Hello, friends! Just a quick post this morning as I got a great question from a reader (thank you, MV!). Having heard the isolated track that I posted in my article about “Just What I Needed,” she was curious and eager to find out if more such gems existed. I do know of a few, so I thought I’d post them all in one place to make it easier for all of us to enjoy the deliciousness of Ben’s vocals.
Here’s that initial one. It was posted by Jose Mirelli on Vimeo, and it includes Ben’s bass track and Elliot’s guitar solo:
Jose has two more on his Vimeo page: “All Mixed Up” and “Bye Bye Love.” I love the one for “Bye Bye Love” so much that I wrote a little gush about it. Haha! Again, these uploads are both vocals and bass:
There is also a Youtube channel that has taken songs from The Cars’ first album and broken them down into isolated tracks. The only ones on there (right now) with Ben’s vocals are “Just What I Needed,” “Bye Bye Love,” and “Moving In Stereo.” These are literally *only* vocals, so you have to wait through the silence at the beginning of each track. Don’t give up — these are fabulous!
SO amazing! I never get tired of his voice!
The reader who asked about this was pointing out that with the recovery of the Candy-O monitor mixes, certainly the capability of creating more of these kinds of audios is out there. Of course, we all wish that the vocal tracks would be released from EVERY song Ben recorded! To put on headphones and have him crooning right into my ears is such a divine experience, and believe me, I partake regularly. And now you can, too!
If you liked this article, you might also enjoy the post I did where I listed all of the songs I know of that Ben sang lead on. You can find it here: Benjamin: Lead Vocal List.
Okay, so this is another one of my nerdy little mysteries … at least, it used to be!
I had heard this one 1987 interview on Youtube quite a while ago. It’s Ric and Ben with the late Bob Coburn on Rockline. A caller asked the guys what they do after a show, and Ben gave a rather odd and cryptic answer, which cracked Ric up, but left me baffled. Well, here… Take a listen:
Now what could he possibly mean? Surely not a literal hat, like his black bolero one from the Shake It Up days. Hmmm. Since I always chew on Ben’s words and turn them over and over in my head, his response really stood out to me but there was just no way I could figure out what in the heck he was talking about. So… I’m sure you can imagine how my eyes popped out of my head when I was reading Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars by Joe Milliken and I got to this part on page 108:
“The Cars had no drug scene. Most, as I recall, smoked cigarettes and pot, which was referred to as ‘putting on a hat’ or ‘le grand chapeau.'” ~ Stephen Bickford
Ahhhh! So that is what Ben meant! Goofy boy. He sounds so pleased with himself, too, the way he is snickering at his own joke. Hahaha!
Well, I guess we can lay that little riddle to rest.
Oh, and just to clarify, Stephen Bickford is a talented set designer who started working and traveling with The Cars around the time they were making Candy-O. He’s also the guy who (thankfully!) filmed a lot of the backstage antics that ended up in the epic The Cars: Unlocked DVD, and is credited with some great photos of Ben and the band, like this one:
The Question: A reader recently asked me about this song on Youtube by The Grasshoppers and wondered if I could clarify, “Was this The Grasshoppers before Ben joined? Or a different band?”
The Answer: Nope. Not Ben’s Grasshoppers.
Though the music and vocals sound similar to the band that made Ben a local celebrity in Cleveland, Ohio, and the time period is chronologically right in there, it is just a coincidence. This single was recorded by a band out of Twin Cities, Minnesota, that consisted of Jiggs Lee singing lead, Ben Hamar helping with vocals and handling lead guitar, Tim Black on bass, Tom Acheson on rhythm guitar, and Phil Scowler on drums.
Jiggs would go on to front a band called Cain, a heavy metal group which had a degree of success through the 1970s with their two albums, A Pound of Flesh (1975) and Stinger (1977). Jiggs was inducted into the Mid-America Music Hall of Fame on September 17th, 2010.
The song featured in the video in question is “The Very Last Day,” written by Paul Stookey and Peter Yarrow. It was originally released in 1963 by Peter, Paul and Mary, and covered by The Hollies in 1965 (both versions also available on Youtube). This Grasshoppers recording was put out in 1966, and may have been the flipside to the band’s cover of “Sugar and Spice” by The Searchers.
Even though it is not our Ben, click below to take a listen. It’s a great tune!
Exciting news! Well, at least for me. You know how I always have this nerdy little list of Ben mysteries that I am trying to solve, kind of like cold case files in the detective world? Well, thanks to the sleuthing skills of one of my good friends, “The Case of the Candy-O Lollipop” has been cracked!
We are all familiar with the now-iconic photo of Ben loving on a lollipop on the backside of the Candy-O album cover (if you’re not, just look to your right). Early in my obsession I had read somewhere that the lucky candy treat was actually not candy at all, but a type of writing pen that was popular in the sixties and seventies, with a little skinny handle and a large round lid over a ballpoint tip. As I recall, the story was that a secretary or an assistant on location at the photoshoot offered it to Ben as a prop. Of course, I haven’t been able to find that source since, and it has long been one of those things that I just wanted to be able to verify once and for all. Does it affect the government shutdown? Of course not. But there are those of us that just have to know every little thing…
So here you go: definitive proof! Zooming in on this outtake from the Candy-O photoshoot clearly shows that it IS a pen. Ah… another thing crossed off my list!