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Non-Prog CD Reviews

The Cars


Review by Gary Hill

It’s always interesting to look at discs like this in retrospect. At the time you can’t escape them if you turn on the radio. When you can have a clean, rather detached listen down the road it shows you what discs deserved that kind of attention and which didn’t. This falls into the “deserving” category. The second disc from The Cars this has a wide range of music on it. I always remembered these guys as being very keyboard oriented, but that’s just the icing on the cake. The guitar work here is quite strong and really rules much of the disc. The vocals and overall arrangements also shine. There are no real clunkers on the album and some real gems. If you haven’t listened to this in a while, dig it out. If you missed it first time around it might be a good time to discover it.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
Let's Go
One of the big hits from this album, the riff that drives this has a great tone. There’s such an intriguing keyboard oriented sound to this. It reminds me of something Gary Numan might have done at this time, if you were to give his music a huge helping of groove. Many times singles aren’t great tunes. That’s not the case here.
Since I Held You
Here we get a slower song. This almost has a bluesy texture – well at least by the standard of The Cars. The only issue with this track is that it’s a bit too much like “Dangerous Type” and that one’s superior to this. Still, the chorus on this is catchy and we get some tasty guitar work. The layered vocals are also a nice touch. 
It's All I Can Do
I like the guitar line on this track a lot. It’s a fairly stripped down number and a great one at that. The chorus has some nice keyboard textures. 
Double Life
This is one of the slowest cuts on show. It’s got a great stripped down texture and somehow this is one of my favorites. It’s definitely not got “hit single” written all over it. Yet it is really catchy in a quirky sort of way.  They power it up with more layers of sound as they carry on and this is another that has some really tasty guitar work. This segues straight into the next piece.
Shoo Be Doo
Coming out of the previous one, this is one of my favorite cuts on show here. It’s essentially a keyboard excursion with echoey spoken vocals over the top. Other sounds echo around in this tasty arrangement. It’s catchy, yet there’s a dramatic, mysterious sense of danger to it. At only a little over a minute and a half in length, it’s also one of the shortest cuts on show here.
The title track has an almost metallic edge to it. OK, it’s probably closer to what would eventually be called techno with its keyboard oriented arrangement. The guitar sound has a real edge to it and this is musically kind of “mean.” It’s also very catchy and one of the highlights of the disc. The guitar on this is arguably the tastiest on the CD and there are also some cool keyboard bits. 
Night Spots
There’s a rubbery sort of feeling to the music on this. The guitar has a nice crunch and the keyboards are quite prominent. Once again the Gary Numan links are obvious. This is another song that’s very strong. The chorus is especially potent and again we get some killer guitar work. I love the keyboard doubled vocal line late in the track, too. This segues straight into the next one with a little Hawkwind like keyboard chirp. 
You Can't Hold On Too Long
This is stripped down and reminds me of Hawkwind meets punk.
Lust For Kicks
A bouncy sort of texture pervades this. It’s got some keyboards that seem a bit like a cheesy old school video game. The vocal line really carries this and saves it.
Got A Lot On My Head
This is one of the harder edged jams on show here. It’s also one of the fastest. There’s a definite punk rock edge to this. The guitar is mean and this is a highlight of the CD and a nice piece of variety. 
Dangerous Type
They close it off with this cool track. A stripped down bouncy song structure makes up the verse segment. As it moves out into the chorus a killer guitar sound adds a lot to the mix. Keyboards soar over in Gary Numan-like fashion. There are some extremely powerful moments here as this arrangement fills out. We also get an extremely tasty “rock and roll” guitar solo. This just seems to keep building and makes for an extremely satisfying conclusion to the disc.
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