Review: Heartbeat City Expanded Edition

The last of Rhino catalog revamp, this is part five of six: my review of the Heartbeat City Expanded Edition. I had started writing this in 2018 shortly after the album was released, but got (happily) distracted with my duties for Joe Milliken’s book, Let’s Go! My article ended up being published for Standing Room Only in March, 2019, in time for the one-year anniversary of the release.


March 30, 2018, saw the continuation of Rhino Records’ revamp of The Cars’ classic catalog with the release of the expanded edition of Heartbeat City (in tandem with Shake It Up, previously reviewed on SRO). This wildly unique fifth album from the band proved The Cars to be at the forefront of technological experimentation, cutting edge visual representation (aka music videos), and eclectic synth pop sorcery – all addictive elements prevalent in the 1984 music scene.

After working with Roy Thomas Baker on their first four albums, The Cars chose to team up with famed producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange for HBC, a decision that would ultimately be the best in terms of commercial success, but possibly the worst for the band’s cohesive future. They lived in London for over six months, undergoing a grueling recording and production process that left them worn thin. In the liner notes for this expanded edition, written by David Fricke with Ric Ocasek, Ric states, “All those months in London, things got out of sync between us. People thought – maybe myself included – that in three or four years we’d come back and do this some more. We just never did.”

Heedless of the personal cost, the album itself was a smash. It rose to number 3 on the Billboard 200 chart and spawned five hit singles, including the upbeat and danceable trio “You Might Think,” “Magic,” and “Hello Again.” The most memorable is the ballad “Drive,” sung by Benjamin Orr, which became the haunting soundtrack to the video montage of Ethiopian famine images during the historic Live Aid concert in 1985. Every song is a grabber: rich, satisfying, and saturated with style.

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spj

Let’s take a look at how Rhino treated this iconic album with their expanded edition. As with Shake It Up, they chose to forego the unique album etching on the fourth side, but did offer a limited edition colored vinyl, featuring HBC in a nice marshmallow-y white. The other notable difference with this offering is that the original cover art was revamped. Drummer and designer David Robinson explains in the notes that his original concept featured unique plans for the graphics and color scheme, but they were scrapped by the art department. He said, “I’ve been lucky to finally create the cover as conceived 33 years ago. Thanks Rhino… Best ‘do over’ ever!”

Inside the gatefold we find an infusion of graphic imagery and photos that seem representative of the band’s departure from their solid rock days as they embraced the new wave pop style. By itself it might not satisfy the desire for new pictures, but when you pull out the album sleeves there are more than enough beautiful shots of the band in concert to cover any initial disappointment. On the back of that sleeve are some very candid and compelling liner notes in which Ric Ocasek explores the pros and cons of the making of this album. The second sleeve showcases the lyrics with a clean and simple design.

As you may know, the bonus tracks generally make or break the expanded editions for me. This release came with seven additional songs, the most notable being the early demo version of “Drive.”  The repetitive samba beat seems a bit silly when compared to the elegant ballad that hit number 3 on the Billboard charts, but the demo is redeemed by the silky, evocative vocals of bass player Benjamin Orr, who clearly communicates the beauty of Ric’s lyrics in spite of the misplaced rhythm.

Three of the bonus songs are not new. There is the remix version of “Hello Again” (released as a 12” single in 1984) that takes the song to the pinnacle of 80s synth glory with a plethora of musical stutters, crazy car noises, and even quirkier sound effects.  “Breakaway”, which was the B-side to “Why Can’t I Have You” in 1985, is perhaps a lesser-known track but its pulsing beat fits perfectly in this mix. The poppy “Tonight She Comes” is from the band’s 1985 Greatest Hits album and is indeed one of the band’s highest charting singles.

My favorite tracks are from the early versions that they dug out. Subtle differences between “Jacki” and its final form, “Heartbeat City”, add a bit of new texture to the title track. I also appreciate the evolution of the darker “One More Time” to the ethereal and achy “Why Can’t I Have You”. The compelling shift in the direction of the synthesizer part and the softer drum presence take this song from creepy stalker mode to a ballad of legitimate longing.

Now here’s the tastiest treat of them all: “Baby I Refuse.” Similarly titled to the final cut on the album (“I Refuse”), this early incarnation of one of my favorite tunes takes the song in a whole different direction and I am completely addicted. The melodic, gentle guitar stylings of Elliot Easton have me hooked in the sway and make this track worthy of every daily playlist.

These new expanded editions from Rhino Records are available digitally and on CD, as well as the vinyl product reviewed here. Should fans shell out the money for Heartbeat City? For me, Elliot’s signature solo on “Baby I Refuse” alone was worth the price of the whole album set. Add to that the glorious photos, the in-depth liner notes, and the fact that this album just exemplifies all that is bright and beautiful in 80s music, and you’ve got yourself a winner!

Review: Shake It Up Expanded Edition

As Rhino Records continued to release The Cars’ catalog with bonus material, so continued my little writing series for Standing Room Only. Here is part four of six: my review of The Cars’ Shake It Up Expanded Edition. (I actually wrote the majority of this review on the plane to Cleveland, on my way to see The Cars get inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! 🤓🤘)


Rhino Records has done it again. Coinciding with The Cars’ 2018 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and paving the way for the celebration of the 40th anniversary of their debut album, Rhino has released expanded editions of Shake it Up (1981) and Heartbeat City (1984), The Cars’ fourth and fifth albums, respectively. Of course, you may recall that expanded editions of Candy-O and Panorama were released last summer, causing quite a stir in the “Fanorama,” and these March 30, 2018, offerings have generated their own buzz, as well.

Do you remember how in my review of Panorama I used the illustration of a capital letter Y to show the progression of The Cars’ sound? And how I said that Panorama represented a veering off into the left fork of the letter? Well, with Shake it Up (SIU) we definitely hear the band heading back to center and then taking a U turn up in the opposite direction. No more snarky jabs and swaggering strut; SIU sounds more like a dance set at the junior high… which is where it may have been played most often.

This album was produced by Roy Thomas Baker (his fourth and last collaboration with The Cars), and it was recorded in The Cars’ own studio in Boston, Syncro Sound. Critics and fans alike loved it, and the album hit number nine on the Billboard Pop Albums chart, while the title track became the first of the band’s singles to break the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number four. Clearly this perky, light-hearted sound gratified the mainstream listeners of the day.

SIU1

Though it has grown on me over time, it took a bit for me to warm up to SIU. Never doubting Greg Hawkes’ limitless keyboarding wizardry, this album is a little less rock and a little more new wave, and I miss the edge of the once-prominent Elliot Easton guitar riffs and the deep drumming of David Robinson that have been largely replaced by a focus on the synthesizer and drum machines (I get it – it was the 80s, after all!). Still, I love all things Cars, and this album has many terrific gems to keep the toes tapping.

Of course, the purpose of this review isn’t to scrutinize the original offering, but to examine the features of this new expanded edition.

Staying consistent with Rhino’s earlier reissues, the Shake It Up vinyl is packaged in a beautiful gatefold album. The original 1981 elements are all there: the front and back cover art, as well as the record sleeve with the lyrics and ‘spraying shaker’ image. The visuals are then bumped up a notch with the addition of a hunky photo of the band, ultra-cool individual shots of each member, a risqué circular graphic, and revealing liner notes written by David Fricke and David Robinson. Scrumptious!

Rhino did detour a little when it came to the vinyl itself. No badass etching on the fourth side as seen on their 2017 releases (Panorama, Candy-O and Live at The Agora); they went with a limited edition colored vinyl instead. SIU came out in a nice bright red.

As with the previous releases, Rhino (and presumably, singer/songwriter Ric Ocasek) dove deep for the eight bonus tracks. The result is a very fun, eclectic auditory smorgasbord that includes a demo, a remix, several early versions of SIU tunes, and a previously unreleased song featuring bassist Benjamin Orr on vocals. The variety of sensations that the listener may experience here could be worth the price of adding this to your vinyl stack.

Three tasty tracks stand out to me.  First is the rough cut of Benjamin Orr and Ric Ocasek goofing their way through the early demo of “Shake It Up.” I literally laughed out loud the first time I listened to it. I have never heard anything from The Cars that sounds so much like an after-hours party as this recording! Then there is “Take It On The Run,” featuring some fabulous Greg-ness putting a kooky jungle spin on the mystical “A Dream Away.” Finally, we are treated to a lusty vocal performance from Ben on the edgy “Midnight Dancer,” a song that clearly didn’t fit in with the rest of SIU but definitely needed to be released to the world. It is a memorable way to close out the album.

This new expanded edition from Rhino Records is available digitally and on CD, as well as the vinyl product reviewed here. Though the bonus tracks have been released online, I highly recommend putting out the money for this package – you won’t regret it. I’ll cover the new version of Heartbeat City in my next review and we’ll see what other delights Rhino has served up. Stay tuned!

Review: Panorama Expanded Edition

This review of the Panorama Expanded Edition is part three in a series of six articles I wrote for Standing Room Only in 2017.


With two incredible albums under their belt, the 80s new wave rock band, The Cars, put out their third album in three years, and once again shook up the music world with their cutting-edge originality. Panorama continued the streak of platinum albums for The Cars, and broke the top five on Billboard’s album chart. Released on August 15, 1980, with Roy Thomas Baker back in the producer’s chair, Panorama caused quite a stir.

Panorama5
Photo courtesy of Joe Milliken

Picture an uppercase ‘Y’ as the path of creativity. If The Cars began at the base with their debut album, and moved upward with Candy-O, Panorama represents a veering off to the left on their musical journey. Almost across the board, critics declared this third album to be dark, moody, and cold. On October 30, 1980, Rolling Stone called it “rigid, electronic rock & roll that favors machine-like exactness over heartfelt expression, and avant-garde minimalism over pop-based tunefulness,” – and that was a friendly review!

But where those on high grumbled about the starkness of the music, I am crazy for it. Panorama is far and away my favorite Cars album. What may be considered rigid and distant, I hear as aggressive and full of swagger. Songs like, “Don’t Tell Me No,” “Getting Through,” and “Down Boys” present an in-your-face attitude that we can all relate to, while “Touch and Go” and “Mistfit Kid” expose a little of the human underbelly in Ric Ocasek’s writing, while still maintaining that above-it-all, bemused exterior.

Because it is my favorite album, I have to work harder than ever to not go on and on about every original track, and will instead focus on examining the “expanded” features of this new offering from Rhino Records.

As with the Candy-O expanded edition, opening the gatefold of the vinyl Panorama reissue provides a wonderful visual thrill. There is a collage of rare photos of the band, looking as cool and collected as ever. Inside the sleeves, the delights continue with the reproduced lyrics sheet, and another set of pictures backed by liner notes written by keyboard player Greg Hawkes and writer David Wild. There are two records: sides one and two feature the remastered Panorama album in its entirety, side three contains bonus tracks, and a custom laser etching graces the fourth side; this time with drummer David Robinson’s classy checkered flag.

Now here’s where things get a little sticky for me. Obviously the big draw of a re-release like this is the bonus material. Panorama has only four extra tracks. One of those is the punky and irresistible “Don’t Go To Pieces,” which was released back in the early 80s on vinyl as the B sides to both “Don’t Tell Me No” and “Give Me Some Slack,” and again on the Just What I Needed: The Cars Anthology in 1995. Also included is a song called “Be My Baby,” which seems to me to be an almost identical version of the song, “Maybe Baby” from The Cars’ fourth album, Shake It Up.  Not a fave of mine, but still a solid, throbbing rocker.

Then we get to the new stuff… the golden ticket. This is the kind of thing longtime Cars fans can’t ever get enough of: previously unreleased tracks. Rhino included two of them; both incomplete demos, and both sung by bassist Benjamin Orr.

First we have “Shooting For You,” a great meshing of rocking guitars and quirky synthesizer riffs, with a minimal infusion of lyrics. What Benjamin does sing, he sings with that unshakable confidence and wry delivery characteristic of many of the songs where he takes the lead vocal. The other treasure is “The Edge.” From my first listen I was electrified by Benjamin’s palpable energy, and completely taken in by Ric Ocasek’s lyrics, which alternate between taunting and nonsensical. The marriage of the two is intoxicating. Both “Shooting For You” and “The Edge” have become an exciting part of my regular playlist.

Now, I have to admit I was a little disappointed that Rhino included so few bonus tracks on this reissue. It would have been so great to hear some of the original Panorama songs in demo form or as previously unreleased live recordings. Perhaps no alternate versions exist? The two songs they did give us are terrific, but one of those (“Shooting For You”) was made available in its entirety via the internet almost two months before the expanded editions were on the market, so basically when I was forking over my money at the counter, I was effectively shelling out for only one new song and a bunch of terrific photos. Worth it? For me, yes! There is no question. I am absolutely crazy about all things ‘The Cars.’ You’ll have to decide for yourself, though, if the new elements are enough to compel you to replace what you’ve currently got in your library.

These new expanded editions from Rhino Records are available digitally and on CD, as well as the vinyl product reviewed here. And here’s an exciting side note: Greg Hawkes recently commented on Facebook that there might be forthcoming reissues of Shake It Up and Heartbeat City (the next two albums in The Cars’ catalog) before the end of 2017. Of course, I will eagerly open my wallet again! It’s getting awfully close to December 31st with no official announcement, but I am optimistic that 2018 will bring us those reissues if I don’t find them hiding under my Christmas tree. Fingers crossed!

Review: Candy-O Expanded Edition

This is the second article in a series of six that I wrote for Joe Milliken and Standing Room Only: a review of the expanded edition of Candy-O.


In the rare instances where a band explodes onto the rock scene with a perfect debut album, music critics don’t often hold their breath that the follow-up offering will be able to measure up. In fact, they even have a name for it: the ‘sophomore slump.’  The Cars were one of the exceptions.

Released on June 13, 1979, The Cars’ second effort, Candy-O, would be certified platinum in less than two months, and would soar as high as #3 on the Billboard 200 chart and #4 on RPM Canada. Its first single, “Let’s Go,” would jump to #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and the follow-up release, “It’s All I Can Do,” would peak at #41. Billboard Magazine’s chart for the “Top Pop Albums of 1979” lists The Cars debut at #4 and Candy-O at #82. Needless to say, the success of The Cars was not ‘just a quirk.’

There is a common creative thread running between the debut album and Candy-O, meshing the sound of the two projects in such a way that you just knew it was The Cars, and that sound… that punchy, fresh, addictive sound…  was their identifying signature. It’s really no surprise that they should be linked: several of the songs on Candy-O were already written and floating around at the time of the debut album. The plaintive “Since I Held You” and the hard-rocking “Candy-O,” along with the sardonic “Night Spots” and “You Can’t Hold On Too Long,” were popular numbers played in clubs and concerts before Candy-O was in the record stores.

Though I could go on for paragraphs about the power and appeal of the songs on Candy-O, my purpose here is to examine the newest issuing of this terrific album. Owners of the previously released (and reviewed) The Cars Deluxe Edition had reason to be pretty excited about the prospect of Rhino Record’s newly “expanded” editions of both Candy-O and Panorama (The Cars’ second and third albums, respectively) that came out in July of 2017; surely we would get another delivery of rarities from the Cars’ cache of unreleased audio goodies.

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Photo courtesy of Joe Milliken

The double album vinyl packaging of the reissue is beautiful. Of course, the 1979 original artwork is there. Opening the gatefold reveals some previously unreleased photographs, including a candid shot of the band, and a series of very cool reference photos of the model Candy Moore, taken for use by Alberto Vargas for painting that iconic album cover.  Tucked inside the sleeves are the original lyrics/photo sheet and a set of liner notes from lead guitarist Elliot Easton, written with David Wild. Then the vinyl itself: the remastered audio on two sides, bonus tracks on the third, and a cool custom etching on the fourth side.

The seven bonus tracks are an interesting mix. Rather than recreate the entire original album in demos, as we found with the debut deluxe CD, only five of the eleven songs are represented with alternate versions. “Let’s Go” and “Lust for Kicks,” are included from the previously discovered monitor mix tapes (made public around 2001). Also included is “That’s It,” originally appearing as the B side to the single, “Let’s Go.”

Another little gem is the Northern Studios version of the hilarious and fun-to-sing “They Won’t See You,” a track that was played in the clubs but didn’t make it to vinyl. It’s a delightful peek into Ric Ocasek’s peculiar sense of humor; indeed, the lyrics here inspired my twelve-year-old to declare, “Those guys are weird!” … then he asked me to play it again. Unfortunately, this appears to be the same version released as a bonus track on the 1999 The Cars Deluxe Edition.

The real treat is the previously unreleased music. My favorite, “Candy-O,” appears from a series of recordings done at Northern Studios. Benjamin Orr’s vocal work has such a metallic, powerful sound to it, reflecting an appealing arrogance in his mood not present in the studio version. “Night Spots” and “Dangerous Type” were also done at Northern Studios, and portray that same kind of pleasing vocal strut. You get the impression that the band was feeling confident and riding high on the thrill of their success.

One of the magnetic elements of demo recordings is getting a glimpse of the evolution of a hit. For example, in “Dangerous Type” you can tell there was still some polishing of the lyrics yet to come. The absence of Greg Hawkes’s synthesizer is quite telling as well, clearly emphasizing how vital his bright, melodic contributions are in defining the sound of The Cars.

I confess, I do wish that there had been more in the way of bonus material, especially from those Northern Studios sessions. Really, since the monitor mixes have been out so long, only three of the additional tracks were previously unheard by the public. It’s a bit of a letdown after the generous banquet served on the deluxe edition, but beggars can’t be choosers, and I am truly grateful for another peek into the ‘vault’ of Cars’ material.

These new expanded editions from Rhino Records are available digitally and on CD, as well as the vinyl product reviewed here. If you don’t already have Candy-O in your music library, grab the expanded edition; you won’t be disappointed. We’ll take a look at Panorama in my next review and see what other delights Rhino Records has in store. Stay tuned!

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

Lyrics: Midnight Dancer

Midnight Dancer by The Cars (written by Ric Ocasek ©1983)

You come out like a dancer who’s been leaping for her life

You’re tired of open-end romancers who never reach the perfect height… that’s right

 

You fall out like a window dresser in your sure-to-shade attire

And with a touch of grace and splendor and a vision from afar

 

Midnight dancer, keep on dancing through the night

Midnight dancer, keep on dancing til it’s tight, alright

Midnight dancer

 

You fall out like a beauty who’s been born to catch the eye

When you spin and cause commotion you can laugh away and fly… fly

 

Midnight dancer, keep on dancing through the night

Midnight dancer, keep on dancing til it’s tight

Well midnight dancer, midnight dancer

Midnight dancer, midnight dancer

Midnight dancer, midnight dancer

Midnight dancer…

Episode 25: The Official Unboxing!

Episode25March 30th:  The day has arrived — and so has the UPS man! Rhino’s official release of Shake It Up and Heartbeat City is upon us, and Dave and Donna have the CDs in their hot little hands (thank you, Amazon). Join them as they give their impressions of the packaging, bonus tracks, and liner notes included with each album. Not only that, but Donna picked up the records from her faithful vinyl guy, Bob from 4000 Holes, so we get a chance to discover the similarities and differences between the two products.

They also address such tasty tidbits as what Donna will say when she runs into Roy Thomas Baker in Cleveland,  the ‘fabulous Greg-ness’ of “Take It On The Run,” what the little black egg really looks like, and how Robert John Mutt Lange got Benjamin to sing ‘pork pie’ on the studio version of “Drive.”

The news was chock-full of delights as well… here are the links you’re going to want to follow up on.

  1. Customizable t-shirts and products from The Awesome Company! Supporting and celebrating people on the autism spectrum, this company is co-founded by Ric and Paulina’s daughter-in-law. Check out their website for some AWESOME gear!
  2. Joe Milliken has signed a publishing contract for his biography of Benjamin Orr! Stay in tune with updates, events, media activities, and discount promotions by liking his Facebook page or following the book on Twitter. If you’re not already on the mailing list, shoot Joe a message at benorrbook@gmail.com and request to be added.
  3. chrismorris2Chris Morris has revealed his artwork of The Cars as members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2018. Fast shipping and great customer service. Order his cool merchandise here!
  4. Get on The Midnight Scroll… write to us! Submit your questions, comments, and complaints to nightthoughtspodcast@gmail.com. We want to hear from you!
  5. Join us on Facebook in The Cars NiGHT THOUGHTS Podcast group and let us know how we’re doing. Don’t forget to follow us on twitter (@night_spots@sweetpurplejune), too!

Enjoy!

Episode 24: A Show About Nothing

With things heating up in The Cars world, it feels a little like a game of Whack-A-Mole, trying to keep up with the variety of stimulating tidbits that are popping up here and there. Dave and Donna relax into an informal chat about nothing… and everything… surrounding the band and their current goings-on.

Special guest and good friend Jenny Durgin (aka Hank) takes a break from her ‘internet protest’ to hang out and join the discussion. Welcome, Jenny!

With only a pencil-scratched outline to follow (written by Ric — haha), the conversation meanders to such topics as:

  1. The Expanded Editions: Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free… or uh, the cake? And what of that colored vinyl?
  2. For those following Donna’s age-old grudge: new connections are made in the saga of the Panorama turntable cover.
  3. What to wear to the Rock Hall ceremony — NOT pajamas!
  4. Informal updates on the current activities of Elliot (and The Empty Hearts), Ric (with his art activities), Greg (touring with Rundgren’s band), and David (well… there’s that beard, anyway).
  5. Reactions to the idea that The Cars will replace Benjamin with an outside bass player for the induction ceremony. Excuse Donna’s stuttering… you know how she gets.
  6. Did Diane Grey Page really mean to put the word out to the Fanorama that she would be in Cleveland?

The Midnight Scroll prompts the YouTube posting of an elusive interview with Ric and Benjamin on The Other Side of the Tracks (check it out HERE) and a brief discussion of Ric’s looks.

Episode24Rico.jpg
Graphic by @night_spots

We are also treated to a hilarious email from Rico, who will surely become one of the most beloved members of the Fanorama. He captivates us with his story of the 1979 Cars concert at Wollman Skating Rink in Central Park… he and his buddy, Vinnie, were staggered by the ‘ice skating shenanigans’ of our favorite band.

Stay tuned for Episode 25 where Dave and Donna will record the unboxing of the expanded editions of Shake It Up and Heartbeat City.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Contact us and tell us your thoughts! You can email us at nightthoughtspodcast@gmail.com, or join us on Facebook in The Cars NiGHT THOUGHTS Podcast group and let us know how we’re doing. Don’t forget to follow us on twitter (@night_spots@sweetpurplejune), too!

Click below to listen, subscribe and comment.

In other words:

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

And “Panorama” makes three!

I announced several weeks ago that I was invited to do some writing for Joe Milliken, biographer for Benjamin Orr, and his diverse website, Standing Room Only. I’ve been working on a short series of reviews about the current reissuing of The Cars’ back-catalog, including the debut album in 1999, and the recent expanded editions of Candy-O and Panorama, released in July of 2017.

