Thursday, June 6, 2013

the cars

The Cars blazed a trail with ambition and attitude to create the new wave power pop sensation of their classic debut.  Richard Otcasek (Ric Ocasek) and Benjamin Orzechowski (Benjamin Orr) met in Columbus, Ohio and began performing together there before relocating to Boston.  They met studio musician Greg Hawkes and formed folk rock group Milkwood with guitarist Jas Goodkind, releasing an album 'How's the Weather?'; but the group broke up when the album failed to chart.  Ocasek and Orr continued to play in clubs around the Boston area as a duo as well as forming Richard and the Rabbits and then Cap'n Swing with Elliot Easton.  Unhappy with the musical direction of those groups; Ocasek, Orr, and Easton decided to form a new group with David Robinson from the Modern Lovers.  Hawkes returned to play keyboards; and Robinson came up with a name for the new group:  The Cars.  Ocasek quipped:  "It's so easy to spell; it doesn't have a 'z' on the end; it's real authentic. It's pop art, in a sense."

The Cars toured extensively in local clubs and honing their sound.  They caught the attention of Maxanne Sartori, a DJ at Boston's WBCN rock station, who played their demo recording of "Just What I Needed" which became one of the station's most requested songs.  The airplay led to a deal with Elektra Records.  Their eponymous debut was recorded at AIR Studios in London with producer Roy Thomas Baker.  The sessions featured Ric Ocasek on lead vocals and rhythm guitar; Elliot Easton on lead guitar and backing vocals; Greg Hawkes on keyboards, percussion, saxophone, and backing vocals; Benjamin Orr on bass and lead vocals; and David Robinson on drums, percussion, electronic percussion, and backing vocals. 

'The Cars' took a long slow ride to number thirty-five in Australia, twenty-nine in the UK, eighteen in the US, and number five in New Zealand.  The album sold over a million copies by the end of the year and has since been certified platinum six times over. Ocasek remembers:   "We were just touring a lot after that first album and the record took off kind of slow, which was kind of nice.  It was at radio stations sporadically.  It wasn't like everybody played the single and then it was mayhem.  It was kind of like Texas played the single and then a couple of months later Chicago jumped on it. the first part of it took about a year.  And I think the more it got popular, the touring...people were saying that we were opening for other people and then it started to change and then people were opening for us."

"Good Times Roll"  hit seventy-four in Canada, forty-one in the US, and number five in France. 


"My Best Friend's Girl"  went to sixty-seven in Australia, fifty-five in Canada, forty in the Netherlands, thirty-five in the US, and number three in the UK.

"Just What I Needed"  became the band's breakthrough hit, going to ninety-six in Australia, thirty-eight in New Zealand, thirty-five in Canada, twenty-seven in the US, seventeen n the UK, and number four in France.

'The Cars' 

full album:

All tracks written by Ric Ocasek, except where noted.

Side one
1. "Good Times Roll" vocals:  Ocasek 3:44
2. "My Best Friend's Girl"  vocals:  Ocasek 3:44
3. "Just What I Needed"  vocals:  Benjamin Orr 3:44
4. "I'm in Touch with Your World"  vocals:  Ocasek 3:31
5. "Don't Cha Stop"  vocals:  Ocasek 3:01
Side two
6. "You're All I've Got Tonight"  vocals:  Ocasek 4:13
7. "Bye Bye Love"  vocals:  Orr 4:14
8. "Moving in Stereo" (Greg Hawkes, Ocasek)  vocals:  Orr 4:41
9. "All Mixed Up"  vocals:  Orr 4:14

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