[…continued from last post]
After the last 90 seconds of “Double Life” chugged away in a static fashion, there was a violent crossfade to a song with a much more frantic tempo. “Shoo Be Doo” was an homage to Suicide; built upon a jittery rhythm box after it had obviously hit the amphetamines. Singer [and number one Suicide fan] Ocasek delivered his terse, haiku-like lyrics slathered in the slapback echo beloved of rockabilly singers… and Alan Vega. The brief, shocking number seemed more like a dub of a Cars song by Suicide than a song itself. With “Shoo Be Doo,” the band clearly slammed their collective feet down hard on the pedal and accelerated to a strange place where they would never venture again. But for those 92 seconds, it was pure thrill ride! The insane dub reverb loop [possibly courtesy of an AMS DMX 15-80 digital delay] of Ocasek freaking out at the song’s climax repeated four times before the hard splice into the album’s title track sounded so inhuman; so thrilling, that it became the standard against which I would forever measure The Cars. And ultimately, find them wanting.
“Candy-O” was a sizzler of a song that managed to follow on to “Shoo Be Doo” and not sound deflated. Which is quite a feat! In fact, this taut little number should have been a single instead of the devastating deep cut that it was. Ben Orr’s vocals were dryly distant and I loved how it was built on a sequencer loop. The impact of Moroder two year earlier having obviously even touched upon forward thinking US rock bands like The Cars. The squelchy synth loops suggested DEVO, and not for the first time with this band. Best of all was the frantic solo that Elliot Easton laid down in the two bars allotted to him. He sounded like he was gleefully channeling Eddie Van Halen in a vastly different context. The cold ending brought “side one” to an abrupt end but not a second was wasted on this CD as we moved immediately to the next song.
“Night Spots” continued the incredible seam that had begun in the middle of “side one” to dive deep in to the dark heart of this album. The synth riff rondo was a grabber and the vibe here suggested the dark flipside to “Let’s Go” which had begun the album. But that was just kids playing. The minor key synth leads from Greg Hawkes, as well as other dissonant elements poking through the music suggested something more adult and dangerous. The thrill of night clubbing but with the degradation and fall from grace just around the bend foreshadowed in the tense music. If The Cars were America’s answer to Roxy Music as some have posited, then this was their “For Your Pleasure” track. All matte black and chrome to contrast with the brightly lit cover. The clouds had to break, and they did for “You Can’t Hold On Too Long,” the least interesting song here since “Since I Held You.”
Fortunately, the winsome “Lust For Kicks” sported not only a great title, but a great Farfisa-like mono synth line courtesy of Hawkes. It’s telling that the generation of rock keyboardists who were born in the 50s and were teens when the Farfisa organ ruled garage rock for about a year and a half, came of age as musicians among the Emersons and Wakemans who ruled the 70s. Once those dinosaurs were deposed, the New Wave that followed was most definitely built upon the cheap cheerful Farfisa sound of the mid 60s. Players like Steve Nieve, Johnny Fingers, and even Hawkes all arrived there in ’78-’79 and this keyboard sound was the clarion call of New Wave. Perhaps the least Prog manner to coax sound out of a keyboard. I know that was one of the factors that attracted me to New Wave since “96 Tears” was my number one childhood rock song.
Next: …Gimme Danger