We’ve not often mentioned The Cars here; I was never an enthusiastic raver. The first album was played to death on the FM-Rock I listened to at the time of its release, so it was easy to ignore them, though they were the first of the New Wave to mine platinum. They were about the only New Wave band that was able to cross over to FM-Rock, somehow. I remember how Rolling Stone referred to them as the “American Roxy Music.” Well, if by Roxy Music you strictly mean “Siren,” then perhaps yes. If Greg Hawkes and Ric Ocasek weren’t such odd ducks [see above for proof], I suspect no one who frequents this blog would care too much. I think at one point I perfunctorily owned the first three Cars albums, but never played them much, so they were let go very early.
<insert 29 year gap here>
And thus it was until December of 2014, when my wife brought home the 1999 DLX RM of the first album by The Cars. She had been saying for years at the gym we attend how she wanted to hear more Cars when they would play on the sound system. I guess “The Cars” is like craft beer; the Cars album to have when you’re only having one. Since most of its tracks were airplay staples if not actual singles, it does play like a greatest hits album. The extensive liner notes humorously revealed that even the band jokingly called it this. My wife bought this DLX Rhino edition for a tiny fraction of the going price for said entity at the local mega Habitat For Humanity shop, which actually has an internal record store, manned by Warren (Govt. Mule) Haynes little brother, who should have known better than to price it at $4.00, but I digress. The second disc is packed with almost the whole album in demo form and a lot of unreleased songs. Pretty good listening that revealed that most of what Roy Thomas Baker broought to the plate was his penchant for tight backing harmonies. Lately I have been thinking, maybe now was the time to complete the trilogy of “classic Cars” with copies of “Candy-O” and “Panorama.” My timing could not be better.
The Cars: Candy-O DLX RM US CD 
- Let’s Go
- Since I Held You
- It’s All I Can Do
- Double Life
- Shoo Be Doo
- Night Spots
- You Can’t Hold On Too Long
- Lust For Kicks
- Got A Lot On My Head
- Dangerous Type
- Let’s Go – Monitor Mix
- Candy-O – Northern Studios Version
- Nights Spots – Northern Studios Version
- Lust for Kicks – Monitor Mix
- Dangerous Type – Northern Studios Version
- They Won’t See You
- That’s It – Let’s Go B-side
“Candy-O” is the recent 2016 Ocasek approved remaster from the “Elektra Years” 6xCD boxed set with an added seasoning of seven bonus tracks. I was wondering what they had in the vaults to make similar expanded editions like the first album, and while this is not a 2xCD set, the one non-LP B-side is here along with alternate mixes and one unreleased track [“They Won’t See You”]. For the rate these are going, it makes sense to buy these instead of a cheap copy of “Candy-O” in the used bins; my usual, stingy M.O. Besides, I have been jonesing to hear the magnificent Suicide in-dub madness of “Shoo-Be-Doo/Candy-O” for decades now. How I wish that The Cars could have been that brutal on a regular basis! I might have been a bigger fan.
The Cars: Panorama DLX RM US CD 
- Touch and Go
- Gimme Some Slack
- Don’t Tell Me No
- Getting Through
- Misfit Kid
- Down Boys
- You Wear Those Eyes
- Running Up To You
- Up and Down
- Shooting For You – Previously Unreleased
- Be My Baby – Previously Unreleased
- The Edge – Previously Unreleased
- Don’t Go To Pieces – Don’t Tell Me No B-side
It’s funny, but just looking at the track listing for “Panorama,” I can recall each of these songs after a seriously long time having not heard them. I guess that’s a testament to the quality of this album, which only went 1x platinum in the day, as opposed to their first two albums. No demo versions here, but three of the four bonus tracks are unreleased songs [better] and the sole non-LP B-side from this album period. These beauties ship on July 28th and retail for a pittance. Amazon has the CDs for $11.99 each. Amazon DLs will cost you 50¢ more! There is also neovinyl with all of the songs spread out across three sides with an etched side four of LP #2. No word on what has been etched onto the dead wax. Even those are not stupidly priced; a reasonable $22.49 each at Amazon. If you want to order any of this, they should be widely available at your choice of retailer.
– 30 –
The Cars debut album…one of my first “first loves.” True story – my freshman/sophomore years at college in upstate NY I was labelled a punk by fellow classmates because I used to blast Cars and Cheap Trick albums (1978/79). Yeah, those Grateful Dead/Doobie Bros/prog rock loving yahoos thought the Cars and Cheap Trick were punk. God knows what they thought when I started buying Clash, Ramones et al, let alone when I discovered Adam and the Ants and thought I looked sharp with a white stripe painted across my nose!
