Lyrics: Don’t Tell Me No

“Don’t Tell Me No” by The Cars

It’s my party, you can come

It’s my party, have some fun

It’s my dream, have a laugh

It’s my life, have a half well…

 

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no

I like it when you tell me slow

 

It’s my transition, it’s my play

It’s my phone call to beta ray

It’s my hopscotch, light the torch

It’s my downtime, feel the scorch, well

 

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no, no

(Don’t tell me no)

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no, no

(Don’t tell me no)

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no

I like it when you tell me no

 

It’s my ambition, it’s my joke

It’s my teardrop, emotional smoke

It’s my mercy, it’s my plan

I want to go to future land, well

 

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no

(Don’t tell me no)

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no no no

(Don’t tell me no)

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no

I like it when you tell me slow

 

Don’t tell me no … tell me no… don’t tell me no no

(Don’t tell me no)

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no … don’t tell me, I don’t want to know

(Don’t tell me no)

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no no

(Don’t tell me no)

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no no no, ay

(Don’t tell me no)

 

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me… don’t tell me… don’t tell me no no

(Don’t tell me no)

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me… don’t tell me you have to go… don’t tell me no

(Don’t tell me no)

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no

Lyrics: Candy-O

“Candy-O” by The Cars

Candy-o, I need you

Sunday dress, ruby ring

Candy-o, I need you so, could you help me in?

 

Purple hum, assorted cards

Razor lights you bring

All to prove you’re on the move and vanishing

 

Candy-o, I need you so

Candy-o, I need you so

 

Edge of night, distract yourself

Obstacles don’t work

Homogenize, decentralize, it’s just a quirk

 

Different ways to see you through

All the same in the end

Peculiar star, that’s who you are, do you have to win?

 

Candy-o, I need you so

Candy-o, I need you so

Candy-o, I need you so

Candy-o, I need you so

Review: The Cars Live at the Agora 1978

Here is the 6th piece I wrote for Joe Milliken and Standing Room Only, and it wraps up the series. Though I am adding this to my blog last, it was actually written and published in October of 2017, in between the release of the expanded editions. This is also the review that was quoted on the big screen at a presentation at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018 (photo below).


I’m not going to make you wait until the end of this review to give you my opinion: this album is off the chain!

Now remember, I am not an expert on discerning levels of sound quality, or at picking out nuances in the way music is mixed, but I do know how to enjoy a great show, and there is not a single track on this two-album set that disappoints.

While some critics (and concert goers) have been known to whine and fuss about The Cars not being a ‘dynamic’ live act, no one can deny that when it came to the music, this band could recreate their remarkable studio sound flawlessly from the stage. Because of this, many fans have lamented that The Cars never released a live album during their active years together. Sure, there are a handful of bootleg recordings that make their way around the Fanorama, but not a complete live show remastered and released by the band, itself… until this year, that is!

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Photo courtesy of Joe Milliken.

On April 22, 2017, Rhino Records put out a limited run of 5,000 copies of one of The Cars’ early live performances as part of the worldwide vinyl movement, Record Store Day.  The Cars Live At The Agora, 1978 documents the energy and the fresh sound of the band at the beginning of their rise to success.

Just to give you some context, The Cars consists of songwriter Ric Ocasek on rhythm guitar, and he trades lead vocals with long-time friend and bandmate Benjamin Orr, the bass player. Elliot Easton handles the lead guitar, while Greg Hawkes works his keyboards and David Robinson keeps everybody locked in with his drums. This five-man lineup started playing together in early 1977, and within 18 months they had a record contract in their pockets and their first album on music store shelves.

With their debut single, “Just What I Needed,” gaining popularity on the airwaves, the band took off on their first major tour, spanning the United States, and including stops in Canada and parts of Europe. The Agora show here, recorded at the Agora Ballroom in Cleveland on July 18, 1978, for WMMS radio (about a month into their tour), is a shining example of the band’s ability to interlock their individual roles to create a tight, rollicking performance that keeps the listener bouncing from song to song. No, not a bunch of jumping around and physical gyrations, no long monologues or extended soloing by band members, no pyrotechnics; just an ensemble of creative and classy musicians doing what they do best: rocking the house.

