Tuesday, May 24, 2016

ABCs of My Vinyl Collection (Letter C, Part 4)

As the next three installments of this series will illustrate, man cannot live on indie pop alone... but I do try. You don't usually find hit-makers around here, and this might be a yawner to many of you, but what I loved most about the Cars was that they were unifiers. In my neck of the woods, the band was beloved by new wavers, punks, jocks and hoods in equal numbers. Their music was just that diverse and digestible. That's especially true of the early years. By 'Heartbeat City,' that image may have been altered a bit. Even though it's not true, many of us like to think a band is all ours, and that was an impossible feeling when the Cars had four top 20 singles that year and seemed to be on MTV every hour.

As for me, by 1984, I didn't mind sharing the Cars one bit. Even though the photo above seems to prove otherwise, I had more or less moved on to other things. I did see the Cars that summer in a huge outdoor theater. Wang Chung opened. The parent of one of my friends drove us the three hours to the suburbs of Chicago for the show. It was one of my first concerts, and any excuse to leave the sticks for the big city felt exciting. What I remember most vividly, though, was seeing a flyer for upcoming shows later in the month and wishing I could come back for Pretenders with Simple Minds and Elvis Costello and the Attractions with Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit. That's not exactly a moving concert review.

You're all quite familiar with the band's first six albums. So, let's listen to something from the seventh. Frontman Ric Ocasek boldly stated for decades that the Cars would never get back together. The death of Benjamin Orr in 2000 seemed to further cement that sentiment. Never say never. The four remaining members released 'Move This' in 2010. Once again, the music went down easy. It was as if no time had passed at all. The album came out in May, but they had a walk-up 7" released for Record Store Day a few weeks earlier. Both sides of the single would be part of the album, and I knew it, but I didn't have the patience. So, today, here is that single. I have no idea if there will be more new music from the Cars, but I do know Ocasek could write this catchy power pop in his sleep.

"Sad Song"
"Blue Tip"


George said...

There's something about this comment "You're all quite familiar with the band's first six albums." that is great. The assumption that all of us must know and like them, because to be unfamiliar is surely a sign of madness/idiocy/bad taste. It's something I'm guilty of too, I suspect. And of course, Brian, I am totally UNFAMILIAR with any albums by The Cars. Sorry.

Brian said...

Hey George. Never considered the possibility they weren't huge in the UK. All seven albums charted well here. Five of them were top 10 and there were 18 charting singles. Not nearly as impressive in your neck of the woods. Two of the albums didn't even chart at all. Thanks for the lesson. Do your research!

George said...

No Brian, I'm not saying they didn't chart, they probably did. I meant to say that I was unfamiliar with any of their albums (which, by implication, means I'm not very familiar with their songs, apart from 3 or 4 charting singles.)

Echorich said...

The first 3 Cars albums were pretty important to me. They were a bridge group between art rock of the 70s and the New Wave. To be sure, not withstanding Ric Ocasek's particular pop genius, The Cars owe quite a bit to BeBop Deluxe and what producer Roy Thomas Baker brought to the table (he was, after all quite involved with BeBop Deluxe just prior to working with The Cars), but there was a sort of twisted quality to their sound that made them stand apart as well. They were a bridge act on another important level. As a junior and senior high school student when they came out, they were a band I could proudly discuss enjoying and thinking were "cool" without all the suburban Deadheads, Zepheads, or Metalheads I grew up with getting down on me. They didn't threaten those kids the way the Sex Pistols or Ramones did. There was an element of anthemic familiarity in many of their songs but this was like a subversive sheen to a kid like me who got off on the fact that these other kids thought they got it.
I will proudly say that You're All I've Got Tonight and Moving In Stereo from the debut album, Candy-O and Night Spots from Candy-O, as well as Panorama and Touch And Go from Panorama are particular favorites of my high school years that still mean something to me today.
I'm afraid I began to loose interest by Shake It Up which was just too mainstream for me and by Heartbeat City I had had enough. My tastes had deepened around Post Punk bands like Echo And The Bunnymen, Simple Minds, Comsat Angels and Chameleons by then.

Brian said...

Sounds like I went one album further than you did. If we were the same age I bet we would be in complete agreement. When I discovered Shake It Up I was too young to know it was too mainstream. I certainly knew by Heartbeat City. We share many of the same favorite songs, especially Touch and Go. I think Panorama is the real underestimated album here. Sounds so much different than the others. Heavy emphasis on synthesizers. You mentioned some other C bands at the end there. Hmm, I wonder if they might be coming up. As always, thanks for giving your take.

charity chic said...

I guess that's just what I needed

Luca said...

'Heartbeat City' was one of the first LPs that I've ever bought. I've still got a lot of love for The Cars.

The Swede said...

Apart from a couple of singles, The Cars passed me by completely, though I was aware that they were a pretty big deal Stateside. I'm particularly interested in Echorich's comment (but then his comments are always worthy of close attention) to the effect that they were influenced by BeBop Deluxe. I was (and am) a big BeBop Deluxe fan and have never noticed a connection before, other than the Roy Thomas Baker one. I'm going to head over to Spotify and check out some more Cars material to follow this up.

JC said...

They weren't huge in the UK

Best Friend's Girl & Just What I Need Charted in 78/79. Then there was nothing until Drive in 84. No hits after that either.


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