Some bands are talented enough and possess a sound that is unique enough to crossover and capture the attention of fans from multiple genres. I always felt The Cars from Boston were a great example of that. Dismissing the trash that was The New Cars from 2005-2007, the original line-up of Ric Ocasek on rhythm guitar, lead and background vocals and synthesizer, Elliot Easton on lead guitar and background vocals, Greg Hawkes on keyboards, synthesizer, percussion, saxophone, bass guitar and background vocals, David Robinson on drums, percussion and background vocals and Benjamin Orr on bass guitar, background and lead vocals was intact from Day One until Benjamin Orr sadly passed away of pancreatic cancer in 2000.
I was a fan of this band from the first time I heard them back when I was still in grade school. They definitely were not a punk band but I never felt they fit into the new wave category either. There was a definite late 70’s style synthesizer sound but the work on the guitars helped steer the The Cars away from the constraints of that genre. Don’t get me wrong, I loved a lot of new wave music but depending on the band it could get a bit generic at times. I don’t think The Cars ever made that mistake.
The 1978 self-titled debut remains one of my favorite debut albums of all-time. There is not a single below-average song on the album and “Moving in Stereo”, “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight”, “Good Times Roll”, “My Best Friend’s Girl” and “Just What I Needed” are STILL essential songs 37 years later. The next five Cars albums Candy-O (1979), Panorama (1980), Shake It Up (1981), Heartbeat City (1984) and Door to Door (1987) each had some good songs but none are albums today that I would make a point of listening to from start to finish. No eighties compilation is complete though without the song “Shake it Up”, classic stuff.
The Cars broke up in 1988 and for all intensive purposes that was supposed to be it. Ric Ocasek swore over and over the band would never reunite and when Benjamin Orr died that solidified things in terms of all five ever playing together again. However, in 2010 rumors of a Cars reunion surfaced when a picture of all four remaining members in a studio together was posted on the band’s Facebook page. Sure enough songs started to leak on the internet and in May 2011 Move Like This was officially released. It was actually a pretty good album folks!
Even if The Cars do not release another album we will always have a lot of great songs and that stupendous first album to remember them by. And for the simple minded like me, be sure to Google “Moving in Stereo Fast Times” and choose the video with the pool scene. Yes, one of cinema’s all-time great moments. 🙂
Here is the lead track from The Cars, “Good Times Roll”.
Album Inspiration: The Cars