The set list for the night is an interesting blend, giving the enthusiastic audience a taste of where these boys have been and where they are going. Not only are there near-flawless performances of all nine incredible songs from their debut album, but The Cars also burn through some raging rockers from their regular club set (the hard-edged “Take What You Want” and the powerful punk of “Hotel Queenie”) and treat the crowd to “Night Spots,” which will show up on The Cars’ future album, Candy-O. They end the concert with a gritty cover of Eddie Cochran’s “Something Else,” letting Elliot take over the lead vocal on their last song of the night.

Other audio delights pour from the speakers. Listen for Greg’s crazy-cool assortment of eclectic sounds on “I’m In Touch With Your World,” and then catch him later as he pushes the show in a whole new direction with his melodic saxophone (“All Mixed Up” and “Something Else”). Also, I love how you can really hear the power of David’s drums on “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight,” and how Elliot kills it on that classic guitar solo in “Just What I Needed.” My favorite tracks feature Benjamin pouring his all into the vocals, like on “Bye Bye Love” and “All Mixed Up;” you can just feel his racing pulse as he belts it out. And woven throughout the entire show are great harmonies, some highlighted backing vocals, and brief audience interactions that draw a smile.

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Photo courtesy of Joe Milliken.

The cherry on top? Rhino Records really nails it with the packaging of this release. The signature red-and-black color scheme of the early Cars’ years, combined with the terrific photos of each band member and the reproduced hand-written show notes displayed on the backside of the album cover – it’s definitely a stare-worthy addition to the vinyl stack. Inside the cover are tucked two records; three of the sides contain the music, and the fourth displays what would prove to be the first in a series of custom etchings to grace the 2017 releases of Cars albums. Awesome!

The vinyl is hard to get ahold of now, though there are still a few copies available floating around online (mostly from Europe). At this time there are no plans for the show to be released on CD; fortunately Rhino has now made it available digitally through several music channels. Click below to download the album. If you don’t have it already, get a copy – it’s a must-have for every Cars fan!

https://rhino.lnk.to/latasmp?ref=http%3A//thecars.org/


 

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My review, quoted at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during a listening party for this album in the Foster Theater, 2018. Photo courtesy of David Curry.

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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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!

Lyrics: Let’s Go

“Let’s Go” by The Cars

She’s driving away with her dim lights on

When she’s making her play she can’t go wrong…. she never waits too long

She’s winding them down on her clock machine

And she won’t give up ’cause she’s seventeen

 

She’s a frozen fire

She’s my one desire

I don’t want to hold her down, don’t want to break her crown when she says

Let’s go

 

“I like the night life, baby,” she says

“I like the night life, baby,” she says

Let’s go

 

She’s laughing inside ’cause they can’t refuse

She’s so beautiful now she doesn’t wear her shoes… she never likes to choose

She got wonderful eyes and a risqué mouth

When I asked her before she says she’s holding out

 

She’s a frozen fire

She’s my one desire

I don’t want to hold her down, don’t want to break her crown when she says

Let’s go

 

“I like the night life, baby,” she says

“I like the night life, baby,” she says

Let’s go

 

Oooo, “I like the night life, baby,” she says

“I like the night life, baby,” she says

Let’s go

 

BONUS: Same video but with the live vocal. Scrumptious!

 

Lyrics: All Mixed Up

“All Mixed Up” by The Cars

She shadows me in the mirror, she never leaves on the light

And some things that I say to her, they just don’t seem to bite

It’s all mixed up… it’s all mixed up

It’s all mixed up

 

She tricks me into thinking I can’t believe my eyes

I wait for her forever but she never does arrive

It’s all mixed up… it’s all mixed up

It’s all mixed up

 

She said to leave it to me (leave it to me)

Everything will be alright (be alright)

She said to leave it to me (leave it to me)

Everything will be alright

 

She’s always out making pictures, she’s always out making scenes

She’s always out the window when it comes to making dreams

It’s all mixed up… it’s all mixed up

It’s all mixed up

 

She says to leave it to me (leave it to me)

Everything will be alright (be alright)

She says leave it to me (leave it to me)

Everything will be alright, be alright (be alright)

 

She said to leave it to me (leave it to me)

Everything will be alright (be alright)

She said leave it to me, yeah (leave it to me)

Everything will be alright, be alright (be alright)

 

If you leave it to me everything gonna be alright

Yeah, if you leave it to me

(Be alright, be alright, be alright, be alright… )

Lyrics: Moving In Stereo

“Moving In Stereo” by The Cars

Life’s the same, I’m moving in stereo

Life’s the same except for my shoes

Life’s the same, you’re shaking like tremolo

Life’s the same, it’s all inside of you

 

It’s so easy to blow up your problems, it’s so easy to play up your breakdown

It’s so easy to fly through a window, it’s so easy to fool with the sound

 

It’s so tough to get up, it’s so tough

It’s so tough to live up, it’s so tough on you

 

Life’s the same, I’m moving in stereo

Life’s the same except for my shoes

Life’s the same, you’re shaking like tremolo

Life’s the same, it’s all inside of you

 

Life’s the same, I’m moving in stereo

Life’s the same except for my shoes

Life’s the same, you’re shaking like tremolo

Life’s the same, it’s all inside of you

 

Rest in peace, Ric Ocasek.

ric from paulina.png
From Paulina, 09.16.19

Ric died on Sunday.

You probably already know that. Of course you do. It is all over every newswire; the world is in mourning.

I’m touched by the number of friends and fans that have contacted me to make sure I was aware, to see if I was okay, and to share their tears with me. Thank you for that. It is both overwhelming and comforting to be a part of so much heartbreak. There is shelter in our mutual grief, and I am grateful for the sincere connection with so many people who love the band I love.

Like many Benjamin Orr fans, when I first started learning all about Ben and researching the history of The Cars, I immediately adopted the opinion that Ric was the bad guy. I couldn’t see the necessity and beauty of his role; I only saw things in the negative: lead vocal distribution, video screen time, touring and merchandising decisions. It’s no secret that he was highly controlling (he admitted it himself more than once) and that he gained the most financially from the band’s success, and I felt that he often came across as arrogant and self-absorbed in those early interviews. I pinned everything on him: SCAN0082certainly the break-up of the band, as well as Ben’s drinking, Ben’s sadness, and Ben’s lack of commercial success in those turbulent 1990s.

It was my friend and podcast partner, Dave, who helped me unclench my fist. We’ve always shared a friendly “Team Ric vs. Team Ben” rivalry, and through many lengthy discussions he chipped away at my tunnel vision and illuminated the human side of Ric, the likeable side. My perception slowly shifted.

I acknowledged that Ric was the one who wrote the music that moved me, the lyrics that resonated. I admitted that I loved a lot of the songs Ric sang. I was reminded that he was Ben’s steadfast partner in chasing the dream, the two of them trekking from state to state in one band or another, both aware (subconsciously or not) that they needed each other to make it. Ric introduced us to David, Elliot, and Greg, too, when he finally solidified The Cars. I saw how in his later years Ric mellowed, spoke kindly of Ben and the band, and communicated his deep respect for the men with whom he made his mark. All these things softened me.

I’m not saying that Ric didn’t play a significant part in all of the ugly, he doesn’t get a ‘pass’ by any means. And I’m not claiming to know how deep his regrets may or may not have been. But I do believe that Ben and Ric made amends before Ben died. I believe that Ric’s love for Ben was sincere and deep, in spite of whatever divided them in the past. Elliot, Greg, and David all speak of Ric with the affection and loyalty that reflects the thick bonds of brotherhood they all shared. If those who were actually hurt by Ric can forgive him, how can I, an outside observer, hold a grudge?

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I’ve grown to genuinely admire and respect Ric so much over the last two years. He was intelligent, creative, talented, and he was an integral part of the band I love the most in this world. His death is a terrible blow, a sucker punch. Tears came unexpectedly; many, many tears. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I’d have to say goodbye to my rock idols someday… but not Ric. Not now.

There’s just such a finality in Ric’s death. It’s the end of an era. There is really no more Cars. There will be no more albums, no more tours. And what of the fabled vault? It’s excruciating to accept that so much history may be gone forever, too.

And so I focus on gratitude.

Thank you for all that your music gives me, Ric: the hyper, the healing, the escape. Thank you for the way you gave me Ben. Thank you for providing the platform for David and Greg and Elliot. Thank you for performing at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2018 so I could see The Cars live. Thank you for changing the course of music history.

I don’t know exactly how the afterlife works but I suspect (and hope) that you and Ben are reunited, rockin’ and happy. Rest in peace.

March 23, 1944 ~ September 15, 2019

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Episode 42: Album Dissections: Door to Door

Image result for door to door the carsLet’s face it, Cars fans are all over the board when it comes to their opinions of Door to Door, the sixth and final offering put out by the full band lineup. In fact, Donna has a history of poo-pooing this record (Dave loves it!), but for this episode she has spent a week listening to almost nothing else, with interesting results.

They start with the usual run down of the album stats, and then they lay the foundation for some deeper analysis. The unique dynamics of the band’s imminent break up cannot be ignored, as hindsight allows us to take a look at this bit of musical history through different lenses. And then of course you have Ric in the producer’s chair and the inclusion of a couple of songs from the early 70s, and the effect that those decisions had on the overall sound of the final product are worth ferreting out.

  1. Was Ric already ‘done’ with The Cars at the time they recorded this album?
  2. Can you tell that the band itself was not operating as a cohesive unit?
  3. Did any of these songs rightfully belong on solo albums?
  4. Is the album flat? Overproduced? Tired?
  5. How much Mutt influence is still present?
  6. And those background vocals: on target or totally off track?
  7. Where was Roy Thomas Baker?
  8. Will there be an expanded edition of Door to Door?
  9. Are the band members embarrassed by this album?

Dave and Donna weave their own varying opinions of each song with observations about the accompanying videos, the increasing focus on Ric, the balance of Ric and Ben’s vocal work, and the fluctuating musical presence of the other guys. They also discuss Diane Gray Page and what role, if any, she may have played in the tensions during that time.

Like the overall response in the Fanorama, Door to Door has the effect of sending Dave and Donna all over the spectrum when it comes to lining up their personal reactions. Throughout the discussion the two jump between taking each other by surprise, being totally on the same page, and flat out disagreeing with each other. But they are definitely keeping it real!

Friend of the podcast Alan Fields (from Drive: The Colorado Cars Tribute Band) writes a letter for The Midnight Scroll and it’s a doozy! He provides some amazing insights into the recording and mixing of Heartbeat City that give us some new food for thought, including the wild question: is there an entire ‘Mutt mix’ alternate version of HBC out there in the vault? Wow! Wouldn’t that be something?!

Now don’t forget… We want to connect with you! Find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @TheCarsPodcast  (individually we’re @night_spots  and  @sweetpurplejune ), and subscribe to our audio outlets! You can listen by clicking the Youtube link below, or visit us on iTunes or Soundcloud. Wherever you connect, be sure to subscribe, share and comment. Let us know your thoughts — email us at nightthoughtspodcast@gmail.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Don’t wait another minute… dive in!

