Teenage Neon Jungle (Rare and Unreleased)
Sometimes, in the chaotic, overpopulated music industry, great bands fall through the cracks in the sidewalk, while other, lesser bands carry on walking to go on to greater things. It’s just the way it is. Candy certainly weren’t the first band to fall victim to this quirk of a cruel, cut-throat business environment, and they were definitely not the last. But Kim Fowley, who discovered the LA four-piece, was right – they were a great band who should have, as he said, gone on to be “the next matinee idols.”
Comprising the considerable vocal talents of Kyle Vincent, the axe-work of future Guns N Roses member Gilby Clarke, the powerful skin-bashing of John Schubert and the clever songwriting and razor-sharp melodies of Jonathan Daniel, Candy should have been huge. They drew big audiences in LA, signed with Mercury Records and toured with Corey Hart and Rick Springfield. But youthful exuberance took its toll, the band internally combusted and after a period with Clarke on vocals, the band called it quits.
Despite the band’s lack of longevity, their music lives on, and whenever bands like Jimmy Eats World and Green Day toast their success, they should raise a glass to Candy’s blistering brand of power pop, such was the footprint their music left behind. Tunes like “Turn It Up Loud” and “Whatever Happened To Fun” blended influences such as the Ramones and the Raspberries to create a sound that bands like the Replacements later found success with. It wasn’t pop, it wasn’t punk, but it was damn good, and the era – or the record company – just wasn’t ready for it.
Teenage Neon Jungle (Rare and Unreleased) pays homage to the phenomenon that was Candy, albeit in demo and live form as the original versions of songs from the classic Whatever Happened To Fun album remain locked up due to label politics. Fifteen Candy songs are represented here as well as a few odds and ends from bands and careers that were formed from the ashes of the band. The result is a fun-packed amalgamation of huge choruses, crunchy guitars and a glimpse into an era of music now sadly passed.
“Turn It Up Loud” personifies the band’s ethos – a fun tune with substance, a melody of superglue strength and a chorus bigger than the hairstyles the band sported back in 1983. The new ‘03 version is almost as good as the original (minus its cheesy keyboards) and is a fitting tribute to Candy’s collective talent.
Jonathan Daniel’s clever and sometimes cynical songwriting is demonstrated on “First Time” and “Weekend Boy.” “Lonely Hearts” packs a familiar melodic punch, and more tales of teen angst are told in the rip-roaring live version of “Kids In The City.”
Elsewhere, the band’s classic mantra – “Stay forever young” – is at the core of the timeless “Electric Nights,” the poignant “Last Radio Show” closes things out and Candy’s best tune, “Whatever Happened To Fun,” is a perfect anthem just waiting to be covered by one of the many bands influenced by Candy over the years.
Candy may now be a fond, distant memory, but the fun certainly lives on with Teenage Neon Jungle (Rare and Unreleased). Now all former Candy members John Schubert and Jonathan Daniel need to do is compile a similar collection of tunes from another cruelly overlooked band of theirs which was also way before its time, The Loveless.