Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The NEW Cars - Music I Shouldn't Like, But Do!

I always a fan of The Cars, especially their first self-titled album, which is one of those pristine 70's classics right up there with "My Aim Is True" by Elvis Costello, "Are We Not Men" by Devo, etc. I lost track of them a few records in, but evidently one member died a few years ago and Ric Ocasek, the singer/songwriter who seemed to lead the band, went off to a solo career.

So two of the surviving members team up with Todd Rundgren (!) and form "The NEW Cars", a touring band that covers all the great old Cars material, plus a few tunes from Rundgren's solo and Utopia past. Their first release is a 15 track live, 3 track "new in studio" album where Todd mostly imitates Ocasek during one of their few gigs. (I believe one of the members of the band was injured soon after the launch, aborting most of the subsequent tour.)

Anyway, this is usually the sort of disposable, clearly done-for-the-green reunion that would set my teeth on edge. The rhythm section from Creedence Clearwater Revival tours as 'Creedence Clearwater Revisited" and actually had the cajones to release a live set with some guy imitating John Fogerty. That particular release wound up on my "interesting curiosity" shelf.

But the New Cars is actually awfully darn good. I love live material, anyway, and the sound here is heavy and chunky and sounds great on the car stereo, and you get most of the biggest original Cars hits. I even like the new stuff, including one clever song called "Not Tonight" that definitely seems to have the Rundgren whimsy. So what can I say? Worth a listen if you like the Car, Rundgren, live shows, etc...


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