The Original Vs. The Cover – “I Want Candy”

For this month’s post on The Original Vs. The Cover, we are going to cover the song “I Want Candy” originally done by The Strangeloves and later covered by Bow Wow Wow. The song was written by Bert Berns, Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer in 1965 and three of the writers decided to release the song themselves and became known as The Strangeloves.

The Strangeloves were really Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer. However, as The Strangeloves, they said they were sheep farmers from Australia named Giles, Miles and Niles Strange who became filthy rich by cross-breeding sheep. They even wore wigs and unusual clothing when being these three outrageous personalities. At least they never took themselves too seriously…I mean how could you.

The song is believed to be about a dancer named Candy Johnson who the guys saw dancing at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City, but I don’t know if that has ever been confirmed. The band was originally going to record the song “Bo Didley” but wanted to make the song their own so they re-worked the lyrics and changed things up enough, but you can still hear the main beat to that song in the final product. Lyrically, the song is supposedly based of the 1958 book Candy by Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg which is about naive young girl who has a many encounters with much older men.

THE STRANGELOVES

As I mentioned earlier, the main beat of the song is from the Bo Diddley song “Bo Diddley”. It is a driving drum beat that actually seems a little tribal in nature. There is an old 60’s rock vibe with an almost Beach Boy guitar sound which is pretty far down in the mix. They also have added in some wonderful saxophone for an extra boost and more texture to the song. All the music was played by sessions musicians and not The Strangeloves themselves. They just sang.

Their vocals were decent enough. Pretty straight-forward delivery with not much personality thrown in, but still sounds good overall. Very simple production but we are talking 1965. There is a female vocal in their with the word “baby” in the middle of the song, but her name is unknown. All-in-all, a very respectable, solid track.

BOW WOW WOW

Before we get to Bow Wow Wow’s version, I have to make a quick mention about singer Annabella Lwin who was photographed nude for the album cover and the single cover. If this was done today it would cause so much stink as Annabella was only 14 at the time. It was actually quite criminal. I shouldn’t post these pictures but I did because those are the covers and I want the true representation of the albums so you know what to look for if you wanted to buy the album.

Back to the song, Bow Wow Wow don’t stray too far from the original, but they bring the guitar to the front of the mix and make it more important and in the 80’s you needed that. The drum beat was the same style as “Bo Diddley”, but they added so much more to the beats. Extra fills and a more rock sound to it. There was no saxophone part in this one as it was all done by the guitar.

Annabella’s vocals are so much more powerful then The Strangeloves. She had so much more personality and depth to her vocals. She twisted the pronouns on the song to be male and Candy became a guy for their version. You felt she believed in the song and she made it more fun and enjoyable overall.

THE VERDICT

The was really a no-brainer for me. I grew up listening to the Bow Wow Wow version as MTV played it all the time. I think Annabella’s vocals were so much better than The Strangeloves who didn’t bring as much flair. The guitar mix was much stronger and front and center to the song along with the drum beats having more layers and better fills and the kids did a bang up job giving us a more fun and wild song. Bow Wow Wow made it infectiously great and was a wonderful One Hit Wonder of the 80’s!!

I am really interested in hearing what everyone else thinks of these two songs.  Let me know which version you like the best and why.  Feel free to leave a comment and talk about the song and tell me how right or wrong I am on this one.  Thanks for stopping by and have a great day.

LYRICS: THE STRANGELOVES

“I WANT CANDY”

I know a girl who’s soft and sweet
She’s so fine, she can’t be beat
Got everything that I desire
Sets the summer sun on fire

I want candy, I want candy

Go to see her with her hair hung down
Ain’t no finer girl in town
Candy’s just what the doctor ordered
She’s so sweet, she makes my mouth water

I want candy, I want candy
I want candy, I want candy
I want candy, I want candy

Hey
Hey
Hey
Hey

Candy on the beach, there’s nothing better
But I like candy when it’s wrapped in a sweater
Some day soon I’ll make her mine
Then I’ll have candy all the time

I want candy, I want candy

Hey
Hey
Hey

Writer/s: Bert Berns, Robert Feldman, Richard Gottehrer, Gerald Goldstein

19 thoughts on “The Original Vs. The Cover – “I Want Candy”

  1. Its a draw to me…I like the guitar in Bow Wow Wow’s version but I like the drums better in the original…MTV played this video to death back in the day.

    Liked by 1 person

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