Episode 41: Album Dissections: Heartbeat City

Time to return to our in-depth analysis of The Cars’ discography, and here we are at their fifth album, Heartbeat City!episode 41

First stop, though: a bit of a follow-up to the activities of the Orrbots (the topic of Episode 37), some possible explanations for photos of Benjamin wearing an eye patch, and Dave finally wins the ‘suck’ or ‘slug’ controversy about the true lyrics to “Cruiser” with an audio clip debunking Donna’s assertion once and for all (…or does he?).

RTB Obi
Obi Roy Kenobi. Graphic by @night_spots

Now, on with the topic at hand. New information about Roy Thomas Baker’s activities in the early 80s leads into some speculation (real… or not real?) about the possible reasons he wasn’t available to continue working with The Cars when they were ready to jump into the studio for HBC. And jump in, they did!

Donna lays out some of the technical details of this record, which might be the best performing album The Cars ever released, and the two discuss how the band’s sound evolved in the hands of producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange. Everything with Heartbeat City was BIGGER… but does bigger always mean better? Dave and Donna examine that question based on background vocals, the method of recording the drums, illuminating the synthesizers versus guitar, contemplating Benjamin’s contribution, and the effect the videos had on the band’s internal and external success.

Image result for kenny loggins top gunSprinkled throughout are other ponderings: How did the recording process for this album affect the band’s relationships? Is “I Refuse” forgettable? Will Elliot Easton ever be on our podcast? In the video for “Drive,” are those wax figures or the real guys? And while we’re at it, who was actually on the stage during the SNL performance of “Drive”? And possibly the most pressing question… Is Kenny Loggins the slut of movie scores???

Dave does remarkably well engaging in the conversation considering he is dealing with a migraine and the meds that accompany it, which may account for why he is unimpressed with Donna’s use of the phrase, “It’s all I can poo.” The show closes with the Midnight Scroll and an explanation of Fair Use copyright law as told by our old pal Rico.

Take a minute to contact us! There are plenty of ways to get in touch with NiGHT THOUGHTS:

  1. Follow the podcast on Twitter! @TheCarsPodcast. If you’re looking for the hosts individually, Dave goes by @night_spots and Donna is @sweetpurplejune.
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Episode 36: Album Dissections: Panorama

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The non-scientific studies continue as Dave and Donna tackle their third album dissection. Considered by some to be the ‘dark horse’ of The Cars’ varied catalog, Panorama offers an intriguing look into a band that has not only managed to stay relevant for 40 years, but to stay true to themselves, as well.

Following their usual protocol, Dave and Donna start with facts and visual observations abour the album, and then dive into the meat of it, layer by layer, investigating what the critics didn’t like about it — and if those opinions were really justified. Because really, how can you NOT love this album? Even John Lennon was a fan, and after all, this record saved ‘teenage Davy’ from a pummeling by a disgruntled ex-boyfriend (“Panorama makes peace!”). And you’ve got Benjamin laughing, Ric screaming, and video game noises before there were video games. This record has it all!

What do you think? Is David physically playing those relentless cymbals in “Panorama” or is it a drum machine? Do you think Benjamin is a natural vocal ad-libber? Is Panorama a self-centered album lyrically? How in the world did “Don’t Go To Pieces” NOT make the track list? Are Ric’s younger years reflected in “Misfit Kid?” Which song off of this album would YOU choose to be your personal ‘grand entrance’ soundtrack?

bufordThere are other shenanigans worked into this episode, too. Dave compares Donna to Buford T. Justice from Smokey and The Bandit, causing her to explain why she censors herself verbally. There’s a plug for the hilarious film Turbocharge: The Unauthorized Story of The Cars, written by David Juskow — don’t forget to like that Turbocharge Facebook page! Another great film (and just in time for Halloween!) is Dante Tomaselli’s re-released horror masterpiece, Desecration. Warning: it’s not for the faint of heart! Dave and Donna wrap up the show on a light note as two sweet friends send their thoughts to the Midnight Scroll, and Rico delights us with an inspired poem contemplating the holy depiction of the members of the band.

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Enjoy!