After a 23 year gap, The Cars recently announced they are to release a new record in the spring called Move Like This, and I am genuinely excited about it… Here is a sneak preview of one of the new tracks Blue Tip.
I thought it would be good to whet the appetite for the new record with a brief run down of my favourite record of theirs ‘Heartbeat City’.
It’s not as raw as their self-titled debut record, Heartbeat City was (over)produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange, it’s unselfconscious, cheesy and sounds all the better for it.
It’s not a ‘cool’ record like say,Tom Petty’s ‘Damn the Torpedoes’ or Blondie’s ‘Parallel Lines’, but for an authentic slice of 1984 American Synth Rock, Pop, long before The Killers were swimming in these waters, this was the record to listen to.
No-one does it quite like The Cars, just make sure you leave your street cred at the gates.
They had the weirdest, tallest, skinniest, singer in the world and the lyrics are so shallow they were ‘deep’ (if you know what I mean? ). I loved this record and still do, it has a brilliant gate-fold Pop Art sleeve by Peter Phillips (below) and it has become a bit like an old friend – we don’t see each other as much as we used to, but when we do it’s still great fun.
Here are some Heartbeat City Highlights…
Hello Again – From the opening vocal strains of opener ‘Hello Again’ you might think you were listening to another Mutt Lange produced Def Leppard record, Hysteria… but only for a second… The Cars reign him in and flick the ‘go’ switch on the Fairlight synthesisers.
Cue synth stabs and stereo panning like a US version of Howard Jones and Ultravox. I have an idea keyboard player Greg Hawkes had bought a Fairlight synthesiser and an Emulator keyboard just before they started this record because you can hear them ALOT.
Magic – Balls to the wall soft American rock, (if that isn’t a contradiction in terms). 3 chords, about 5 hook lines, and a great video where Rik walks on water.
Drive – One of a few sung by bassist Ben Orr (sadly no longer with us). Although the most famous Cars song ever, it will always be associated with Band Aid, and it’s too sad for me to enjoy. It’s a shame because although it is a fantastic song, I always have to skip over it.
You Might Think – A big hit in the USA and another great video (below), this time Rik flies round the room with the body of a fly, and the band perform on a sponge in the bath. Part Tom Petty, part Rockabilly, part Beach Boys, it’s radio friendly overload, with everything including the kitchen sink thrown in.
Of course it sounds dated now, that is the point.
This is the song Nirvana should have done an unplugged version of, and not My Best Friend’s Girl which they were used to play. Believe it or not, the video effects were quite groundbreaking in their day.
Lots of Stereo panning on this one, I remember listening to it on headphones while I was falling asleep and nearly jumping out of my skin from its stereo synth thunder. The sounds were literally inside my head. Atmospheric. Best listened to at night in a car.
Every track is good in it’s own way on Heartbeat City, and it hold special memories for me.
I can’t wait to hear the new stuff….