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The Cars

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The Cars
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Bonding singer/guitarist Ric Ocasek’s smart, cynical songwriting with sleek and sexy modern pop, The Cars became the most successful American band of the original New Wave, achieving album rock omnipresence and MTV superstardom in the 1980s. The Boston band’s self-titled 1978 debut was produced in England by Roy Thomas Baker, known for his work with Queen and later an Elektra A&R executive. With hits like “My Best Friend’s Girl,” “Just What I Needed,” and “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight,” the album went on to sell in excess of 6 million in the U.S. alone.
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Candy-O further refined the debut’s bubblegum art-rock, ruling the airwaves in 1979 with anthems like “Dangerous Type” and the pop hit, “Let’s Go.” The album peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200, ultimately receiving four-times RIAA platinum certification. Panorama, released in 1980, saw the band experimenting with darker, more progressive sounds, but still reached the Billboard 200 top 5 and RIAA platinum status. 1981’s Shake It Up proved as high-spirited as its predecessor was moody, earning two-times platinum certification on yielding top 5 pop hits like the playful title track. The band literally shook things up in 1984, co-producing Heartbeat City with Robert John “Mutt” Lange (AC/DC, Def Leppard), resulting in the most ambitious album of their discography. It’s also among their most successful, with five Top 40 pop hits – including the #3 “Drive” and #7 “You Might Think.” What’s more, its innovative videos – including the Andy Warhol-directed “Hello Again” – were heavy rotation smashes at the heart of MTV’s exploding popularity. Heartbeat City earned four-times RIAA platinum, topped the following year by the six-times platinum-certified Greatest Hits compilation. After a hiatus that saw Ocasek, singer/bassist Benjamin Orr, and guitarist Elliot Easton releasing solo collections, The Cars reconvened for their final album, 1987’s Door To Door. The post-Cars years saw Ocasek continuing his solo career, while also becoming a top-flight producer (Weezer, Hole, No Doubt) as well as a member of Elektra’s own A&R staff. Drummer David Robinson retired from music, with Easton and keyboardist Greg Hawkes recently teaming with Todd Rundgren as The New Cars. Sadly, Orr lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in October 2000; he was 53.
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