Though starting out in the late 70's as part of the New Wave/pop sound, the Cars unique sound of running bass line, rhythm guitar, and prominent keyboards helped define the sound of the 1980's.
The ongoing bass pulse with guitar riffs defining their first single "Just What I Needed" gives the girl in the song a lackadaiscal, left-handed compliment as well as visual observations: "I don't mind you coming here, wasting all my time" and "it's not the perfume that you wear/it's not the ribbons in your hair."
The instrumentation and harmonies that accompany "Here she comes again when she's dancing underneath the starry sky" from "My Best Friend's Girl" is a sign of the sound that would explode into hit-mania in Heartbeat City. And "Let The Good Times Roll" with its layered backing vocals was another defining sound with the Cars.
Judging a group solely by the number of Top Forty or Top Ten hits isn't always a good barometer. The Cars didn't have many during their decade-long career, and only four of those hit the Top Ten. And it took till their fourth album, Shake It Up, to do so. The first one of those was "Shake It Up", whose pulsing racing synths and upbeat drums, and Ocasek's quirky voice, which to me is the epitomy of the Cars sound.
"You Might Think" with its pulsing keyboards, rhythm guitar, and heavy guitar, is my second favourite song, and a more produced sound is apparent here without sacrificing the usual Cars sound. I remember this from the video where Ric Ocasek turned into a flying insect. This came from their Heartbeat City, their masterpiece album produced by Mutt Lange. Also from there is my favourite Cars song, their highest charting one, the haunting and sombre Ben Orr-sung ballad "Drive" which got to #3 on the charts abetted by its multiple atmospheric synths. The girl in this song seems in need of a reality check or a fast lifestyle with that refrain "you can't go on thinking nothing's wrong/who's gonna drive you home tonight?" The verses consist of questions to this girl: "who's gonna pay attention to your dreams/who's gonna plug your ears when you scream?" A similar feel was later attained in Orr's solo single hit "Stay The Night."
The #7 "Tonight She Comes" was their fourth and last Top Ten single. The new song from their Greatest Hits, it was just as quick-tempoed as "You Might Think" with a cool guitar solo by Easton, but by 1985, the arrival of new groups and the novelty of New Wave was dying down.
With the exception of "Drive", they didn't seem to have much luck on their moodier songs such as "Since You're Gone" or the keyboard-oriented "I'm Not The One."
Of the other three singles from Heartbeat City, "Magic" scores great with its opening space-age sounds and the hard guitars even though the tempo's a bit slower than "You Might Think." "Hello Again" is good, but its #20 showing denoted that the album was selling more, and was "oversingled" by the time "Why Can't I Have You" was released.
As for their last Top Forty hit, "You Are The Girl", it was more of the same but more polished and programmed. The song itself is more musing and romantic, and lyrical, "why don't you flash that smile like you used to do?" and "You are the girl in my dreams", and I'm partial to it due to the crazy sci-fi/planet of alien women video it spawned.
A more budget-priced and hence hit-efficient compilation compared to the sprawling Just What I Needed anthology, Complete Greatest Hits has the essentials in one disc, with peak positions and release dates for the albums and singles included.
on June 21, 2002
This album is called the "Complete" Greatest Hits because it is an update of the previous Greatest Hits, released prior to their final album, Door To Door. Not only does the earlier release not cover the entire Cars catalog, it was released during the vinyl-era, when it was still common to release cd's containing only 40 to 50 minutes of music to corresponded to their vinyl counterparts. All of the tracks on the original Greatest Hits are here with the exception of the song "Heartbeat City", which seems to have been replaced in favor of "Why Can't I Have You" (why can't we have Heartbeat City is more like it!).
If you are a die-hard or just casual Cars fan considering this purchase, it is a very strong single disk compilation which is literally packed with over 79 minutes of music (the maximum). If you haven't already picked up the "Just What I Needed" 2CD Anthology, you can't go wrong. Everyone has their opinion of what should be on a compiliation album, but based on the wealth of material available, this collection would be hard to improve.
Another reviewer of this album wrote 'I could have done without "Tonight She Comes" and "You Are the Girl", both of which I consider inferior songs and which were not included in the original "Greatest Hits"'. Correction, "Tonight She Comes" was a new song released only on the original Greatest Hits and became a huge hit, while "You Are The Girl" (also a top-ten hit from Door to Door, 1987) was not even written at the time of the original Greatest Hits, 1985. It is unfortunate that "You Are the Girl" is the only inclusion from their final album, Door To Door. The title track or Ta Ta Wayo would have also been worthwhile additions, but there is no room for more!
