Tuesday, April 26, 2011
The Cars Make a Welcome Return to the Music Fast Lane
We are overdue for a musical interlude, and what better time to get back in the rhythm than with the return of America's premier New Wave band?
We are talking, of course, about The Cars, who turned out a string of hit singles and albums from 1978 to 1987. The four surviving members of The Cars have reconvened and will release Move Like This on May 10, their first new album in 24 years.
Sadly, this will not be a complete Cars reunion. Bassist Benjamin Orr died of pancreatic cancer in 2000 and has not been replaced in the lineup. Orr provided lead vocals on some of The Cars biggest hits, including "Drive," "Just What I Needed," and "Let's Go."
Two videos already have been released for Move Like This, and they show that Ric Ocasek, Elliot Easton, Greg Hawkes, and David Robinson still can produce the classic Cars sound. Ocasek, who writes almost all of the band's tunes, still has a great way with a cracking riff, a memorable melody, and off-center lyrics.
"Blue Tip," the first single from Move Like This will instantly transport you back to 1982:
Some critics might claim The Cars haven't grown in 24 years, that they sound much like they did before. But it's fine with this critic if The Cars mine familiar territory, as they do with "Sad Song." What's wrong with The Cars sounding like . . . The Cars?
We can't leave this subject without enjoying some classic Cars. Here is the band from a 1984 concert in Houston, with "Just What I Needed," their first U.S. single. That's Ben Orr on lead vocals:
Here is one of our favorite Cars' LP cuts, "It's Not the Night" from Heartbeat City, which has to rank among the best albums of the "Big '80s." Ocasek sang lead on probably 70 percent of The Cars' songs, but Orr handles the lead here.
Ocasek clearly is fond of his late bandmate. How did The Cars decide who would sing lead on certain songs? Ocasek has said in interviews that "if a song needed a good voice, it should be Ben. . . . If a song had a lot of melody and needed a good voice, I would say, 'Ben should sing this one.'" One such song was "It's Not the Night." Enjoy: