On his bass rig: “I’m a big fan of Fender Precision basses. It’s got the brightness I need and the active electronics. I’ve used the Steinberger, but it’s a bit brassy for me. I don’t really pay attention to strings. My bass roadie does all that.” — from “Benjamin Orr: The Cars’ Mr. Casual Steps Out” by Rob Tannenbaum, Musician Magazine, March 1987
“I’m real casual with the whole thing. It’s tough to be the best at anything, and I don’t really strive to be the best bassist in the world.” — from “Benjamin Orr: The Cars’ Mr. Casual Steps Out” by Rob Tannenbaum, Musician Magazine, March 1987
Hello, friends! Just a quick post this morning as I got a great question from a reader (thank you, MV!). Having heard the isolated track that I posted in my article about “Just What I Needed,” she was curious and eager to find out if more such gems existed. I do know of a few, so I thought I’d post them all in one place to make it easier for all of us to enjoy the deliciousness of Ben’s vocals.
Here’s that initial one. It was posted by Jose Mirelli on Vimeo, and it includes Ben’s bass track and Elliot’s guitar solo:
Jose has two more on his Vimeo page: “All Mixed Up” and “Bye Bye Love.” I love the one for “Bye Bye Love” so much that I wrote a little gush about it. Haha! Again, these uploads are both vocals and bass:
I also love this tribute video that highlights Ben’s vocal and bass on “Moving In Stereo,” layered on a bed of Greg’s tasty synthesizer riffs.
One final gem: the isolated vocal track of “Drive.” This is so tender and lovely. I can’t help but imagine Ben singing this to his young son as a bedtime lullaby.
Ah, sweet Ben! I never get tired of his voice.
The reader who asked about this was pointing out that with the recovery of the Candy-O monitor mixes, certainly the capability of creating more of these kinds of audios is out there. Of course, we all wish that the vocal tracks would be released from EVERY song Ben recorded! To put on headphones and have him crooning right into my ears is such a divine experience, and believe me, I partake regularly. And now you can, too!
If you liked this article, you might also enjoy the post I did where I listed all of the songs I know of that Ben sang lead on. You can find it here: Benjamin: Lead Vocal List.
On remastering the Cars’ catalog: “The technology of recording… and the way people approach bass these days… is so different than it was in the 80s… didn’t have the finite things that some of the new technology has, so I was practically shocked by how much more clarity and bass… On all these albums I was like, ‘I can’t believe how good Ben’s playing the bass.’ It’s like, you can hear every bass thing going on. And that was… to me like… a whole new force, so remastering was a really good idea.” — Ric Ocasek, August 17, 2017
“For me it’s power. Myself and David supply the power. We are the ‘en-gine.’ That’s what it is to me… It’s also melodic, a bass instrument is melodic to me. I don’t go into playing straight ‘boom boom four’, you know. I like to experiment a bit, and sweeten it up, put a little melody behind the bass part. I think it helps. We’ll let the audience be the judge.”– The Cars: Riding the New Wave radio interview, 1982
What was it like to play Benjamin Orr’s bass parts when you toured with The New Cars? “When I started working on that gig I discovered that Orr wasn’t just picking away at the obvious eighth notes. Those are really smart parts. He changes it up a bit on every verse and every chorus in order to make each part of each song work individually. ‘My Best Friend’s Girl’ is a decent example. There’s an art to the way he picks the part using lots of down strokes, the occasional upstroke, and an occasional sixteenth note stutter. And he incorporates just the right amount of palm muting throughout.” — Kasim Sulton, former bassist for The New Cars and member of several other rock bands, Bassplayer.com interview, February 1, 2010