I have fond memories of the 80’s back when MTV still rocked and music in general (at least what I listened to) seemed less angry. I remember Tommy-Two-Tone, Dixie’s Midnight Runners and all those other one-hit wonders. Mixed in that crowd was Ric Ocasek, Ben Orr and The Cars. They actually were around from the late 70’s but I knew them in the 80’s. For this post I did a little listening research to each of their albums.
The eponymous initial release back in 1978 (I finally was able to use eponymous in a sentence!) has my all-time favorite Cars tune “Just What I Needed” as well as “All Mixed Up”, “Bye Bye Love”, ” You’re All I’ve Got Tonight”, “Good Times Roll” and “My Best Friend’s Girl”. It was a helluva first disk to be sure. I can’t say I dig “Don’t Cha Stop” or “I’m in Touch With Your World” though.
Their next release Candy-O in 1979 featured “Let’s Go”, “It’s All I Can Do” and “Dangerous Type”. The other songs, at least for me, were not that memorable. There was a bit of edge to this album but other than the three songs I mentioned, not much bite.
The followup to this in 1980 was Panorama. Somehow, they seem to have gotten lost in their own success or else wished to experiment a bit. The only song that I can listen to on that album is “Touch and Go” and it is not up to par with the songs on Candy-O. A real downer in my opinion.
The next year, they were back in form with Shake It Up which featured the eponymous hit “Shake It Up” (wow twice I could use eponymous – cool!) and “Since You’re Gone” but the rest of the album veers towards poppy nonsense like “Think It Over”.
Their climax in 1984 (god can you believe it is 27 years ago already when they ceased recording?) was Heartbreak City and was, as one may recall, their mega-success album – and mega-pop album too. It featured some really catchy tunes like “You Might Think”, “Magic”, “Hello Again” and “Stranger Eyes” and the pop ballads that they are probably most known for by the generations that came later: “Drive”, “Heartbreak City” and “Why Can’t I Have You”. Once one accepts that this was the height of MTV and The Cars got pretty good at music videos at this point, one can almost stomach the extreme sappiness of the aforementioned ballads. I admit that I listened to “Drive” – in the car naturally – and didn’t zap it, I didn’t turn it up but I didn’t switch to another song either.
There was also the forgettable Door To Door album in 1987 which I didn’t sample because, well, it was just not even worth the effort. It was a real anticlimax.
So there you go for today, the Cars Discography. Overall, they were better than the typical one-hit-wonder that abounded at that time and produced some great rock-n-roll at first but then kind of sputtered along with hits once in a while with the climax in 1984 and the end in 1987.
Ben Orr, RIP 2000.