Taffy – I preferred weirder stuff, but for something that sold that well, we all could have done a lot worse. Like I said, “The Cars” plays like a greatest hits album. Shocking admission: I was always a sucker for their top selling “Drive.” Because the tune was so redolent of the vibe of 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love;” one of my favorite 70s singles.
BIG FAN of the first three. No use whatsoever for any of the rest except the guilty pleasure of “Tonight She Comes” from the first hits collection. One of Eliot Easton’s greatest guitar solos ever.
Mr. Ware – So I take it that those DLX RMs are in your sights? I suspect that once they hit the market $6.99/ea. from Amazon dealers may be common.
Yeah, I reckon they’ll go on the wish list. Not that I’d be in a huge rush…
Heh. Having grown up in Massachusetts in the 70s and 80s, I distinctly remember that first Cars album coming out and OH MAN did New England love it to death. They were right up there with Aerosmith, Boston and J Geils Band as local boys done good. Not to mention they got a prime spot on the classic ‘Over the Edge’ soundtrack with a few tracks from it!
Jon Chaisson – Ah! Thanks for reminding me about the “Over The Edge” OST. I actually read more about that Jonathan Kaplan film years after the fact than when it came out. If it were really reflective of 1979 it would have had less Cheap Trick and more Van Halen.
Yep, Mr. Ware has it just right. First three albums are must haves…and then…move away slowly from the cd racks…Monk you are right in assessing that the quirkiness in their New Wave sound was a big draw to the band for me. I heard the same attempts at dark, brutal (GREAT DESCRIPTOR MONK) pop songs, but the twisted nature of the band would only let that go so far. I have a play list that features all the darkness and brooding from those 3 albums. It gets played while driving down the highway often.
Echorich – Your dark edit playlist of The Cars first three sounds like a great idea. I may try my hand at that after buying these.
For me actually only ‘Shake It Up’ rivals ‘The Cars’ – imho ‘Candy-O’ and esp. ‘Panorama’ sound to rushed due to the early succcess.
slur – I have only heard the two singles from “Shake It Up;” the title track and “Since You’re Gone” sounded inconclusive to these ears. Anyone else care to chime in?
My favorite song from Shake It Up is “Cruiser.” It was when the album was released, and still is to this day. Ben Orr could do sensitive, but he could also to tough. “Cruiser” squarely falls in the latter category.
zoo – Well… Should I pick up a cheap used copy [heretofore abbreviated at CUC] of “Shake It Up,” in my travels then? Perhaps I have been missing out?
If it’s a CUC, then definitely!
Never mind, you really should give it a try, the whola album works pretty coherent, No american new wave collection would be complete without it ; )
“This Could Be Love” f,e, is an instant classic. If you’re also interested in the more synth based side you should give Ric Ocasek’s 1982 ‘Beatitude’ and the singles & remixes a listen and eventually Greg Hawkes solo album (which is mere a so so one for me),
slur – As I was a Trouser Press subscriber, I got the magazine with the flexidiscs. I did hear “Jimmy Jimmy” in that way from “Beatitude.” I have not seen that one in ages, and never on CD. [checks] Ah. I see why. It only got a CD release in 1997 and twenty years later it’s a high prices OOP disc at the $40-50 level. Far too rich for my blood-slash-level of fandom. I’ve not heard much good about the “Niagra Falls” album but as its covered in Eurostyle Bold Extended typography, I’d have to give it a try! Can’t say I’ve ever seen a copy. When looking up the cover it rang zero bells with me.
I was trying to get ‘Niagara Falls’ for a reasonable price here for some years and had maybe too high hopes for it, it has it’s highlight with ‘Voyage Into Space’ but mostly it is pretty average and not too special (sadly).
I’ve seen ‘Beatitude’ on CD sometimes for reasonable prices but I could resist to buy it as there is nothing special on it compared to the LP.
Another MA resident (Witch City division) who grew up w/the Cars back in the day. “Since You’re Gone” is one of my fave rave Cars songs. I’m happy w/the Rhino Just What I Needed anthology, metalflake cover and all
diskojoe – That song did have killer sustain [was it e-bow?] from Elliott Easton.
i like the middle era of the cars.
of course the deluxe versions of ‘shake it up’, and ‘heartbeat city’ are out,
missing a few mixes here and there. so if you want to keep up with the
rest of the albums, you might want to pick those up also.
however, i will state emphatically, the cars were never a ‘new wave’ band,
they were only rock, but pretended to look new wave. they are not mentioned
on many new wave compilations, rarely if ever release mixes (except for ‘hello again’),
and as a practice dont fit in an with any other bands of the era. like the talking head,
b 52s, devo, etc. they are pure pop rock.