The Cars were a group destined to be quickly forgotten in terms of who they were, for they lived professional lives that were marginal in the sense that they recorded and toured, but were hardly interested in the hard rock life style. Instead, it is the body of music that they left behind that will be remembered, for they were incredibly successful at turning out song after song, with each dancing its way all the way into the top ten hit list. From "Just What I Needed' to "Since You're Gone", from "You Might Think", from "Good Times Roll" to "Touch And Go", this is a collection of songs that make you want to hear more. And there is plenty more here for your listening enjoyment, from "Drive" to "Tonight She Comes", from "My Best Friend's Girl" to "Heartbeat City", from "let's Go" to "I'm Not The One". My personal favorites here are "Magic", and of course, the terrific "Shake It Up", but all of these songs are great. Enjoy!
on February 20, 2002
This definitely improves on the 1985 release "The Cars Greatest Hits", and may appeal to casual fans a lot more than the excellent-but-sprawling "Just What I Needed: The Cars Anthology". But it leaves out three favorites of mine - "Candy-O", "Don't Tell Me No", and "Gimme Some Slack". All three were singles, but all three appealed more to the band's New Wave fans than the Top 40 crowd. All three of them are available on JWIN, however, JWIN omits the excellent "Bye-Bye Love", which should rightly be there side-by-side with its companion piece "Moving In Stereo" like it is here on "The Complete Greatest Hits".
I own JWIN and the Cars' self-titled debut, so I'm as complete as I need to be. This would be an excellent CD for anyone who doesn't care about "Candy-O" or any of the other tracks I mentioned above.
The Cars sound may be best described as absolutely kinetic. They were the epitome of the decade from their three to four chord riffs, space-age synth sound, and lead singer Ric Ocasek's hynotic vocals and their hilarious "You Might Think" but also critically acclaimed "Drive" MTV videos that made the band the so-called forefathers of the music video age. Aside from their performance art that came after the music, this collection of 20 of their well-known radio hits appropriately titled Greatest Hits (US Release), gives the listener that may not heard of the band a tremendous dose of the distinct Cars sound that spanned from 1978 to 1987.
That sound clearly shows with the opener and classic "Just What I needed" and other tracks from their debut self-titled album "My Best Friend's Girlfriend," "Good Times Roll," "You're All I Got Tonight," and "Moving in Stereo." The album continues on with hits off of Candy-O "Let's Go," Panorama "Touch and Go," Shake it Up and its top and windows down tracks "Shake it Up" and the semi-Bob Dylanesque vocals on "Since You've Gone" and tender "I'm Not the One," and then concludes with other memorable tunes of the late 1980s "Tonight She Comes," "Hello Again", and "You are the Girl."
Greatest Hits is a fine collection of the quintessential New-Wave band of the 1980s that typified power pop. And thereafter other bands will carry on that sound.
on October 10, 2003
This compliation by the Cars is an excellent overview of the band's career which more than lives up to its title. Not only will you get all of the Cars' most well known hits ("You Might Think," "Magic," or "Good Times Roll" to name but a few) but you'll also get to hear some killer album cuts such as "You're All I've Got Tonight" and "Dangerous Type." This is by far the best introduction to the group for casual listeners. I have to admit that I didn't listen to the Cars much until I bought this CD recently, but lately I have really been digging many of the songs here, and I have discovered why the Cars were one of the most clever and idiosyncratic bands of the 80s. In fact, they were leagues above most (if not all) of the other mainstream bands of that era.
As for my favorite songs on this album, I like most of them, but I really get a big kick out of "Just What I Needed" and "Since You're Gone," which has to be my favorite Cars songs and one of the most beautiful songs I've heard in a long time. That lonely, haunting intro still gets me, and its desolate atmosphere makes me picture a lone man walking aimlessly down a deserted road while reflecting on something. I tend to go for walks when I'm thinking deeply. Anyway, I think "Since You're Gone" is an ideal song that you would listen to comfort yourself after breaking up with your girlfriend/boyfriend. I don't have a girlfriend, but if I did, I would definitely feel a resonance in this song after breaking up. The longing, the hurt, and the passion are all there, right in the space of three and a half minutes. Sorry to rant and rave on this one song, but it is so beautiful that I can't help but love it.
