SIOUX CITY -- The Cars, a group that was lumped into both rock and the New Wave movement of the late 1970s, will be entering the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame later this month.
Many people think that hall inclusion is long overdue, as the group had huge hits up through 1987 and big-selling albums.
Hailing from Boston, the group had two good singers in Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr, who traded off being the lead voices on many singles. Guitarist Elliot Easton was highly accomplished, and other band members were David Robinson on drums and Greg Hawkes on keyboards.
The hall event in Cleveland on April 14 will be bittersweet, as Orr died in 2000 after a battle with cancer. Nonetheless, their pop sensibilities will no doubt be on display when the band members play a few songs.
Their first album, The Cars, had big singles in 1978 with "Just What I Needed" and "My Best Friend's Girl." A 1984 disc, Heartbeat City, was a monster success, containing four big hit singles, including two that made the Top 10, with "You Might Think" and "Drive," plus "Magic" (with a video on which Ocasek seemed to walk on water), which landed at No. 12.
Here is a ranking of the Top 5 Cars songs:
(1) "Let's Go"
This was the first song on their second album, Candy-O, and gave an immediate reminder that the band knew how to craft a superb song. The introduction kicks the song into gear, with each instrument adding in, drums and guitar, then keyboards, then a bass line right before the words start.
The song gets points for the line: "She's got wonderful eyes and a risque mouth."
The song reached No. 14 in 1979. A Rolling Stone magazine critic called it the best song on Candy-O, and it is their top ever in so many ways.
(2) "Shake It Up"
This was the second-highest charting song for the five-man band, rising to No. 4 in February 1982. It is highly effusive, bouncing along until the buoyant chorus of the three words in the title.
(3) "Since You're Gone"
Many other Cars songs charted higher, but "Since You're Gone" should not be overlooked. The song hit No. 41 in 1981, and is another one with a longish building intro before Ocasek tells a tale of lost love.
He sings, "Since you're gone/ I missed the peak sensation/ Since you're gone/ I took the big vacation"
(4) "Touch and Go"
"Touch and Go" is considered a minor hit, reaching #37 in 1980. The song has a different time signature driving it, and Easton lets loose with one of his best guitar solos.
Plus, the song has some of the Ocasek odd wordplay, such as, "In your headlock on the floor/Who could ever ask for more?"
A great live version was played on "Fridays," the television show ABC used in the attempt to vie with "Saturday Night Live." That performance showed what a tight band The Cars could be when performing live.
(5) "Good Times Roll"
This song reached No. 41 in 1979, and achieved a harder rock feel that has resulted in "Good Times Roll" continuing to be a staple to this day on classic rock stations. The song also was notably featured in a "Freaks and Geeks" television show episode.