Cars back in the fast lane with first release in decades

In May 1978, shortly after the spring semester was over, I was invited to Denver by a classmate and dear friend. She wanted some company to spend time with her and her family. At that time, I didn’t have a car, so Terri’s mother bought me an airplane ticket on the condition that I would do some painting at their 6,600-square-foot house.

Terri’s parents owned several restaurants in Denver at the time: Gator McGoon’s, Turn of the Century, Lady and the Dove and Lyle Alzado’s, where I got to meet Denver Broncos defensive end Lyle Alzado. The restaurants were scattered throughout Denver. Terri had a fast, sporty car and we tooled around the city for three days and nights. I think the only thing we listened to was the Cars’ first album.

Just released earlier that month, it was like nothing we had ever heard before. Coming on the heels of the short-lived disco craze of 1976 and ‘77, the Boston-based Cars had taken New Wave, punk and pop and mixed it with hard rock to create one of the most dazzling debut albums ever, and one that remains an all-time rock classic.

There are nine great songs on that self-titled album, four of which were big hits. The other five, to me, are as good as the hits, and all nine of them are still in regular rotation on many FM radio stations. It seems like yesterday that Terri and I and her numerous friends were cruising Broadway, Colfax, Hampden and Havana in Denver, listening to the Cars’ first album as loud as we could stand it.

When I came back from that trip and played the album for my roommates in the party house on Country Club Park, one of them said, “I didn’t know you like punk!” I still don’t think he gets it. Shortly after that, I began dating my future wife, Kenda, and she became a big fan of the Cars.

After the Cars’ official breakup in 1988, several of them pursued solo careers with varied amounts of success. In 2000, the Cars’ great bassist, Benjamin Orr, died of pancreatic cancer. In 2005, Todd Rundgren and two former members formed the New Cars, producing one live recording before Rundgren went back to his solo career.

All of the Cars’ albums were very good, but not one of them came close to the first album until 1984’s “Heartbeat City.”

Then in 2010, the original band reunited and the wonderful result sounds to me like their first album in song style, musicianship and creativity.

On May 10, 33 years after the Cars’ landmark debut recording and 23 years to the day after we opened Triple Play Records, the Cars released, in my opinion, their second-best recording. The appropriately titled “Move Like This” is a 10-song instant classic with absolutely no filler.

The music is catchy, infectious, clever and bright without being presumptuous. From the irresistible opening notes of “Blue Tip” and “It’s Too Late” to the heartfelt love songs “Soon” and “Take Another Look,” “Move Like This” is classic Cars through and through.

By the way, Kenda loves it, as do two of her co-workers.

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Rock Cesario owns Triple Play Records, 530 Main St., and hosts “Acoustic Sunday” from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday on Drive 105.3 FM. Email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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