Great Rock Albums of 1980: The Cars- Panorama


We’ve established that bands whose second albums don’t match their debut one is the sophomore jinx but what about a band’s third album? Does that make it the junior jinx? Those who went to high school in North America will know what I’m talking about here. Some people may put that branding on the third album by The Cars since many consider it not as good as their first two albums. I’m inclined to agree with that. “Panorama” isn’t quite as good as the self titled debut nor “Candy O.” Still, this in no way makes it a bad album, in fact, I very much enjoyed listening to it.

Why do people consider “Panorama” to be not as good. I explanation I can offer (and I whole heartedly agree with Stone over at Metal Odyssey with this) was that in the last two years of the 70’s, The Cars were ahead of their time. The problem was that by 1980, time was catching up with them. Many rock artists had a listen to them and thought, “These guys got something here.” Therefore, in 1980, many started to copy their unique sound. So when the third album wasn’t anything totally different, the reception wasn’t as great. However, a more simpler reason is that it’s hard enough following up one great album, it’s even harder to follow two. BTW, The Cars weren’t the only ones to experience this in 1980, but you will have to stay tuned for the other one.

“Panorama” starts off well with the title track and goes quickly to the song “Touch and Go” which I know from having their greatest hits album. I’ll admit that it’s not the greatest of their greatest hits, but it’s still a good song and the next two songs “Give Me Some Slack” and “Don’t Tell Me No” carry the album through fairly well. Then comes track five, “Getting Through” that really grabbed my attention and kicked things into gear, a very good song to say the least. “Misfit Kid” is a good bridge to the next really memorable track, “Down Boys.” This to made me stop what I was doing and listen more closely, I especially liked the introduction. The next track, “You Wear Those Eyes,” didn’t impress me at first, then came a very interesting guitar bridge and that turned my opinion on the song. As I said before, Elliot Easton isn’t a great guitarist all the time but he definitely shines when he’s needed to. The final two tracks do their job in taking the album home. So all in all, there is absolutely nothing wrong with “Panorama,” it’s a good solid album from a group that doesn’t disappoint.

Track Listing:

1. Panorama

2. Touch and Go

3. Give Me Some Slack

4. Don’t Tell Me No

5. Getting Through

6. Misfit Kid

7. Down Boys

8. You Wear Those Eyes

9. Running to You

10. Up and Down

The Cars

The Cars


Ric Ocasek- rhythm guitar, lead vocals on tracks 1,2,3,5,6,8,10

Elliot Easton- lead guitar, backing vocals

Benjamin Orr- bass, lead vocals on tracks 4,7,8,9

Greg Hawkes- keyboards, backing vocals

David Robinson- drums, percussion

The rest of the rock world might have caught up with The Cars in 1980, but that doesn’t make “Panorama” a bad album. It was an enjoyable listen but then again, people tried to duplicate them but The Cars are the original thing.

Next post: Warren Zevon- Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School

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4 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1980: The Cars- Panorama”

  1. While I agree that Panorama isn’t quite on the same level as the first two Cars albums, that’s a lofty standard to live up to and I think it holds its own among their catalog. I remember being the first person to buy the album on the day of release from my local record store, as they opened the box first thing that morning and gave me my LP without even pricing it. “Touch And Go” features what may be one of the most perfectly constructed guitar solos of all time. There isn’t a bad song in the bunch, although a few are only “okay” where the first two albums were packed with “excellent” to “brilliant” songs. Whenever I made a Cars compilation, for myself or friends, I included “Touch And Go,” “Gimme Some Slack,” “Misfit Kid, “Down Boys” and the title track, all of which are as good as anything they’ve ever done. I also eventually came around to “You Wear Those Eyes,” even though I didn’t initially respond to this offbeat moody track.

    My first & only time seeing The Cars in concert was on the Panorama tour, shortly after I turned 14. They were pretty boring, especially compared to the few bands I had seen previously (Cheap Trick & Blue Oyster Cult among them).

    One of the things that sets Panorama apart from the rest of their discography is the dark mood which is conveyed in the music and the artwork. It was drastically different from the previous two, and I think that works to its advantage. I love this album a lot more than Shake It Up, which has a better reputation than it deserves because of the handful of big hits it included. That to me is the weakest album in their discography.

    Thanks for highlighting this important album from my adolescence. I hope your post inspires some people to check it out for the first time.


    • Wow, listening to it again after so so many years made me appreciate this album more. You’re right, there isn’t a bad song in the bunch and we share the same sentiments towards “You Wear Those Eyes.” In fact, we seem to agree on just but everything as far as this album is concerned and I hope people do give it another chance.


  2. I love all The Cars LPs, such an underrated band in rock circles. I agree it is their moody one, and better for it too.


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