Nuggets: I Want Candy by The Strangeloves

Before he became Patti Smith’s bass player, Lenny Kaye compiled the 2 album set, Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era. Released in 1972, the two-LP set covered American garage rock and psychedelia from the years 1965-1968 and was a major influence on punk rock. Rhino Records reissued an expanded version of the set in 1998, with 118 tracks in total. I’m profiling and rating each of these 118 tracks, working backwards.

Track 94: I Want Candy by The Strangeloves
Release Date: 1965
From: New York (although they pretended to be from Australia…)
Aphoristical Rating: 6/10

‘I Want Candy’ is one of the best-known songs from Nuggets. Musically it’s not very interesting – it’s effectively a rip-off of Bo Diddley’s ‘Bo Diddley’. The song has endured though – British new-wave band Bow Wow Wow had a top ten hit with their version in Ireland and the UK, while it’s also been covered by Aaron Carter and Spice Girl Melanie C.

The Strangeloves were created by producers Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein, and Richard Gottehrer. They’d previously written hits for other artists, most notably The Angels’ ‘My Boyfriend’s Back’. With musical fashions changing from girl groups to beat groups, the trio decided to make their own band. They fabricated a backstory whereby they were sheep farmers from Australia who struck it rich after creating a new crossbreed, the long-haired Gottehrer.

‘I Want Candy’ was written with 1960s hit-maker Bert Berns, and reached #11 on the US singles chart. Despite the initial success the “band” only made one record, breaking up in 1965. All three Strangeloves remained in the music business; Gottehrer has the most impressive CV, producing records for Richard Hell, Blondie, and The Go-Go’s, as well as Marshall Crenshaw’s classic debut. After a 53 year gap, the three Strangeloves appeared on stage with Yo La Tengo in 2018.

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  1. I didn’t know that Richard Gottehrer was one of the guys in The Strangeloves. I also didn’t know that he had anything to do with My Boyfriend’s Back by the Angels. That would certainly explain his involvement with Blondie. But My Boyfriend’s Back is one of the greatest records ever and I Want Candy is just kind of okay. I kind of like the bouncy music on it but I never really liked it that much.

    • Yup, I didn’t know you could draw a line straight from My Boyfriend’s Back to CBGBs, but it makes sense.

      • X Offender on the first Blondie album is so obviously descended from My Boyfriend’s Back that I’m surprised I never thought of it before. There’s a couple girl groupish ones on that album and they’re the best ones. It’s what he was born to do. Lol.

  2. A catchy, if largely disposable tune. I guess I’m not entirely surprised that it was done by studio guys or songwriters under some phony name. There is a time-worn history of that. I know that some of the bubblegum songs of the Sixties were like that.

        • Well, who could ever forget Green Tambourine by The Lemon Pipers? Or Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’ by Crazy Elephant. And tons more like these awesome ones here.

          Dizzy (and also Cinnamon) – Tommy Roe
          1, 2, 3 – Len Barry
          Sugar Sugar – The Archies
          Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie – Jay & the Techniques
          Crimson and Clover – The Shondells
          Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes – Edison Lighthouse

          I would also include a lot of Monkees songs although a lot of people don’t include them as bubble-gum. But there’s;
          Daydream Believer
          I’m a Believer
          Steppin’ Stone
          Pleasant Valley Sunday

          And lots more depending on how you want to define it.

          • I see your point. I could live without some of those. But some I like quite a bit. And no, I don’t think of the Monkees as bubblegum but I was a big fan back in the day.

          • Years ago I got a used CD for like a buck or two that had either 30 or 40 songs on it and it had Bubblegum in the title, something like Great Bubblegum Hits of the ’60s or something like that. But there’s like a million of them and sometimes I go online to try to find the exact one that I had because it had all the right songs on it. Buffalo It was one of the funnest albums I ever owned.

          • Yeah. Tommy James and Tommy Roe were the Kings of bubblegum. Do you know anyone who doesn’t love Crimson and Clover? Even if it was just because they had more of them than anyone else. But also because the music on the records was so good. Some people say that Tommy James’ I Think We’re Alone Now or Hanky Panky were the first real bubblegum hits, but I don’t know. Hanky Panky is too rough sounding to be bubblegum. It’s closer to garage rock actually. It’s more Louie Louie than anything else. There’s always a lot of overlap between all these categories anyway. I think so anyway.

          • I have a greatest hits which has a ton of great songs. Crystal Blue Persuasion is a good one that I’ve never heard on the radio.

          • Really? I used to hear Crystal Blue Persuasion all the time on the radio. That was one of his last hits, other than the great Draggin’ the Line. That one was actually in the ’70s. Like 71 or 72

    • It pretty much is a bubblegum tune, right? The 1980s cover brought out some connotations that weren’t really in the original.

  3. I like the percussion in this one. I do agree with you though…they did do a job on Bo as far as copying him.
    Bert Berns could smell a hit from anywhere. The guy had talent in that area.

    • Berns died super young too, wonder if his instinct would have continued through changing fashions?

      • I don’t know that is a good question…you had people like Mickie Most who lost their touch or stopped trying.

        • Berns had lots of excellent classics. Especially all those mid-sixties ones. I think even Hang On Sloopy. Is Mickey Most the one who did Sweet and Suzi Quatro and stuff like that?

          • I think so yes…he had a lot of success with the Who and bands like that earlier on.

    • Yup, Bow Wow Wow’s cover is a bit better, I think, Certainly emphasises the potential double-entendres.

  4. “I Want Candy” made a stronger impact in pop culture than its song chart ranking would suggest. It’s not the greatest song, but it has energy and a cool vibe. In the end, it’s a fine example of primitive music from the dark days of pop culture.

    • It almost feels a bit anachronistic for 1965 – could easily have come from much earlier in the 1960s.

    • This one’s pretty similar melodically too I think – I guess there’s a specific melody that goes with the beat?

      • Oh I’m sure there’s a myriad of melodies to pair with it, maybe it was just lazy, or riding the coattails, or an homage, or a bit of all that? Who knows.

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