Saturday, May 14, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback (for May 13, 2011) on Saturday

Toy Car Bracelet from
[Return of The Cars] -- Friday Flashback on a Saturday evening? Yeah, well, Blogger was a bit off on Thursday night, and then I was in an all-day business meeting on Friday followed by a class today. So, Saturday, May 14, is my first chance to post the Flashback for May 13. I hope all my fellow 80s-philes weren't too lost without their Friday fix. 

Let's get right down to business.

In case you haven't heard, The Cars released a new studio album this week, their first since 1987! It's getting some good press (Consequence of Sound, Salt Lake Tribune), while other reviewers are disappointed with how reminiscent it is of their earlier work. Sounds like this might be an opportune time to go back and revisit The Cars' 80s catalog. With four studio releases between 1980 and 1987, there are plenty of flashback options. So what three Cars' classics have I revved up for you this week? Read and hear more after the jump.

Flashback #1"All I need is what you've got | All I'll tell is what you're not | All you know is what you hear | I get this way when you come near."

Having released two albums that solidified their place at the forefront guitar-oriented synth-pop, The Cars went a little more experimental on their third studio album: Panorama (1980). Critically panned as something of a drag (2.5 stars on, this album did yield one top 40 hit, "Touch And Go." It also heralded the pop-rock sound that would become prominent on their next two records. Oh, and despite the reviews, Panorama hit the #5 spot on the Billboard 200 chart.

Flashback #2"Big city noise disappears | Sucker punch is in your heart | Light is reason, light is clue | My shape is shapeless in your suit."

From 1978 to 1988, bassist Benjamin Orr sang lead on only seven out of The Cars' 24 singles. But his performances were among the band's most memorable, so I would feel remiss if I didn't include him in a Flashback post dedicated to The Cars. And the fact that they have a new album is somewhat bittersweet because Orr could not be part of it: he passed away October 4, 2000, six months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. But in 1981, Orr sang lead on "Cruiser," the second single from Shake It Up (1981) as well as the B-Side for the title track. It was only a minor top 40 hit, but it earned critical praise. It might very well be the best collaboration between Benjamin Orr and Ric Ocasek, who wrote the song for Ben to sing.

Flashback #3
"You might think it's hysterical | But I know when you're weak | You think you're in the movies | And everything's so deep."

The Cars released five albums, one album per year, from 1978 to 1982. Following the 1982 tour, the band took a break to pursue solo projects. They reunited two years later for their most successful album: Heartbeat City (1984). This "Mutt" Lange produced record yielded five American Top 40 singles. The video for the first single, "You Might Think" (1984), was of the first videos to use computer graphics. It won Video of the Year at the first MTV Video Music Awards as well as several other awards at other awards shows. It even influenced later videos, notably "Don't Lose My Number" by Phil Collins. 

Once again, I remind you that the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks. As I've made my three offerings, that's all till next week. But if you 80s-philes need more flashbacks, please visit the archives. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If you don't like the flashback, share it with your enemies.

I'll see you in seven! (Well, six).

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