Archive for The Cars

Great Rock Albums of 1984: Peter Wolf- Lights Out

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2017 by 80smetalman

It’s funny how sometimes when a singer leaves a band, both that singer and the band, with their new singer, put out an album around the same time. Is it coincidence? Rivalry? Answers on a post card please. I guess we’ll never know. All I know is that in 1984, after singer Peter Wolf left the J Geils band, the band released the album I visited in the last post and Peter Wolf came out with his debut solo album, “Lights Out,” at the same time.

Listening to the opener, title cut and biggest single from the album, I am reminded why I probably stayed away from the album. The video for “Lights Out” got a fair amount of play on MTV at the time but it also got played a lot in dance clubs although that song was better than most of the stuff played in such places. That song never did anything for me and it still doesn’t.

Fortunately, there are far better songs on “Lights Out.” The very next track, “I Need You Tonight” has a more traditional J Geils Band sound and the succeeding track is a little of the same. Then there is the rather spooky sounding ballad, “Gloomy Sunday,” which has a 1940s feel to it. It does show that Peter’s voice has some versatility to it. A better single for me would have been “Baby Please Don’t Let Me Go.” This has a more catchy commercial vibe to it and I bet you could dance to it if you’re into such things.

One big question that arises from the album is: Was Peter Wolf in a competition with Randy Newman as to who could get the most big names to accompany on their album? You only need to see the list of people on this album to discover what I mean. Heck, he even gets Mick Jagger to duet with him on the track “Crazy” and it sounds good. Possibly my favourite track on the album. I don’t know who of the many guitarists on the album does the guitar solo but it’s well done. My guess is that it’s Adrian Belew but don’t quote me on that. It could be The Cars guitarist Elliot Easton but to me, it doesn’t sound like his style, I could be wrong and usually am.

Track Listing:

  1. Lights Out
  2. I Need You Tonight
  3. Oo Ee Diddley Bop
  4. Gloomy Sunday
  5. Baby Please Don’t Let Me Go
  6. Crazy
  7. Poor Girls Heart
  8. Here Comes That Hurt Again
  9. Pretty Lady
  10. Mars Needs Women
  11. Billy Bigtime

Peter Wolf

Peter Wolf- conga, vocals

Robin Beck- vocals

Mick Jagger- vocals

Adrian Belew- guitar

Peter Bliss- guitar, backing vocals

Tony ‘Rocks’ Cowan- guitar

Alan Dawson- percussion

Elliot Easton- guitar

Eddie Gorodetsky- vocals, narration

Yogi Horton- percussion

Michael Jozun- bass, flute, guitar, percussion, horns, keyboards, backing vocals

Will Lee- bass, vocals

Leon Mobley- conga, conductor

P-Funk Horns- horn section

Rick Peppers- guitar

Randy Ross- guitar

G E Smith- guitar

Maurice Starr- bass, guitar, vocals

Ed Stasium- guitar, percussion

Rusty the Toejammer- scratches

Gordon Worthy- bass, conga, keyboards, vocals

I think that the theme of Peter Wolf’s “Lights Out” album is versatility. No two songs are the same yet at the same time, the album seems to flow. Whether its the more commercial sound of “Poor Girls Heart” to the humourous “Mars Needs Women” to the more blues funk closer “Billy Bigtime” there’s something here that everyone will like.

Next post: Rush- Grace Under Pressure

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Great Rock Albums of 1984: The Cars- Heartbeat City

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2017 by 80smetalman

Way back in the early days, when I posted about The Cars’ 1978 self titled debut album, Stone from Metalodyssey commented that The Cars were ahead of their time. I totally agree with this and will add to it by stating that they continued to be ahead of their time with their albums from the early 1980s. However, by 1984 time had caught up with them and what they were doing wasn’t so advanced. It seemed that many bands were influenced by them and were copying what they were doing. But no matter what other bands were trying to do, there will only be one band called The Cars and to paraphrase a quote at the time by former WWE manager, Lou Albano, they were “often imitated but never duplicated.” Proof in the pudding is their 1984 album, “Heartbeat City.”

