The Cars' 1978 self-titled debut, issued on the Elektra label, is a genuine rock masterpiece. The band jokingly referred to the album as their "true greatest-hits album," but it's no exaggeration – all nine tracks are new wave/rock classics, still in rotation on rock radio. Whereas most bands of the late '70s embraced either punk/new wave or hard rock, the Cars were one of the first bands to do the unthinkable – merge the two styles together. Add to it bandleader/songwriter Ric Ocasek's supreme pop sensibilities, and you had an album that appealed to new wavers, rockers, and Top 40 fans. One of the most popular new wave songs ever, "Just What I Needed," is an obvious highlight, as are such familiar hits as "Good Times Roll," "My Best Friend's Girl," and "You're All I've Got Tonight." But like most consummate rock albums, the lesser-known compositions are just as exhilarating: "Don't Cha Stop," "Bye Bye Love," "All Mixed Up," and "Moving in Stereo," the latter featured as an instrumental during a steamy scene in the popular movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
With 68 tracks, most of which I thoroughly enjoy listening to, I had to buy this album as soon as I looked to see what new releases were in the shops. It was a particularly good day for me as I also bought three other new releases, so I've got a busy period of reviewing this week. Many of these tracks will be familiar to fans of 70s pop music, and not just in Britain where this compilation was released. Mainstream pop, rock, soul and disco music inevitably dominate, reflecting the tastes of record buyers at the time. I only started collecting records in 1977, but I listened to a lot of pop radio before then so I became very familiar with these songs. Along the way I had forgotten some, but in most cases I'm pleased to be reminded of them.