The Cars - The Cars - Review
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critics' view

In 1978 a band from Boston released their debut album and changed the sound of radio. Essentially, the Cars initiated what history recalls as the New Wave Era; more than Devo or even Blondie, the Cars triggered a deluge of skinny-tie imitators (and occasional innovators) armed with shiny synthesizers and n-n-n-nervous tick-tock rythms. The Cars had a unique, highly influential sound, but they weren't really groundbreaking innovators. What the Cars did was take elements from Kraftwerk, Iggy Pop (Bowie-era), David Bowie, Lou Reed, and especially Roxy Music, and make those non-commercial sounds more radio-friendly and accessible to the general public.

The Led Zeppelin IV of New Wave, nearly every song on this debut gets played on classic rock radio every six minutes. However, unlike those '70s dinosaurs, I've yet to grow sick of it. Having spent several years paying their dues in Boston bars, Ric and the boys had the time to come up with truckload of good, catchy tunes, and out of these 9 only two - "I'm In Touch With Your World" and the closer, "All Mixed Up" - are duds. The rest are all cool (in both senses of the term). Guitars are more prominent than they'd ever be again, and likewise the band sounds slightly more traditional and less overtly New Wave than they would in a short while - but the emphasis is on slightly. All the elements of the classic Cars sound are here; the Cars would keep on reworking their formula for another five albums, but as in many such cases their first shot was their best because it sounds the freshest and the least like formula.

Though Ric is the leader and writes all the songs, all of the members are integral. Bassist Ben Orr shares half the vocals and is impossible to tell apart from Ric except that he's slightly warmer and more radio-friendly. Drummer David Robinson provides that arena-ready booming drum sound and keeps the heartbeat steady at the same time. Elliot Easton tastefully inserts slick but slightly avante-garde guitar solos influenced primarily by Tom Verlaine and Robert Fripp (I'm not a guitar freak, but that's at least what my ears tell me). Greg Hawkes is responsible for the Cars' most famous sonic feature, those ever-present robotic-but-melodic keyboard textures. As for Ric himself, I can't tell whether he's trying to imitate Iggy or Lou or Bryan Ferry, but it comes out all Ric - his voice is as weird and obvious a mile away as his emaciated cheekbones.

The Cars' greatest hits: "Just What I Needed", "Let The Good Times Roll", "My Best Friend's Girl", "Moving In Stereo", "You're All I've Got Tonight", and "Bye Bye Love". There's no need to describe any of them since you probably already know them very well from constant exposure. The good one they don't play on the radio is "Don't Cha Stop", which is a really fast one about making out. I guess there's six-song limit to songs played off a single album on classic rock radio or else this one would be there also. Ric sings about girls and gets paranoid about them, as usual. Which is kind of funny since he married a real cutie.

George Starostin
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Run by Georgiy Sergeevich "George" Starostin (born 4 July 1976), a Russian linguist. He is the son of the late historical linguist Sergei Anatolyevich Starostin (1953–2005), and his work largely continues his father's. He is also known as a self-published music reviewer, author of the Only Solitaire Blog.
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