Monday, December 17, 2007
No. 282: The Cars
Band: The Cars
Album: The Cars
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: The Cars' success helped bring New Wave into the mainstream as human ugly stick Ric Ocasek's guitar work and songwriting created a sort of proto-nerd rock.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: I'm comfortable with this placement.
Best song: "Just What I Needed" is one of the great lead singles of all time.
Worst song: "I'm in Touch With Your World" isn't great.
Is it awesome?: Absolutely.
I wish I still had the booklet, but the liner notes from one of the Cars' greatest hits compilations (obviously, I'm paraphrasing) described the band as in a precarious New Wave place. The Cars were just punk enough for punks to like them, but also New Wave enough to get shows at CBGB's and have the punk rockers to enjoy them, as well. In essence, they got the best of both worlds.
On the strength of the band's first record, it's tough to argue. In fact, the first record has just the smallest tinge of New Wave quirkiness that the Talking Heads reveled in. Rather, Ric Ocasek's songwriting and Roy Thomas Baker's clean production made it so that the band would find serious radio play.
It is, really, a pretty amazing record. The band used to joke that the album should've been called "The Cars' Greatest Hits" from the start three (!) songs charted from the album. Those three songs -- "Just What I Needed," "My Best Friend's Girl" and "Good Times Roll" -- are all great fun and the album has a few non-single tracks of awesomeness.
"Don't Cha Stop" and "You're All I've Got Tonight" are both tons of fun, while "Moving in Stereo" is a signature song from the 1980s, thanks to its place in one of the most famous scenes in movie history.
The Cars are, for the most part, a greatest hits band. But, this album is a ton of fun.