From guitarist Elliot Easton:
The Cars would have that one record in a punk rocker's collection that was just a little right of center. And it might be that one record for mainstream fans who thought they were being really punky. We managed to span those two audiences.That's the perfect description of the band, isn't it? I've always maintained that eighties music really began in 1978 with the release of The Cars' self-titled first album and ended sometime around 1988 (I can't in good conscience consider Paula Abdul an eighties artist.) I was surprised to discover that the group never had a #1 single or album in their career - the single Drive was a #3 single in 1984 and the albums Candy-O and Heartbeat City both reached #3. As a side note, how awesome is the album cover of Candy-O??
The Cars were always more of a singles band than an album band, so I went with this 2 CD package instead of purchasing their entire early catalog. Since this is a Rhino Records joint, the liner notes are awesome. We're treated to a 27-page booklet crammed with rare photos, band's bio, song overview and an essay from Boston music writer Brett Milano. There's 2½ hours of music here, which could be a chore, but more than half of the 40 tracks are good stuff so it's not bad at all. I might have purchased the single CD greatest hits package instead, but I had to have a recording of Hello Again.
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart
Tracks: The songs from the debut album, Candy-O, Panorama, and Shake It Up are all good. I really fell in love with the band with Shake It Up, which I owned on cassette (and wore that thing out). They began to lose me with Heartbeat City and I never even bought Door To Door. I also think Drive is one of the most over-rated songs of the '80s - I've never cared much for it. My favorite Cars song is either Shake It Up or Magic, but everything here from 1984 and before is good, with the exception of the eleven "rare and unreleased tracks" which were unreleased for good reason. Besides, as I've written many times, I don't buy greatest hits compilations to discover new music.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: Either Shake It Up or Since You're Gone was the first song I ever heard on a personal stereo. During my sophomore year in high school in the fall of 1981, I was in either science or health class and a friend named Mark had a Shake It Up cassette and a new Sony Walkman 2 (like the one below, which ran about $200 at the time; $500 today with inflation). I gave it a listen (during class, of course) and couldn't believe I was able to hear the music that loudly while the teacher couldn't hear a thing. My teenaged life was changed. I'll never forget those orange headphones.
As I graduated high school in 1984, I had two favorite songs: The Reflex by Duran Duran and Hello Again by The Cars. I would put my cassette of Heartbeat City in the stereo of my Ford Maverick, listen to the first three songs, rewind and do it all over again.
Moving In Stereo = Phoebe Cates.
Previously revisited for the blog:
Move Like This (2011)