Raven’s 2010 two-fer combines Helen Reddy’s final two albums for Capitol Records: 1977’s Ear Candy and 1978’s We’ll Sing in the Sunshine, both co-productions with Kim Fowley. Ear Candy qualifies as a genuine oddity in Reddy’s catalog, a record that finds the queen of Australian soft rock paired with the king of L.A. sleaze, Kim Fowley, and his henchman Earle Mankey, a pair who were just coming off of the teenage kicks of the Runaways. Fowley and Mankey pushed Reddy toward unusual territory, but that doesn’t mean they lead her toward the gutter: they encouraged Reddy to write, prompting a surprising five originals on this ten-track album, let her dabble with synthesizers on the lurching “Long Distance Love” and had her do a Cajun stomp with “Laissez Les Bontempts Rouler.” While “Midnight Skies” bears trace elements of Fowley’s bubblegum -- it could have been the theme song for a sugary Saturday morning Sid & Marty Krofft ripoff in 1972 -- and the reverbed “Baby, I’m a Star” plays a bit like diluted Lee Hazlewood, Fowley and Mankey keep Reddy within her soft rock wheelhouse, and while there are no big hits here, there are few dull spots, and the odd moments help make this one of Reddy’s most interesting LPs. Following a sojourn to film Pete’s Dragon for Disney, Reddy returned in 1979 with We’ll Sing in the Sunshine, another co-production from the king of L.A. weirdness, Kim Fowley. Here, Fowley teamed with veteran L.A. arranger Nick DeCaro instead of Sparks guitarist Earle Mankey, and the results are considerably slicker and redolent of the polyester lounge of the late ‘70s, filled with shiny strings and disco flirtations that all wind up sounding a bit like TV theme songs. There are some changes of pace -- everybody works up a pretty good head of steam on a rollicking cover of the Beatles’ “One After 909,” and the vaudevillian shuffle of the title track doesn’t fit with the rest -- but the rest of this is spangly soft rock, often fairly well-crafted but riding on its slick commercial sound, which makes for something that’s an appealing period artifact, but not among Reddy’s best records.
Ear Candy/We'll Sing in the Sunshine Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine