The Cars- Number 282 on Rolling Stones’ 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
The Cars are one of those timeless American rock bands. If by timeless you mean similar to a lot of other bands out there. As a product of the “New Wave” movement of the 1970s, the Cars were just another pin in the proverbial cushion that is rock music. Just another band from Boston. Their fun brand of music spanning guitar-oriented rock and synthesizer-oriented pop has dominated the sounds of the airwaves for decades. If by airwaves you mean Circuit City commercials. In all seriousness, though, The Cars are a fun, albeit overrated band. You can basically sum them up with their 1978 debut album, simply titled The Cars
The Elektra Records of the 70s was hardly known for its production values. This is highly evidenced on this album: instruments are muddy, vocals are inaudible, etc. However, that just contributes to the overall appeal of The Cars
. It is, after all, a classic rock album. Aside from the production itself, the album on the whole is relatively solid. Catchy songs, with fun lyrics and simple instrumentation make The Cars
an easy listen.
“Good Times Roll” is the perfect intro for an album. Slow, steady, and full of laidback attitude, it’s easy to see why “Good Times” has become an iconic 70s rock song. Everything from the melody to the chorus of Good time roll!
make this one of the better songs on the album. A great way to warm you up? I think yes. “My Best Friend’s Girl” continues to roll with the vibe that “Good Times” started (nice word choice, eh?). Unfortunately, this little ditty about a lovesick guy wishing his former lady friend hadn’t left him for his pal is a little boring. It accents a common pitfall of the Cars’ debut album: dull repetition. This album is needs a kick in its ass. I mean, so what if the songs are good, if they put the listener to sleep? “Just What I Needed” is exactly what The Cars
needed. Whenever I hear this song, I can’t help but smile. It’s just so perfect. It’s musically simple, yet oh so effective. It’s louder, more rebellious guitar sounds wake you up and make you think “Oh, so this is what all the fuss was about.” ‘Just What I Needed” is The Cars’ greatest triumph, and is the strongest point of their debut album by far.
Unfortunately, “I’m in Touch With Your World” is something of a retread. It brings back the boring mood of this album. The song is just too slow, especially so considering the fact that it follows “Just What I Needed.” I moderately impressive guitar solo and some curious new synth effects can’t save this one from being a snooze-fest. “Don’t Cha Stop” picks things up again. As we reach the midway point of the album, things have become something of a mixture between boring and annoying. “Don’t Cha Stop” is the latter of those two. While it’s certainly more upbeat than the previous song, the annoying vocals and chorus, coupled with the childish sound effects drag it down. “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight” starts off strong, with a nice, reverberating guitar riff. The song pans out into a gritty melody with some of the best synthesizing on the album. “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight” is a much stronger song, and a welcoming savior to The Cars
’ air of repetition.
“Bye Bye Love” is another one of the gems from this album. Powerful music syncs excellently with the great lyrics. “Bye Bye Love” is the second best song on the album, following closely behind “Just What I Needed.” “Moving In Stereo” is a slow, ballad-like song. It’s one of those soft songs that embodies the late 70s/early 80s vibe of pop music. It’s not a very enjoyable song to listen to, but it’s well-structured, and impressively arranged. Now, the final question: Will The Cars end their debut album one a elating, uplifting note? Or will it be another doleful, monotonous drag? Thankfully enough, the former is true. “All Mixed Up,” while apathetic, is a great album ender. The lyrics, a wail of Leave it to me/everything
will be all right, along with a kickass saxophone solo. “All Mixed Up” is simply the perfect way The Cars
could have ended.
So, what do we have here? The Cars. Just another band from Boston. While their music was never terribly innovative, it can be quite enjoyable. Unfortunately, it can also be quite dull. In the end, though, The Cars’ debut album’s strong points outweigh it’s bad points. It’s nothing special, but it’s not bad either. Worth a listen? Sure. Worth money? Sure (but not too much). The Cars should probably just be experienced because of their legacy: commercials for all the fine department stores in your area. Hell, if that doesn’t scream “must hear” rock ‘n’ roll to you, then you must not know what you’re missing.