The final piece was published this weekend, so I am providing links to all three reviews down below (all photos courtesy of Joe Milliken). Hope you enjoy them, and be sure to like the Standing Room Only Facebook page to keep up with Joe’s excellent articles on arts and entertainment in the greater New England area and across the nation!

carsdeluxe1

 

First up: I took a look back at the 1999 The Cars Deluxe Edition:

http://standing-room-only.info/column/review/joe-milliken/cd-review-looking-back-rhino-records-release-cars-deluxe-edition

 

candyo3

 

Then I examined the 2017 ‘expanded edition’ of Candy-O to see how it measured up to the deluxe treatment:

http://standing-room-only.info/column/review/joe-milliken/album-review-rhino-records-expanded-edition-cars-candy-o

 

Panorama5

 

And finally, I went through the Panorama expanded edition and shared my thoughts:

http://standing-room-only.info/column/review/joe-milliken/album-review-rhino-records-expanded-edition-cars-panorama

 

 

I’ve got one more assignment coming up (a review of The Cars Live at the Agora 1978) and then we’ll see where we go from there. I’m excited for the possibilities! As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts; comment below or find me on Facebook or Twitter.

Writing in the real world!

The name Joe Milliken is familiar to most of you… he’s the guy who is writing a music biography about our wonderful Benjamin Orr. What you may NOT know is that he is also the publisher of his own website called Standing Room Only, a site dedicated to promoting music, arts, and specialty foods in the northern New England area. Music reviews, concert recaps, and exclusive interviews with badass rockers are the norm, along with lots of attention given to local businesses and arts events, making this a website with something for everyone.

Joe also runs “The Jock of Rock Presents” facebook page, providing a shot of rock and roll in your newsfeed, just when you need it.

Through our common interests of music, The Cars, and writing, I’ve become good friends with Joe over the last several months. And… I am thrilled and honored to announce that I have received an invitation from him to contribute to his site!  I am in the process of writing a series of album/CD reviews revolving around the recent re-issuing of The Cars’ classic back-catalog, which will be published soon. Not sure where we’ll go after that, but I am excited for the possibilities!

Not only that, but as his book gets closer to hitting the market, I will be involved in getting the word out through as many channels as possible. You can imagine the joy it gives me to have another way to promote Benjamin’s life and legacy in the world.

Please be sure to check out his website, and stay tuned for links to my contributions.

Lyrics: The Edge

The Edge by The Cars (written by Ric Ocasek, ©198*)

 

Today you feel so hopped up like you’re cooking **

Prisoner of your own dilemma, you can keep the dirty looks

We’re talking* says the Chinaman, you can transplant instead

Or you can shuffle down to kingdom come but that’s just what he says

 

You gotta take off the edge, you gotta take off the edge

You gotta take it off, come on, take it off… well…

 

Today you feel so cracked up, and you feel this running fever

That rises when you least expect it, and comes on like a cleaver

Get lost in the ballerina, it’s just like dancing with myself

And the only time you sneak around is when you need some kind of help, ho!

 

You gotta take off the edge, you gotta take off the edge

You gotta take it off, come on, take it off…. go!

 

Today you feel electric, zippin and a-zappin

A little like ‘condition dead’ with all the extra trappings

I’m with you said the jedi, as he pockets all your hope

Well if you really want to hang yourself don’t supply* the extra rope

 

You gotta take off the edge, you gotta take off the edge

Come on, take it off… take it… take it off… take off the edge

 

You gotta take off the edge, you gotta take off the edge

You gotta take it off, come on, take off the edge

 

You gotta take off the edge, you gotta… come on, take it off… well

 

You gotta take off the edge, you gotta take off the edge

You gotta take off the edge, take it off

You gotta take off the edge, you gotta take off the edge

Come on, take it off… well… take it off… take off the edge