The Cars/The Complete Greatest Hits


Cars - Complete Greatest Hits

The Cars were an American rock band that emerged from the early New Wave music scene in the late 1970s. The band consisted of singer and rhythm guitarist Ric Ocasek, singer and bassist Benjamin Orr, guitarist Elliot Easton, keyboardist Greg Hawkes and drummer David Robinson. The band originated from Boston, Massachusetts, and were signed to Elektra Records in 1977.

The Cars were at the forefront in merging 1970s guitar-oriented rock with the new synth-oriented pop that was then becoming popular and which would flower in the early 1980s. Robert Palmer, music critic for The New York Times and Rolling Stone described The Cars’ musical style by saying: “they have taken some important but disparate contemporary trends—punk minimalism, the labyrinthine synthesizer and guitar textures of art rock, the ’50s rockabilly revival and the melodious terseness of power pop—and mixed them into a personal and appealing blend.”[1]

The band broke up in 1988, and Ocasek has always discouraged talk of a reunion since then, flatly telling one interviewer in 1997 “I’m saying never and you can count on that.”[2] Easton and Hawkes, however, joined with Todd Rundgren in 2005 to form a spin-off band, The New Cars, which performs classic Cars and Rundgren songs alongside new material.

Complete Greatest Hits is a compilation album by the New Wave band The Cars, released in 2002 by Rhino Records, and contains 20 singles in chronological order of their original release.

Just What I Needed—-This, like most of the releases from this band, carries a trademark sound that allows you at once to know whom is playing. With a gentle AOR sound, Ocasek delivers his lines in an almost deadpan way while the music builds and swirls around him. This is fantastic…the band was at a creative high with this first release and the hits just continued to pile up. The sound is decidedly 70’s oriented, but still has a fresh and fun sound even now.

My Best Friend’s Girl—-With a topic that most every teenage boy could relate to, The Cars again climbed the charts with this classic tale of unrequited love and sexual fantasy. Who could ask for more? Again, Rik delivers a deadpan vocal that is bolstered by the band in the backdrop…the beginning chords of the song sound remarkably like Jesse’s Girl…but that is forgiven as the song develops into an instant classic. This is freakin’ wonderful to hear again.

Good Times Roll—-This song, a mainstay on 70’s FM radio, has always been a very favorite of mine. It conjures up memories of summer, heat and juvenile parties. The synth swirls that are present were almost unheard of at this time in the evolution of New Wave….the vocal is cold and distant but the timbre of the song speaks for itself. When the voices all join together, it is a pretty good Queen impression. Classic.

You’re All I’ve Got Tonight—-With a bit more of an aggressive guitar sound, this does not fall into the typical landscape of most of the bands songs…this is nice though. I love when the band all harmonize together and the primitive synth line kicks in and drives me close to ecstasy. The music alone saves this from obscurity. Classic stuff!!!

Bye Bye Love—-This, a really less known single, still carries the trademark synth sound of the band although I believe this is Benjamin Orr on vocals…not coming across as mechanical and disembodied as usual. The synths remind me of this time period of Rush….primitive but remarkable for the time period. This is fun and a forgotten song that is nice to hear again.

Moving In Stereo—-I really am unfamiliar with this song from the title alone…as I hear it, I recognize it a bit, but this is almost brand new to me. The swirls in the synth are huge…the bass kicks in and you have a pretty typical Cars song. The vocal is again different from Rik’s monotone delivery…which is nice…you need a little differential now and again. This is nice, but I’m not sure why it is one here?

Let’s Go—-This was the beginning of a stretch of singles released by the band that really cemented them in the New Wave/Rock community of the very early 80’s. It was and remains rather difficult to pigeon hole the sound of the band into just one catagory…..the jangly guitar, and the irresistable synth line created a huge reaction here in the states. The vocal is fantastic…the song is layered in warmth but still has an icy cold element to it that is amazing. I love this…..everything about this is feel good!!!

It’s All I Can Do—-With a rather surprising subtle intro, the guitars are nicely defined and the synths are not as pronounced at the onset. the vocal is cold and with little emotion. when the chorus and the real synth line emerges, you are treated to an instant classic that lives on and on even today. One of the foremost FM radio bands, this is clearly an example of why they resonated all across every musical line during the late 70’s to mid 80’s. This is just wonderful!!!

