Deep Album Cuts Vol. 76: The Cars
















BrainDead, the CBS series I've been raving about all summer, features a recurring plot point in which people whose brains are controlled by alien bugs are all constantly listening to "You Might Think," the 1984 hit by The Cars that won the first VMA for Video of the Year. So that kind of got me on a Cars trip, although the band's self-titled debut has always been a favorite of mine. It's one of those insane blockbuster albums where the majority of the songs, 6 of 9 tracks, are rock radio staples. Their sound is such classic new wave, down to the anxious keyboards and gawky vocals, but they just wrote these massive anthems that instantly put them into the classic rock canon like few of their contemporaries. And though no one of their subsequent albums is quite on that level, they managed to have a pretty solid career for the next decade before disbanding (and then reuniting for a decent new album in 2011).

The Cars Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. Don't Cha Stop
2. Night Spots
3. I Refuse
4. A Dream Away
5. I'm In Touch With Your World
6. Panorama
7. Heartbeat City
8. Shoo Be Doo
9. Ta Ta Wayo Wayo
10. Free
11. All Mixed Up
12. Down Boys
13. Cruiser
14. Candy-O
15. Running To You
16. It's Not The Night
17. Everything You Say
18. You Can't Hold On Too Long
19. This Could Be Love
20. Go Away

Tracks 1, 5 and 11 from The Cars (1978)
Tracks 2, 8, 14 and 18 from Candy-O (1979)
Tracks 6, 12 and 15 from Panorama (1980)
Tracks 4, 13 and 19 from Shake It Up (1981)
Tracks 3, 7 and 16 from Heartbeat City (1984)
Tracks 9, 17 and 20 from Door To Door (1987)
Track 11 from Move Like This (2011)

The Cars have a lot of songs that were never really released as singles but get way too much radio play to be considered deep cuts -- "You're All I've Got Tonight," "Bye Bye Love" and "Moving In Stereo" from the debut, and "Dangerous Type" from Candy-O. "Cruiser" from Shake It Up got to #37 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart, but I'd never heard it outside the album, so it felt like fair game to me.

I divided this playlist down the middle with the first 10 songs being sung by Ric Ocasek, who formed the band in Boston but grew up in Baltimore, and tracks 11-20 being sung by the late Benjamin Orr, who passed away in 2000. And it's not because those groups of songs sound different from each other -- in fact Ocasek wrote pretty much the band's entire catalog (with occasional co-writes from keyboardist Greg Hawkes). But Orr sounds like a more conventional rock frontman, while Ocasek's weird nervous hiccup of a voice is kind of the band's signature sound, and I think they both sound pretty great in their own way, I'm glad Ocasek delegated a good number of songs to the bassist.

I've always found it funny how people love to make a big deal of the fact that the band's biggest Hot 100, "Drive" was sung by Orr and not the band's usual frontman, since Orr had been singing lead on songs on every album, including the biggest hit from their debut, "Just What I Needed." So the only thing novel about him singing "Drive" was, I think, that it was the video era and people actually saw that it wasn't Ric Ocasek singing. Move Like This was a fine reunion record, but it certainly couldn't be an ideal Cars album without Benjamin Orr's voice.

The Cars, like many ace singles bands, rarely left their very best songs on the deep cuts, but I was surprised at how many absolute killers I found, particularly "Down Boys." There were also some surprisingly harsh, almost proto-industrial keyboard driven tracks that I really dug, like the weird 90-second "Shoo Be Doo." And I have to say that the two albums from the band's original run that had way less chart success than the others, Panorama and Door To Door, hold up about as well as the others. The Cars were nominated for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame for the first time last year and didn't get in, but I hope they will sometime soon.

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
Vol. 27: Jackson Browne
Vol. 28: Usher
Vol. 29: Mary J. Blige
Vol. 30: The Black Crowes
Vol. 31: Ne-Yo
Vol. 32: Blink-182
Vol. 33: One Direction
Vol. 34: Kelly Clarkson
Vol. 35: The B-52's
Vol. 36: Ludacris
Vol. 37: They Might Be Giants
Vol. 38: T-Pain
Vol. 39: Snoop Dogg
Vol. 40: Ciara
Vol. 41: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Vol. 42: Dwight Yoakam
Vol. 43: Demi Lovato
Vol. 44: Prince
Vol. 45: Duran Duran
Vol. 46: Rihanna
Vol. 47: Janet Jackson
Vol. 48: Sara Bareilles
Vol. 49: Motley Crue
Vol. 50: The Who
Vol. 51: Coldplay
Vol. 52: Alicia Keys
Vol. 53: Stone Temple Pilots
Vol. 54: David Bowie
Vol. 55: The Eagles
Vol. 56: The Beatles
Vol. 57: Beyonce
Vol. 58: Beanie Sigel
Vol. 59: A Tribe Called Quest
Vol. 60: Cheap Trick
Vol. 61: Guns N' Roses
Vol. 62: The Posies
Vol. 63: The Time
Vol. 64: Gucci Mane
Vol. 65: Violent Femmes
Vol. 66: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Vol. 67: Maxwell
Vol. 68: Parliament-Funkadelic
Vol. 69: Chevelle
Vol. 70: Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio
Vol. 71: Fantasia
Vol. 72: Heart
Vol. 73: Pitbull
Vol. 74: Nas
Vol. 75: Monica
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