During the 80's, you couldn't turn on the radio and not hear songs by The Cars, a group whose core members, Ric Ocasek (vocals) and Benjamin Orr (bass), originally hailed from Columbus, Ohio. The band would not coalesce as The Cars until Ocasek and Orr decided to relocate to Boston in 1973.
There, the duo connected with Elliot Easton (guitar) and Greg Hawkes (keyboards), both alumni of the Berklee College of Music, and later drummer David Robinson (known for his prior work with the Modern Lovers.) After receiving their name by Robinson, the group began touring New England, and playing tunes which would wind up on their eponymously-titled debut.
One of those tunes, the radio staple "Just What I Needed" began as part of a mix tape that was forwarded to a DJ at local FM station WBCN. Maxanne Sartori dug the song so much, she added it to her playlist, and believe it or not, by virtue of that radio exposure alone, Elektra Records A&R head George Daly signed The Cars in 1977.
The Cars 1978 debut recording benefited greatly from being at the right place at the right time: it's guitar-driven melodies felt at home alongside the classic rock of artists like Boston and Peter Frampton, while the clever synth passages (played by Hawkes) made it palatable to followers of the emerging "new wave" movement. In addition to "Just What I Needed", the debut spawned the hits "Good Times Roll" and "My Best Friend's Girl."
1979 saw the release of their sophomore effort, Candy-O, an album that became as well known for its provocative cover (courtesy of erotic illustrator Alberto Vargas) as for the songs "Let's Go", "It's All I Can Do" and "Dangerous Type." The albums Shake It Up (1981) and Heartbeat City (1984) followed - while these albums paled in comparison with past work, Heartbeat City would go down in musical history for the uncharacteristic ballad "Drive", whose song and video became a runaway hit.
With a haunting lead vocal by bassist Orr and imagery simpatico with the dramadies of John Hughes, "Drive" would be The Cars biggest-charting tune ever. My personal favorite in the band's canon is their understated 1980 album, Panorama - though not as commercially-successful, it was hailed by many critics at the time: check out tracks like "Touch And Go" and "Gimme Some Slack", and you'll hear for yourself why.
The band broke up in 1988, following the release of Door To Door a year earlier. Lead singer Ocasek vowed there would be no reunions of the group in the foreseeable future. In 2000, Benjamin Orr succumbed to pancreatic cancer, at the age of 53. In the fall of 2010, Ocasek surprised fans and critics alike with a Facebook posting that alluded to the fact that the band was back in the studio recording tracks for a new album.
Less than a year later, in the Spring of 2011, the surviving members of The Cars dropped their reunion album, Move Like This on the Concord Music Group label. The track "Sad Song" was released as a single a couple of months prior. Move Like This debuted at the #7 position on the Billboard Top 100 album chart in May of 2011.