If you're looking to get into the Cars and don't want to spring for all of their albums, this is a great way to go. This is by far the most thorough introduction to the band, and I guarantee that the comprehensive liner notes and the extensive track selection will give you a very clear picture of what the Cars were all about after you finish listening. The Cars were really at their best as a singles band anyway, so to have a "greatest hits" CD with 20 tracks on it is really quite impressive. So anyway, look no further than this great CD. It will definitely turn out to be "just what you needed."
on February 8, 2003
Sit down...start your stereo...and cruise with The Cars ! Even owning the "anthology" two CD set...I recently bought this collection...and I like it better ! Other reviewers here cover details well...so I'll give you a general review of the CD.
First...once again...you can't go wrong with a Rhino release ! As with other artists and groups...the sound quality here is exceptional...pristine...even though The Cars origional production was very good in my opinion.
Secondly...if you like "extras" which we all do sometimes...get the 2 CD set...but for a smooth cruise through The Cars music history....everything you want is right here in this collection.
Finally...Rhino provides a very fine Cars story and song breakdown in a booklet that's interesting to read. Definitely get "The Cars Complete Greatest Hits"...you'll get great mileage with this ride !
Looking back, I sometimes think of the '80s as kind of a wasteland of rock music--dominated by Duran Duran, Simple Minds, Tears for Fears and the like, but an impulsive, successful Karaoke rendition of "Best Friend's Girl" inspired me to buy this compilation of the best songs by one of the best bands of that era--The Cars. The band had a great mix--just edgy enough not to be pop, but catchy enough to grab your attention, without the sledgehammer hooks of the contemporaneous Huey Lewis and the News. The accompanying CD book describes well the evolution of the band and their sound. Overall, there's nothing here that will save the world, but right now a good mix of singable tunes artfully arranged, played with spirit (like "Let's Go") and sold at a reasonable price is just what I needed.
on July 20, 2006
OK, let's get this straight. If you're looking for an intro to the Cars, a cheat sheet, get this disc. DON'T GET THE 1985 GREATEST HITS DISC! This disc sonically is far superior, has 20 songs versus 13 on the older one, and "Moving in Stereo", "It's All I Can Do", and "Bye Bye Love" among others. I find this disc routinely shows up for around $10 (and even less). I originally wrote this review a few years ago, and since then the older one is now available at a slightly cheaper price, and it has to be because warehouses are trying to clear out the older version. If you're finding yourself trying to choose between the older one and spending another couple of bucks on this one, it's a no brainer. It really is. Don't waste your time (or $$) on the other one. Having said that, hopefully after you purchase this one, you still get the Cars' debut. Sure, 6 of the 9 songs on that album are here, but there's a cohesion with that album that makes it necessary (and the 3 songs that aren't here are pretty damn good, especially "All Mixed Up"). And, if you like the 3 songs on this CD that are from the Candy-O album, get that album too. That one is another classic, start to finish.
One more thing. If you do decide to spring for the debut and Candy-O, get the remastered versions and if it's cheap enough, get the Rhino 2-CD version of the debut. You won't be sorry, although the first album is available as a single disc remaster that's well worth it, too.
Now, why they haven't remastered "Shake It Up" and "Heartbeat City" is beyond me. They're both good albums (not as great as the first two), but if they found a way to remaster "Panorama" (yeah, there was a Cars album between "Candy-O" and "Shake It Up" that most have forgotten, and for good reason) then come on.
on March 18, 2002
I opted for this rather than the two-CD anthology. The Cars were clearly in the upper echelon of 80's bands. It occurred to me that I lean over and crank up the radio almost every time The Cars are played on the local FM station, so I was pleased to see this new CD compilation when I started looking. As with almost everything Rhino does, this is a solid product -- an intelligent, informative booklet; excellent sound quality; and a not-too-many, not-too-few selection of songs. At least 8-10 of these are true classics, and there isn't a real dud in the bunch. The Cars remind me of Blondie -- tunes so catchy that they'd be dismissed as bubble gum if it it weren't for the intelligence and quirky cleverness of the lyrics and the slightly weird, hip aura of Ric Ocasek (who seems like he would've fit right in with The Velvet Underground or some other artsy band). I'd say that this CD is an excellent choice if you want all The Cars' material that you're likely to remember from the 80's but don't want to take a chance on the anthology.