The Cars Deep Tracks

It’s time for a critical re-evaluation and subsequent ranking of The Cars discography, folks. Rick Ocasek’s crew of misfits put out a solid stream of hit albums between the years of 1978 and 1984, their career culminating in the disaster that was 1987’s Door To Door, before reforming and releasing a fairly competent album in 2011. But it’s the early stuff that gets the juices flowing and always will. I know some people lump them in with Blondie, etc., but I’ve always kind of considered them the younger, more successful new wave cousins to the Ramones. Think about it: The Ramones were just as influenced by The Beach Boys as they were The Stooges and MC5, and The Cars were smitten with Suicide/Velvet Underground and…The Beach Boys. Also, The Ramones tend to get overshadowed by their Brit cousins The Sex Pistols, and The Cars get just plain forgotten.

The difference between the Ramones career and The Cars’ Career is that the later actually sold records, lots and lots of records, especially their poppier later ones, a fact that I think has hurt their overall ‘cool quotient’ irreparably. Or maybe not so irreparably, if someone gets off their fat corporate ass and launches a proper reissue campaign of their first 5 albums!

Ranking The Cars is easy. Just start with the 1978 self titled debut and work your way up to 1984’s Heartbeat City. The thing you may find as you’re revisiting these is that the ‘deep’ album tracks are pretty damn weird, and cool, and a whole lot less familiar than their ginormous hit singles. You get a whole alternative viewpoint on the band by delving deep. Here are a few recommendations of the “alternative Cars” from each of those five albums:

the carsThe Cars: This debut has the first hits from the band and it’s an album they, jokingly, refer to as “our first greatest hits album”, and that’s no understatement. Key Deep Tracks: “Im In Touch With Your World”, “Moving In Stereo”, “All Mixed Up”.

candy o candy oCandy O: This is the first Cars album I bought so it remains a special one for me. Let’s Go is the sole North American hit from the album, and the cover remains as iconic as ever. Key Deep Tracks:“Shoo Be Doo”, “Candy O”

panoramaPanorama: My 2nd least favorite Cars album, but it still contains at least one classic with Touch And Go. Key Deep Tracks: “Panorama”, “Misfit Kid”

shake it upShake It Up: I remembered this as the Cars most pop oriented effort, but I gave it a spin recently and have changed my mind. It is most definitely their weirdest, most experimental album, more in common with Suicide than The Modern Lovers. A decidedly more synthesizer oriented affair than anything else they’ve done, but holds up tremendously well thank in part to some of the best songs Ocasek ever wrote. Key Deep Tracks: “I’m Not The One” “A Dream Away”

heartbeatHeartbeat City: Ok, so everything on here is pretty poppy. Nothing subversive or alternative here…but still pretty decent.