Tuesday, December 5, 2006

let them brush your rock and roll hair...

Alright, that's it - I'm in. I can't hold out any longer. So, (in my best Casey Kasem voice) coming in at #20:

The Cars - The Cars (1978)

The cover art gets to the heart of what this album was all about - the revival of a 1950s-era obsession with big cars and glammed-out women, all fed through the clear-plastic steering wheel of New Wave synth. When people say the 1980s were the 1950s, they ain't just talking about the pro-business Republican president and big hair. Seriously, would any of the following song titles be out of place on an Eddie Cochran record? "Good Times Roll", "My Best Friend's Girl" or "Bye Bye Love"? Ocasek's vocal inflections on "Best Friend's Girl" are a none-too-subtle nod to the stylings of Buddy Holly, and while few 1950s records included lyrics like "right here your hands are soft and creamy/right here your mouth is wet and dreamy" or "I don't care if you use me again/i don't care if you abuse me again", The Cars simply took the burgeoning teenage youth sexual culture of the postwar era to its new punk and post-porn heights.

Serious points have to be deducted for "I'm in Touch With Your World" but other than that regrettable misstep, this album is tight through and through.
Plus, we have Ric Ocasek to thank for the genius that is the first Weezer album. I can only imagine the joy that must have crossed his face when Rivers Cuomo walked in and said "I've got this song called 'Buddy Holly'...." (Also, curiously, both this album and Weezer's Blue Album would make the list of "best debut albums in rock history" and the best albums by both respective bands)

I hope and pray there is a special level of hell reserved for Circuit City for reducing the sexual angst and obsession of "Just What I Needed" into an anthem to sell plasma TVs.
Also, as we honor the Cars here, let us never speak of "Drive.

Best Tracks: Just What I Needed, You're All I've Got Tonight, All Mixed Up (not to be confused with the equally brilliant Red House Painters cover)
Best Listened to: When you just aren't feeling New Wave enough


Big Cougar said...

Now the countdown is complete - your posts have been just what I needed. Welcome. And enjoy, brother.

Papa Shoegaze said...

are you that guy that gave me that tour of that college in Bristol, TN?

Sugar Mama said...

I thought I was crazy when I realized Hearbeat City is in my top 30. I didn't know anyone else appreciated The Cars.

Papa Shoegaze said...

hey, 'drive' reminds me vividly of driving around in my parents vega or dodge dart sitting in the back seat with my sis eating M&M's. i like that memory, and that song.