The Cars (album)

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This article is about the eponymous album by the Cars. For albums with similar titles, see Cars (disambiguation).
The Cars
Studio album by The Cars
Released June 6, 1978 (1978-06-06)
Recorded February 1978, AIR Studios, London
Genre Rock, new wave
Length 35:40
Label Elektra
Producer Roy Thomas Baker
The Cars chronology
The Cars
(1978)
Candy-O
(1979)
Singles from The Cars
  1. "Just What I Needed"
    Released: May 29, 1978
  2. "My Best Friend's Girl"
    Released: October 10, 1978
  3. "Good Times Roll"
    Released: February 20, 1979

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.

Background[edit]

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.[1] 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.)[1] 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.[1]

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.[1] 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."[1]

Music and lyrics[edit]

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."[1] 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."[1]

Cover art[edit]

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."[2]

Unlike many of The Cars' album covers, the cover for The Cars was designed by the record company, rather than drummer David Robinson.[2] 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."[2] Guitarist Elliot Easton expressed dislike for "that big grinning face," stating, "Man, I got tired of that cover."[2]

The cover model is Natalya Medvedeva, a Russian-born model, singer, writer and journalist.[citation needed]

Release[edit]

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.[3] The record was also ranked number 4 on Billboard's "Top Albums of the Year" chart for 1979.[4]

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.[5]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[6]
Robert Christgau B+[7]
Pitchfork 5.7/10[8]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[9]

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.[6] 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."[6] 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."[9] 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."[9] Rolling Stone also ranked the album No. 279 in its "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list.[citation needed] 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."[7]

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."[1]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Ric Ocasek, except where noted. 

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Vocals Length
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
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Vocals Length
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
No. Title Writer(s) Vocals Length
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

Personnel[edit]

The Cars
Production

Chart performance[edit]

Album

Title Released Peak Chart Position, Weeks On Chart
US UK AU NZ
The Cars June 1978 18 139 29 15 35 42 5 85

Singles

Title Released Peak Chart Position, Weeks On Chart
US UK AU NZ NL
"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

Notes:
line through box = did not chart
empty box = not released

Certifications[edit]

Organization Level Date
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

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Milano, Brett. Just What I Needed: The Cars Anthology. Rhino. 
  2. ^ a b c d The Cars interview[full citation needed]
  3. ^ Billboard March 24, 1979: 139
  4. ^ "Top Albums of the Year". Billboard (Prometheus Global Media): TIA-12. December 22, 1979. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  5. ^ Ray Broadus Browne; Pat Browne (2001). The Guide to United States Popular Culture. Popular Press. pp. 139–. ISBN 978-0-87972-821-2. 
  6. ^ a b c Greg Prato. "The Cars". Allmusic. Retrieved February 17, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (September 4, 1978). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  8. ^ Ryan Schreiber (April 20, 1999). "The Cars". Pitchfork. Retrieved February 17, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c Kit Rachlis (June 17, 1997). "The Cars". rollingstone.com. Archived from the original on July 9, 2008. Retrieved February 17, 2012. 

External links[edit]