The Cars (album)
|Studio album by The Cars|
|Released||June 6, 1978|
|Recorded||February 1978, AIR Studios, London|
|Genre||Rock, new wave|
|Producer||Roy Thomas Baker|
|The Cars chronology|
|Singles from The Cars|
The Cars is the eponymous debut studio album by the American new wave rock band the Cars. It was released on June 6, 1978 on Elektra Records. The album, which featured the three charting singles "Just What I Needed","My Best Friend's Girl", and "Good Times Roll," as well as an abundance of radio hits, was a major success for the band, remaining on the charts for 139 weeks. It has been recognized as one of the band's greatest albums.
Formed in Boston during 1977, The Cars consisted of Ric Ocasek, Benjamin Orr, Elliot Easton, David Robinson, and Greg Hawkes, all of whom had been in and out of multiple bands throughout the 1970s. After becoming a club staple, the band recorded a multitude of demos in the late 1970s. Some of these songs later appeared in finished form on The Cars, such as "Just What I Needed" and "My Best Friend's Girl", while others were saved for a later release, such as "Leave or Stay" and "Ta Ta Wayo Wayo" (both of which later saw release on their 1987 album Door to Door.) The demos for "Just What I Needed" and "My Best Friend's Girl" were often played on Boston radio by DJ Maxanne Sartori, giving the band frequent airplay.
Both Arista and Elektra attempted to sign the band, but in the end, Elektra was chosen, due to its lack of new wave acts, allowing the band to stand out more than they would have had they signed with the new wave-heavy Arista. David Robinson said of the choice, "Here they had The Eagles and Jackson Browne, and along comes this crazy Boston band who wanted a black-and-white photo collage on their cover."
Music and lyrics
The Cars featured a large amount of technology on many of its tracks, due to the band's appreciation for new equipment. David Robinson said, "We'd always get the latest stuff from music stores even if it would be obsolete in two months. It reached the point where I'd have 10 or 12 foot switches to hit during a short set." The album also is notable for front-man Rick Ocasek's use of irony and sarcasm. Keyboardist Greg Hawkes said, "There was definitely a little self-conscious irony in there. We started out wanting to be electric and straight-ahead rock, and it kind of turned into an artier kind of thing."
David Robinson said in an interview that he "had designed a very different album cover [for The Cars] that cost $80.00 to design." He continued, "I remember the price exactly. It was completely finished and everything, but it was a little more bizarre than the cover that they had in mind, so they changed some of it because of copyright problems and put it in as the inner sleeve. But I think that was way more how we envisioned who we were then."
Unlike many of The Cars' album covers, the cover for The Cars was designed by the record company, rather than drummer David Robinson. The cover was not well liked by the members of the band, however. Robinson said, "I thought that when the Elektra came out it was way too slick. The pictures of us I didn't like." Guitarist Elliot Easton expressed dislike for "that big grinning face," stating, "Man, I got tired of that cover."
With the popular singles "Just What I Needed" and "My Best Friend's Girl" getting heavy airplay on AOR radio stations, the album sold one million copies by the end of the year and steadily climbed the charts. It peaked at number 18 on the Billboard 200 chart in March 1979. The record was also ranked number 4 on Billboard's "Top Albums of the Year" chart for 1979.
The Cars remained on the album chart for 139 weeks with four more tracks: "Good Times Roll" (the third and final single from the album), "You're All I've Got Tonight", "Bye Bye Love", and "Moving in Stereo", all of which became radio favorites.
Critically, the album was well received. Allmusic reviewer Greg Prato described it as "a genuine rock masterpiece", and that "all nine tracks are new wave/rock classics" in their retrospective review. Prato continued, saying "With flawless performances, songwriting, and production (courtesy of Queen alumni Roy Thomas Baker), The Cars' debut remains one of rock's all-time classics." Rolling Stone magazine critic Kit Rachlis said "The pop songs are wonderful," continuing that "Easy and eccentric at the same time, all are potential hits." Rachlis, however, said that " The album comes apart only when it becomes arty and falls prey to producer Roy Thomas Baker's lacquered sound and the group's own penchant for electronic effects." Rolling Stone also ranked the album No. 279 in its "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list. Robert Christgau said, "Ric Ocasek writes catchy, hardheaded-to-coldhearted songs eased by wryly rhapsodic touches, the playing is tight and tough, and it all sounds wonderful on the radio. But though on a cut-by-cut basis Roy Thomas Baker's production adds as much as it distracts, here's hoping the records get rawer."
