Revisiting the Expanded Editions

On March 30, 2018, Rhino Records released expanded editions of the fourth and fifth albums in The Cars catalog: Shake It Up and Heartbeat City. I wrote a review about SIU for Standing Room Only not long after the album set came out, and I started an article on HBC, but then I had the honor of jumping into the Let’s Go! book project with Joe Milliken and almost all other writing projects were (eagerly, I confess) pushed off to the side for a time.

Now that things have slowed down a little I’ve been dusting off my piles and I finally got around to completing my thoughts on HBC, just in time for the one year anniversary of its release. As Joe says, better late than never. I’m thankful for his philosophy, particularly since it is HIS website I wrote these for! Haha!

So here are the links to these two most recent scribblings (photos courtesy of spj).


Click here to read all about the Shake It Up expanded edition, and …




Click here to check out my thoughts on the Heartbeat City reissue.



If you’d like to hear what I had to say about the previously released expanded editions, start with this blog post: And “Panorama” Makes Three! I also covered the Agora album here: Live At The Agora, 1978.  While you’re down that rabbit hole, be sure to check out Standing Room Only‘s Facebook page for more great articles about the arts and entertainment scene in the greater New England area and across the nation!

Oh… a little P.S. The article I wrote about the Agora album is the one that was quoted at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last summer. I’m still giddy over it!

my writing at the rrhof
Photo courtesy of @night_spots

5 thoughts on “Revisiting the Expanded Editions

  1. Dear Donna
    Thank you for the wonderful information 🙂 and how thrilling to read that your article was quoted about the Agora album is the one that was quoted at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last summer. Congratulations and , it should be this way, you write so succinctly and what you wrote is true and I totally agree with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So I had just gotten over the awesomeness of the Panorama Extended edition – spent last week listening and loving it more and more – just to find out today from Podcast #22 about the expanded Heartbeat City & Shake it Up.

    Now my subscription to Apple Music doesn’t seem so dumb b/c within seconds I had the album in my phone in my AirPods and straight to my heart. I am overwhelmed.

    The Demo of drive – yes, the silly beat – but I was not expecting to hear Benjamin’s voice in my ears in that way, I was overcome by a strong feeling of longing, and sadness for my own pain I had in my life, and with love for a complete stranger who I can’t possibly ever know, but who I can now picture in my mind singing the verses. Wow, it is nuts.

    I am not even going to look at shake it up until I spend some time with these treats.

    I am wondering though about It’s Not the Night. I have to say, I feel like this would be on my top 10 Benjamin Orr song list. It is hardly mentioned.

    Do you not love It’s Not the Night? I love his range and his emotion in this one. I love love love it!!
    Anyway, I am just blown away by this album. I originally had three songs on here that I liked, & now it is just pretty much all 17. I really liked your review and I agree about Baby I Refuse.

    If I may add one more observation.
    The Concert in 1984 that video is available for.

    I get that the look of oversized blazers with T-shirts or crew-neck sweaters was a thing (think of the movie Working Girl, the perms, the jackets) and becoming the outfit of the 80’s boy bands, and Crooners. Benjamin being a fashionista would be on the cutting edge of new trends, and making his own trends (he was wearing leather pants after all), and I can see it going with a Lace Album tour, but watching Benjamin sing it’s Not the Night in a “this is new and refined Benjamin wearing a softer hair style and clothes” a great as it was, seemed off. Is it just me? or did you have a similar feeling?

    Hey, we all change and grow, and expecting Benjamin to remain the same guy we saw in Europe in 78 when he was 31, now 6 years later would be foolish. He was no longer married to Kris, as you said the 6 months on London took a toll on the cohesiveness of the Band, and now he was with Dianne, who had her own influence on him. Of course I am sure he didn’t wear that every night on tour, but I don’t know why it bugs me. Even though I can intellectualize the change, I guess as Benjamin says:

    “You know your looking glass has frozen me
    And you know I’m not where I used to be”

    And for all I know, it was simply what he had in his suitcase that wasn’t dirty.

    But on the other hand, how decked out in leather was he in 87? OMGoodnes what was that about,?
    it is like a pendulum swing (did he get crap from fans critics for the boy band look in 84? Even though it worked beautifully at Live Aid) Was it because of the video (which sucked of them on the spaceship?) Did they get marching orders from the Video Producer – “you must look like Hitters from the 60’s in a spaceship”
    (I was a hitter for a time in the early 70’s)

    But who cares really after all of it… doesn’t matter at all. It doesn’t mean anything that is true or deep or real. His life is now a complete open book, and we are just reading between the lines.


  3. I am revising what I said a bit regarding Benjamin’s choice of clothing. If I came off as being and ass-hat being all picky & judgmental, please forgive me.

    I have spent the last 5 weeks embroiled in all things Cars, their music, their look, books, the podcast, the youtube videos, the R&R Hall Induction, Milkwood, the Grasshoppers, Cap’n Swing; as you said Donna, peeling back the layers. I have looked at so many photographs on Pinterest, but they don’t have context attached.

    I just got the Frozen Fire Book, and now I see that those photos I have been seeing of Benjamin wearing white pants, white collar shirt, nikes, a HIP BELT, and a leather vest was in photos for the Heartbeat City ’84 tour, and what he was wearing at the Concert in the Meadowlands in NJ.

    So the sweater & blazer wasn’t an “I’m changing my image” kind of thing like I thought. When you only have glimpses, and snapshots and you are weaving together a story based on those things, ii t is probably wise not to pass judgement unless you have more facts. But how do yo know when it is that you know them all? Lots of speculation involved – which I normally hate in politics and world events, but don’t mind so much with this subject. 🙂

    I can see him as someone who liked changing his look, and aside from leather as his most constant look, he liked mixing things up a lot. (The star trek/ Ziggy Stardust phase) Then in the late 90’s he was all about jeans, LOGO shirts, and fishing hats, and of course, leather. I love every single thing as it represents Benjamin as a person, changing with the times, liking specific things, but keeping to his basics – black leather.
    To paraphrase Rod Stewart “….HE wears it well…”

    There is one thing that I am dying to know.

    The Hip Belts – he seems to have loved wearing stuff on him, aside form his shades. The early video of Let’s Go where he is wearing the Geometric Zebra shirt, he has a big buckle of some kind on his left hip. He usually has things hanging off his waist, or his dangling from his ear, or pins etc.
    (It took me some time to figure out that his necklace in Door to Door was a fish perhaps a sea bass?)

    So the hip belt in the Meadowlands photo looks metal. And in the Magic video, when they do the close up of him and Greg, and he does his little schtick with the bass, it looks like he is wearing two belts one leather one metal or a combo metal & leather. The metal & black one looks like belt in the photos you posted Donna, the black and white ones, and one color, where he was wearing the Purple shirt with white flowers, and a tweed blazer.

    So my question:
    In one of the songs, Ric writes, and I believe it’s Benjamin that sings the lyrics:
    “and you look so tacky in your metal hip belt”. Or “your metal hip belt is tacky” or something like that.
    I can’t remember what song.

    and what about Hotel Queenie?
    Hotel Queenie why can’t you make some moves tonight
    I saw you with the phone and I wonder if you could still talk
    I picked up your photo I’m looking for your sultry stare
    When did you change the color in your hair
    I like your costume curls and all your la dee dahs
    You never come to parties nobody knows your name
    When did you change the letters in your name
    I’d like to get inside your head
    I’d like to play around

    Anybody think or know if these were referring to Benjamin? Were they inside jokes? Or am I reading too much into this? I remember hip belts, I wore them as well, so did lots of people.


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