).

I was able to dig around online and find a way to listen to all of the tracks from the album. I certainly would have been a fan of it back when it was released as up-tempo, pop/dance records were always welcome on my turntable then. Listening to it today, though, I can see that there were a number of by-the-book tunes that Starr and company were laying down. I would have preferred a bit more variety musically and lyrically.

1 comment:

HERC said...

LOVED the song "Candy Girl" from the first time I heard it; combining the Jackson 5 puppy love vocals with the emerging electro beats of the time, it was a sticky-sweet mess.

Heard the album but never bought it - got their second, self-titled album and even saw the boys in concert shortly thereafter.

Thanks for digging this one out and dusting it off.