Elliot Easton said of the album, "We used to joke that the first album should be called The Cars Greatest Hits. We knew that a lot of great bands fall through the cracks. But we were getting enough feedback from people we respected to know that we were on the right track."
All songs written and composed by Ric Ocasek, except where noted.
|1.||"Good Times Roll"||Ocasek||3:44|
|2.||"My Best Friend's Girl"||Ocasek||3:44|
|3.||"Just What I Needed"||Benjamin Orr||3:44|
|4.||"I'm in Touch with Your World"||Ocasek||3:31|
|5.||"Don't Cha Stop"||Ocasek||3:01|
|6.||"You're All I've Got Tonight"||Ocasek||4:13|
|7.||"Bye Bye Love"||Orr||4:14|
|8.||"Moving in Stereo"||Greg Hawkes, Ocasek||Orr||4:41|
|9.||"All Mixed Up"||Orr||4:14|
|1999 re-issue bonus tracks|
|10.||"Good Times Roll" (live)||Ocasek||3:39|
|11.||"My Best Friend's Girl" (demo)||Ocasek||3:52|
|12.||"Just What I Needed" (demo)||Orr||3:27|
|13.||"I'm in Touch With Your World" (demo)||Ocasek/Orr||3:28|
|14.||"Don't Cha Stop" (demo)||Ocasek||3:19|
|15.||"You're All I've Got Tonight" (demo)||Ocasek||4:05|
|16.||"Bye Bye Love" (demo)||Orr||4:07|
|17.||"Moving in Stereo" (demo)||Hawkes, Ocasek||Ocasek||5:02|
|18.||"All Mixed Up" (demo)||Ocasek||4:50|
|19.||"They Won't See You" (demo)||Ocasek||3:56|
|20.||"Take What You Want" (demo)||Ocasek||6:04|
|21.||"Wake Me Up" (demo)||Orr||3:52|
|22.||"You Just Can't Push Me" (demo)||Orr||3:27|
|23.||"Hotel Queenie" (demo)||Ocasek||3:08|
- The Cars
- Ric Ocasek – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
- Elliot Easton – lead guitar, backing vocals
- Greg Hawkes – keyboards, percussion, saxophone, backing vocals
- Benjamin Orr – lead vocals, bass
- David Robinson – drums, percussion, electronic percussion, backing vocals
- The Cars – arrangement
- Roy Thomas Baker – production
- Geoff Workman – recording, engineering
- Nigel Walker – engineering
- George Marino – mastering
|Title||Released||Peak Chart Position, Weeks On Chart|
|The Cars||June 1978||18 139||29 15||35 42||5 85|
|Title||Released||Peak Chart Position, Weeks On Chart|
|"Just What I Needed"||May 1978||27 17||17 10||96 1||38 2||–|
|"My Best Friend's Girl"||October 1978||35 15||3 10||67 10||–||40 4|
|"Good Times Roll"||March 1979||41 10|
line through box = did not chart
empty box = not released
|RIAA – U.S.||Gold||October 16, 1978|
|RIAA – U.S.||Platinum||December 27, 1978|
|CRIA – Canada||Platinum||June 1, 1979|
|CRIA – Canada||Double Platinum||June 1, 1979|
|RIAA – U.S.||6x Platinum||April 5, 1995|
- Milano, Brett. Just What I Needed: The Cars Anthology. Rhino.
- The Cars interview[full citation needed]
- Billboard March 24, 1979: 139
- "Top Albums of the Year". Billboard (Prometheus Global Media): TIA-12. December 22, 1979. ISSN 0006-2510.
- Ray Broadus Browne; Pat Browne (2001). The Guide to United States Popular Culture. Popular Press. pp. 139–. ISBN 978-0-87972-821-2.
- Greg Prato. "The Cars". Allmusic. Retrieved February 17, 2012.
- Christgau, Robert (September 4, 1978). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved April 29, 2013.
- Ryan Schreiber (April 20, 1999). "The Cars". Pitchfork. Retrieved February 17, 2012.
- Kit Rachlis (June 17, 1997). "The Cars". rollingstone.com. Archived from the original on July 9, 2008. Retrieved February 17, 2012.