Album Spotlight of the week: The Cars


When I was in 5th grade (1978) my parents bought an album (my parents bought lots of albums, which was cool because I got a lot of exposure to a lot of music at early age) that would forever stay with me. The album was “The Cars” debut album.  It was like nothing I had ever heard before.  I listened to that album almost everyday that summer.

“The Cars” is an album that, in my humble opinion, is WAAAAAY underrated.  I think most people remember The Cars from their “Hearbeat City” days unfortunately.  If you haven’t listened to their debut album in a while give another listen, I think you’ll gain a new found appreciation for it.

Like most great albums the greatness lies not in the radio friendly hits on the album, but the deep album tracks like “In Touch With Your World”, “All Mixed Up”, and “Don’t Cha Stop”.  No album before or since melded the hard rock, guitar oriented, anthem rock of Zeppelin and Boston with the New Wave sensibilities of Devo and The Talking Heads like the Cars debut album.

I listened to this album so much over the years that I wore down the vinyl grooves on the record. The needle used to just slide across certain songs.  In fact, I listened to the whole thing again, today. Twice! What struck me upon listening to it again after a long lay off was the heavy low end production.  This album ROCKS HARD!  Greg Robinson (drums) and Benjamin Orr (bass) laid down an incredible rythym track throughout the entire album.  And the crisp musicianship and precise timing amongst the members of the band is a blueprint in songwriting that any band should aspire to.

Ric Ocasek produced the album and shared vocals with Benjamin Orr (5 songs for Ocasek, 4 songs for Benjamin Orr).  Okasek did an exquisite job arranging and mixing the tracks on the entire album.  And the attention to detail rivals Jimmy Page in production technique.  From the phlange on Greg Robinson’s drum intro on “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight” to the jingle bells (you’ll notice them now that I pointed them out) on “Moving in Stereo” to the Phil Spector-like wall of sound replication on “All Mixed Up”, Ocasek nailed each song.

This is an album that gets better and deeper upon each listening and leaves the listener wanting to flip the album (okay let the CD start over) over and play it again as soon as it’s over.

In summary, I wish I had written this album.


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