‘Captain’ Lou Albano

What is so great about this album is while others may have been trying to copy The Cars, they didn’t do anything different from what they had done before. Yet, “Heartbeat City” still manages to sound fresh. Some will point to the biggest hit from the album, “Drive” and say that they did change. A few misguided individuals, who know not this band, have labelled them one hit wonders, WTF? My rebuttal comes with my favourite track on the album, “You Might Think” which was also a top ten hit for the band. For me to like a song that makes it into the top ten singles chart is saying something.

“Heartbeat City” is another successful marriage of hard rock and more synthesizer oriented sounds of the early 1980s performed by the band. A great example is the hidden gem that is “Stranger Eyes.” That is a song which is a foundation for the union I have just described. Then there are other tracks, some of them were even released as singles like “Magic” and “It’s Not the Night.” I do love Greg Hawkes keyboard work on the latter of the two although the I like the more hard rock on the former. Am I being wishy washy? Most probably but when an album can be so diversified and still catch and hold my attention, then it must be said that The Cars did something very right on this album.

Track Listing:

  1. Hello Again
  2. It’s Not the Night
  3. Magic
  4. Drive
  5. Stranger Eyes
  6. You Might Think
  7. I’s Not the Night
  8. Why Can’t I Have You
  9. I Refuse
  10. Heartbeat City

The Cars

Ric Ocasek- rhythm guitar, lead and backing vocals

Ben Orr- bass, backing vocals, lead vocals on tracks 4, 5 and 7

Elliot Easton- lead guitar, backing vocals

Greg Hawkes- keyboards, backing vocals

David Robinson- drums, percussion

Time might have caught up with The Cars but that didn’t stop them from doing what they did best and putting out a great album in “Heartbeat City.” Some have said that this was their best album, though I’ve always been partial to their first. However, I wouldn’t enter into any debate about it.

Next post: J Geils Band- You’re Gettin’ Even While I’m Gettin’ Odd

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1981: The Cars- Shake It Up

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 5, 2014 by 80smetalman

shakeitup

Often I have heard people declare that The Cars were ahead of their time and I say that it is decidedly so. The 1981 album “Shake It Up” proves it in a good sense. True, the album is a little more pop oriented than its predecessors but I can’t help thinking that they influenced a generation of synth pop bands that would come about in the middle of the decade. I’m not saying they sold out here, no way. It’s just those pop bands tried to imitate The Cars and not very well either.

If the tracks “Since Your Gone” and  “This Could be Love” were played at trendy 80s clubs in London, they would have gone down very well there and probably anywhere else in the world. These two songs could be fore runners to all of that and the best thing here is that they are far superior to any of that stuff. Greg Hawkes is a total keyboard wizard here. There are still much of the things they did well on those other album that are present on this one. “Victim of Love” is one of those songs and I have always liked the title track as well. “Cruiser” is a very good song as well. I guess that what I am trying to say here is that The Cars ushered in a new style of music without even realising it and did it by doing what they had always done very well.

Track Listing:

1. Since You’re Gone

2. Shake It Up

3. I’m Not the One

4. Victim of Love

5. Cruiser

6. A Dream Away

7. This Could be Love

8. Think It Over

9. Maybe Baby

The Cars

The Cars

Ric Ocasek- rhythm guitar, lead vocals

Elliot Easton- lead guitar, backing vocals

Greg Hawkes- keyboards, backing vocals

Benjamin Orr- bass, lead vocals

David Robinson- drums, percussion

The obvious conclusion I can draw here is that The Cars pioneered music into a new direction in the late 1970s and early 80s. They were doing lots of great new things before the pop bands took over only The Cars did it much better. Proof in the pudding is the “Shake It Up” album.

Next post: Diesel- What’s In a Tank?

