Wednesday, March 22


The first album I ever bought was the Cars' Heartbeat City. On vinyl. In 1984. I was 14. I loved it.

Alas, the band would break up just four years later. Since then, singer/bassist Benjamin Orr died of cancer in 2000 and lead singer/songwriter Ric Ocasek released a string of little-heard solo albums and carved out a successful career as a producer (Weezer, Hole, Bad Religion) (not to mention tended to his still-miraculously-intact marriage to model Paulina Porizkova - 16 years and counting!).

Now, following the dubious leads of such once-seminal bands as the Beach Boys, Doors, and Queen, the Cars have re-formed as "The New Cars," with Todd Rundgren stepping into Ocasek's chrome, Art Deco loafers. In truth, of the original band members, only lead guitarist Elliot Easton and keyboardist Greg Hawkes have signed on to this "new" enterprise. Not that those guys are exactly slouches. Easton's guitar work (especially on the early records) was an underrated strength, and Hawkes' stylish synthesizer lines were one of the things that drew me to the group in the first place.

Still, though, one has to wonder how successful (creatively and commercially) this new line-up can possibly be. (And how many Brinks trucks did they have to back up to Ocasek's crypt to convince him to sign over the rights to the band name?). Well, time will tell.

For now, perhaps a little compare & contrast is in order...

[MP3] "Not Tonight"/The New Cars [2006]

[MP3] "You're All I've Got Tonight"/The Cars [1978]

[MP3] "Tonight She Comes"/The Cars [1985]

[MP3] "It's Not the Night"/The Cars [1984]


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