The Cars albums ranked article takes a look at a rock and roll band from Boston who released their first album in 1978 turning heads with a sound that many say inspired New Wave Music. The first time I ever heard the band The Cars, I could have sworn they were from England. There was just something British about them, so in many ways it did make sense that they were from Boston. The band The Cars blew away all of our Rock and Roll hair with their first single “Just What I Needed,” released on that debut album The Cars. As great as that original single was every song on their debut album was spectacular. The band’s five original members included Ric Ocasek singing lead vocals and playing some rhythm guitar, Benjamin Orr singing lead vocals and playing bass, Elliot Easton playing some incredible lead guitar, Greg Hawkes transcending the keyboard to sound like no other keyboardist in rock, and David Robinson rocking out on the drums.
The Cars were a tight band. All the musicians in the group paid their dues playing the clubs. Combining a band that was so tight with a set of original songs arranged in a manner that was pretty much unlike anything else on the radio at the time was simply a recipe for success that would not fail. And it didn’t. The Cars’ debut album broke big time. It became a top 20 album on the Billboard top 200 albums charts. A year later, The Cars proved they were not a one-hit album band. Their follow-up album Candy-O which was released in the spring of 1979 was an even being bigger selling album than their debut.
The Cars continued releasing albums on a yearly basis with the issue of Panorama in 1980. The band’s fourth album was entitled Shake It Up which was released in 1982. However it was the album Heartbeat City released in 1984 that turned the cars into one of the biggest bands in the world. The Heartbeat City album was a monster. The band peaked with Heartbeat City. The band released their fifth album four years later entitled Door-to-Door. It was The Cars least studio album of their career up to that point. Some of the magic was just missing on that album. It also proved to be the last Cars album to feature vocalist Benjamin Orr who would die of pancreatic cancer in 2000.
One final Cars album was released in 2011 entitled Move Like This. Eight years later Ric Ocasek would pass away.
The Cars were one of the truly great American rock and roll bands to initially have such a major influence on the new wave movement. Yet, their songs became so deeply entrenched in the cannon of rock and roll music that music fans just remember them for what they were….a great band, delivering great songs in a very original and unique way that became part of our daily lives throughout the late seventies and decade of the 1980s.
# 7 – Door To Door
We open up our Cars Albums list with their final album as a quintet entitled Door To Door. The album was released in 1987. The highest charting single from the album was the lead single entuited “You Are The Girl,” which peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100. We tray to stay positive on this site, but this album….well it wasn’t one of our favorites. The Cars broke up not too long after this album was released.
# 6 – Move Like This
Most fans never thought they would never see another Cars album again after the Door To Door studio album. Benjamin Orr and Ric Ocasek had released solo albums. The band members all went their separate ways. There was also that strange New Cars band with Todd Rundgren singing lead that just felt so odd. Sadly, Benjamin Orr passed away in 2000. So it was surprising to hear the news that The Cars were releasing a new album in 2011 entitled Move Like This. Even more interesting was how good the album was. Looking back especially after the passing of Ric Ocasek it’s sort of a special album. The title track is completely addicting in the same sense some of the songs were on the first album. The band had recaptured a part of their magic. If only Benjamin had been a part of it.
# 5 – Panorama
After the band’s first two albums, Panorama was a bit of a letdown for fans. It’s still a great Cars album, but the band seemed to be making an effort to not repeat themselves which in hindsight was probably a mistake, since what they had created on their first two albums was just stunning pop rock music that everyone fell in love with.
# 4 – Shake It Up
The Cars Shake It Up album was the band’s fourth studio album release. The album was released in 1981. The lead single and also the title track “Shake It Up,” became the band’s first top 10 single which is kinda hard to believe based on the great songs released on their first two albums. MTV played a heavy hand in promoting this album as the video for “Shake It Up,” got heavy airplay.
# 3 – Heartbeat City
1984 was one of the most competitive years in pop music with the battles between Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Huey Lewis and Prince for the number one spot. The Cars gave everyone a run for their money with their biggest selling album of their career entitled Heartbeat City. Six singles were released from the album with the band celebrating two top ten singles on the Billboard Hot 100 entitled “You Might Think,” and “Magic.” The Heartbeat City album reached all the way up to the number three spot on the Billboard 200 albums charts. It hit number one on the Billboard US Rock albums.
# 2 – The Cars
The 70s were such a great time to grow up because it seemed every six months a new soon to be legendary band was arriving on the scene. Groups like Boston, Foreigner, Heart, Cheap Trick, and so on all released their debut albums between 1976 and 1978. The Cars debut was one of the most spectacular. Who can ever forget hearing that opening riff to “Good Times Roll,” that started out the album. Then it was into the handclaps of “My Best Friend’s Girl,” that spiraled magically into the album’s lead single “Just What I Needed.” What an opening three songs. Side two’s “You’re All I Got Tonight,” was a monster rock and roll hit and stands as one of the greatest Cars songs ever released. And of course there is the fan favorite “Moving In Stereo. ” Does it get any better than this? …….read on.
# 1 – Candy-O
We close out our Cars albums ranked list with the band’s sophomore effort entitled Candy-O. This fabulous album was released in 1979. Produced by the great Roy Thomas Baker who did such amazing work with the band Queen, The Cars didn’t waste any time revving their engines up in releasing their amazing follow up to their astonishing debut album. The Cars album Candy-O opened up with the fun filled track “Let’s Go,” sung by the great Benjamin Orr. The song was a top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 peaking at number 14. The album’s second single entitled “It’s All I Can Do,” just missed out on the Billboard Hot 100’S top 40 peaking at number 41. Singles were not the only thing that mattered because every track on this album was great. One of our all time favorites was side one’s closing number and title track “Candy-O,” with another great vocal by Benjamin Orr.
Other standout tracks on the cars Candy-O album were side two’s opening track Night Spots sung by Ric Ocasek and the last two tracks on the album “Got a Lot On My Head,” and “Dangerous Type.”
The Cars Albums Ranked article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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