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Great Rock Albums of 1980: The Cars- Panorama

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 25, 2013 by 80smetalman

220px-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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Great Rock Albums of 1979: The Cars- Candy O

Posted in 1978, 1979, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on August 14, 2012 by 80smetalman

 

Here it is, the long awaited visit to the second album by The Cars, “Candy O.” One term I will be batting about quite a bit here is “Sophmore Jinx.” I used it once before when I visited the “Don’t Look Back” album by Boston and I will use it a lot more when I visit the second album from any rock or metal act. Like the Boston album, this second album from The Cars definitely escapes the sophmore jinx. To me, “Candy O” is every bit as good as the first album.

When compared to the first album, there are lots of similarities between the two, however, “Candy O” still sounds fresh. The singles from the album “Let’s Go” and “It’s All I Can Do” sound unique in their own right and the entire album gives that familiar Cars sound while at the same time doesn’t get old. I don’t know any other band who can create a sound where the guitars and keyboards completely compliment each other better than The Cars. This shines through with every song on the album.

Track Listing:

1. Let’s Go

2. Since I Held You

3. It’s All I Can Do

4. Double Life

5. Shoo Be Doo

6. Candy O

7. Nightspots

8. You Can’t Hold On Too Long

9. Lust for Kicks

10. Got A Lot On My Head

11. Dangerous Type

The Cars

Ric Ocasek- vocals, rhythm guitar

Elliot Easton- lead guitar, backing vocals

Greg Hawkes- keyboards, tenor sax, backing vocals

Ben Orr- bass, vocals

David Robinson- drums, percussion

One thing that can never be omitted when talking about The Cars is the unique vocals of Ric Ocasek. As soon as I hear him, I know it’s definitely The Cars I’m listening to. This is another thing that makes this album so good and I now include Elliot Easton in my ever growing list of underrated guitarist. Okay, he doesn’t go into long cranking solos, but when you hear him play, it is done very well. “Candy O” is one of the more memorable albums from 1979.

Next post: Toto

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Great Rock Albums of 1978: The Cars

Posted in 1978, Music with tags , , , , , on February 19, 2012 by 80smetalman

Originally, I wasn’t going to visit this album until I reached the end of 1978 because I didn’t know of it until early 1979. It was sort of the same thing that happened to me in January 1978 with the “Out of the Blue” album by ELO. The first weekend in 1979, I was driving home from hockey practice (street hockey) and the song “My Best Friend’s Girl” came on the radio. That became my first official song I liked for the year. So you may be asking why am I visiting this album now and there are still a lot of great 1978 albums left to see. Well the honest answer is, “I don’t know.” I just felt the urge to visit this album here and now.

Like in the case of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Patty Smith, some ill informed numpties branded The Cars a punk band. I remember back in the year, many disco lovers simply shrugged it off as such and The Cars were probably easy targets for the narrow minded. Their look was something I would definitely call unique for 1978 as was the sound on the album. It was definitely something I had never heard before, but what I did know was that I liked it. Ric Ocasek has a vocal that is truly unique and at the same time familiar. Definitely his talents are underrated.

Track Listing:

1. Good Times Roll

2. My Best Friends Girl

3. Just What I Needed

4. I’m In Touch With Your World

5. Don’t Cha Stop

6. You’re All I Got Tonight

7. Bye Bye Love

8. Moving In Stereo

9. All Mixed Up

The Cars

Ric Ocasek- rhythm guitar, lead vocals

Elliot Easton- lead guitar, backing vocals

Benjamin Orr- bass, lead vocals

Greg Hawkes- keyboards, saxophone, percussion, backing vocals

David Robinson- drums, electric percussion, backing vocals

As I continued writing this post, I remembered my incentive for posting this album now. A few days ago, I listened to their classic hit “Just What I Needed” on the car’s CD player. Hearing that made me want to visit the album. Another song on the CD is also behind the next post. The debut album from The Cars established them as a serious act in the rock world. This is the first and arguably the best of many cool records from this memorable band.

Next post: Joe Walsh: But Seriously, Folks

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