The Los Angeles music scene during the mid '80s should have been an absolutely vibrant breeding ground for power pop bands and new entries into the genre's pantheon of all-time classics. Unfortunately, guitar-oriented pop music at the time almost always lurched instead in the direction of bigger-than-life arena rock or sleazy hair metal. That's not to say some great music did not confidently arise from those two highly popular forms. Rather, it's just hard to believe there wasn't more room for unabashedly bubblegum rock that didn't feel the need to shroud itself in glitzy disguises. A great deal of pop metal and post-new wave arena rock, in fact, came quite close to the second coming of The Raspberries. But for some reason the fear of being labeled underground music often kept such artists from embracing their true essence.
Fortunately, this was not the case for the aptly named Sunset Strip band Candy, a quartet led by lead singer Kyle Vincent and songwriter-guitarist Jonathan Daniel. Other than a slightly pop metal look in the form of heavily styled but understated mullet haircuts, this group made no bones about its direct sonic ties to pure power pop pioneers like Big Star and The Records. The group's entire debut LP, 1985's Whatever Happened to Fun, would have been a welcome revelation to young listeners like myself unaware of an important common link between mainstream superstars like Journey and Ratt. Sadly, my discovery in earnest of true power pop would have to come decades later after some furious and focused digging. Nevertheless, Candy was there all along just waiting to be heard and championed on mid-'80s rock radio. That such a breakthrough never happened does not diminish the impact of a proto-emo masterpiece like "First Time" when sought out today. It does, however, make one wonder how music industry leaders couldn't figure out how to market this magically listenable material. Bulletboys instead, huh? Really.
Album Cover Image Courtesy of Mercury