Dangerous Type—-With a nice bass intro, the predictable guitar sound of the band fully emerges and the disembodied vocal comes from the drakness…the accelerating guitar sound accompanied with the synth and guitar lines gives us another classic single that never grows old for me. This is so reminiscent of the typical crossover New Wave/Rock sound of the 80’s decade…these guys made lots of money off of us with this contagious stuff.

Touch And Go—-With a fairly simple arrangement and lyrics, this song still remains one of my favorites. This is heavily steeped in bass and synth….the vocal is so removed it is as the recording is done in a separate room….when the chorus comes in and the jangly bass guitar enters you have a different song all together. This is freaking brilliant. I love it when the whole band sings together…it creates a full sound that really compliments the music. This remains a very favorite of mine if only for the accelerated synth line and bass guitar alone. Remarkable.

Shake It Up—-Perhaps one of the premier singles in the band’s career, this managed to take them to a nice crossover status that they enjoyed for the next few years to come..allowing them to saturate rock stations and dance floors as well. This is remarkable. Combining the best elements of Rock FM radio and the New Wave flooding the market…combined with a classic video guaranteed the band a place in musical history for this release alone…I never tire of this…the best of both worlds!!!

Since You’re Gone—-This remains SUPERB….the slow and agonizing build-up is just classic…the removed and cold vocal allows the song to rely on the music alone and the music is GRAND. The handclaps and finger snaps creates a whole different landscape for the song…this is just masterful. Rik has never sounded more frustrated and cold…the music….lighter on the synths still claims a magical spot simply for the integrated sound alone…this is just classic!!!

I’m Not The One—- This is much more sedate and sublime than what the public was used to from the band…allowing us to realize that the guys were more than just a party, feel good band. This is sedate and introspective with a nice shuffling beat that pleases the listener at this point in the recording. It is wonderful to hear such diversity and talent from one band…remarkable.

You Might Think—-Perhaps one of the defining singles from the band, this began a stretch where you were hard pressed not to find the band on the radio or on MTV. This is huge fun and the video was just classic…you can not deny the magic and talent of this little band that really never intended to be the biggest band in the land…well they were and we reap the benefits of the output. This is just a wonderful memory all the way around.

Drive—-One of the biggest singles of the band’s career, this single..sung by Benjamin and accompanied by a ver disturbing video shook the fans out of the comfort zone of happy, easy-going music and allowed them to dwell on the emotional aspects of the times with this sedate and somber single. The synths are light, but the atmosphere is heavy. Every single listen to this song leaves me devastated and remembering something I had long ago forgotten…this is history.

Magic—-Again, powered by the success of a classic video, this song was huge for the band even as it was dissolving and the members were intent on going and doing their own thing. Ocasek in this video was the world-wide epitome of chic geek and the synth lines from the band are more powerful than on any song up to this point. This is a remarkable and apt combination of guitars and keyboards that produced a fun energy that resurfaces at the beginning of every summer season…this is just fantastic!!!

Hello Again—-The beginning of this track for me is the best part of the song all put together. The keyboard/synth line is huge and the song becomes this fun pseudo-Devo track that is full of pogo rhythms and fun lyrics. This is a piece of magic…the band coming together on the chorus gives the track a huge fun sound…hard to believe they were close to the end…we will reap the benefits for many years to come…thanks be to God!!!!

Why Can’t I Have You—-Never a favorite track of mine, I’m not even sure this was a hit for the band? The vocal is very nice…the synths are great but there seems to be an emptiness that you can’t get away from on this track…perhaps it was the condition of the band or a simple lack of inspiration. The chorus comes together nice, but the rest of the song sounds like a half done composition.

Tonight She Comes—-This track is a nice return to form for the band…combining the elements that made them huge to begin with. the instrumentation is grand…the synth lines are spectacular and the vocals are so cold and removed you know for sure the band was in a great frame of mind during the composition of this song. This combines everything into a nice package that found them a spot once again on the pop chart with little problem.

You Are The Girl—-The last proper single that the band ever released, the song lacks some of the shine and luster of other tracks. The vocal is nice, but seems uninspired and as if the band was just going through the motions. The chorus comes together rather nice, but there still seems to be something missing from this. A shining career, not overshadowed by a few off kilter singles…they have their permanent place in pop history.

 **** 1/2 out of 5

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