The Cars Debut Album Turns 40

We Celebrate the Iconic Album by Selecting the Best Song

40 years ago this week, The Cars released their amazing debut album.  At the time, no one realized how timeless that 1978 release would be, but today it remains as relevant and compelling as ever.  The album featured nine songs, with no weak links to be found.

We put our esteemed Union of Dunces to work.  Which of these classic songs on the first Cars album was the best?

A little info about the album before we dig in.   All of the songs were penned solely by guitarist Rik Ocasek with the exception of “Moving In Stereo” which was a collaboration with keyboard player Greg Hawkes.  Even though Ocasek wrote most of the music, bassist Benjamin Orr offered up the distinctive voice behind half of the tunes, including my favorite.

The Cars Track Listing

1. “Good Times Roll”
2. “My Best Friend’s Girl”
3. “Just What I Needed”
4. “I’m in Touch with Your World”
5. “Don’t Cha Stop”
6. “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight”
7. “Bye Bye Love”
8. “Moving in Stereo”
9. “All Mixed Up”

Which Song on the Cars Debut Album is the Best?
    • Scott: “Moving in Stereo/All Mixed Up” (it would be unpardonable to separate these two) – Though I can’t say this song’s sound came out of nowhere during the mid 70’s disco craze – as the booming rhythm owes a lot to Bowie and Eno locking themselves up in Electric Ladyland in NYC creating what became “Fame” a few years earlier. The commercial “new wave” production of the song, which has a very basic structure (and great lyrics), is what separates itself from the rest of the album and the time it was made.
  • Cretin: “All Mixed Up” – It really belongs as a combo pick with “Moving In Stereo.” On an album packed with wonderful songs, these two are perfect together. But, if I have to pick one, it’s this.  Orr’s vocals are spectacular and passionate, even more impressive when you consider he’s singing Ocasek’s lyrics.  (Note that I did not take the easy way out Scott)
  • Piks: Amazing to me that this was released 40 years ago. It was a brilliant album in ‘78 and listening to it today you can hear it was way ahead of its time. Picking my favorite song off this is almost impossible as there are so many great songs. Okay, with a gun to my head I’d have to say “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight”. No “All Mixed Up”. No wait “Bye Bye Love”. Hold on… BANG. Damn.
  • John: 40 years ago The Cars put out one of the best debut albums ever. My favorite song and the reason why? Song: “Moving In Stereo.” The reason – 6 words… Pheobe Cates Fastimes at Ridgemont High.
  • Jim: “Just What I Needed“- There are so many great things about this song, the way the song builds with each added instrument, the chugging motion of the song, the pure, clear lead vocal, the background vocals calling out, and an overall great mix of the song. This is the defining Cars song for me.
  • Brian: There are six top-notch songs on this album but “Bye, Bye, Love” is by far the best. Reminded me a little of The Ramones when I first heard it. Great lyrics and an even better beat.
  • JQThe Cars Debut 40 years

The Dunces have spoken and the seven of us selected 6 different songs, none of which were their two biggest singles, “Good Times Roll” nor “Best Friend’s Girl.”  That my friends shows the depth of the album. Impressive.

Two interesting tidbits.  6 of 7 reviewers selected songs sung by Benjamin Orr, and 6 of 7 picked tunes on Side 2 (for all of you who remember vinyl).

So, The Dunces have spoken, were they in touch with your world?

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