Posts Tagged ‘The Cars’

Loyal reader Accused of Lurking is an expert in the music of the 1970s, so naturally he had a few things to say at the conclusion of ’70s Week here at Run-DMSteve.

Here are the links to ’70s Week:

ABBA
America
Queen
AC/DC
Disco
Some of my favorite songs of the decade

And here’s what’s on Lurk’s mind:

“Over the course of one week, you managed to disrespect The Cars, John Sayles, and Heart. I don’t mind very much about Heart, but you will pay for your unkindness to the other two.

“I realize that it is impossible for two people to agree on the Top 25 of anything, unless those two have exactly the same sensibility and exactly the same set of experiences. Maybe twins could do it, but certainly not the two of us.

“As I read through your list, I bounced violently back and forth between ‘Of course!’ and ‘What the f$#k?!?’ With artists that I am particularly fond of and familiar with (Springsteen, Costello, Zeppelin, Guess Who), I disagree with your choices, but would enjoy the conversation about why you chose them. With artists whose oeuvre is less familiar to me (Bowie, Clash, Harrison), I don’t even know the songs. When I then listen to the songs, I wonder how they could have been chosen over songs by these artists that got more airplay.

“The upshot is that I am now trying to compose my own list (which will certainly include The Cars and a whole bunch more women than you). As I re-read your list, I am left with the strong feeling that Run-DMSteve is even more complex than the already complex individual I know, with musical proclivities that may not be mainstream, may not be FDA-certified, and may not be Oxford-comma-worthy, but are certainly proclaimed loudly, with verve, and in almost complete sentences.”

That’s great, Lurk. Now let’s look at the facts.

John Sayles
I’ve never written a word about John Sayles. Until now. David Denby once wrote that John Sayles “doesn’t trust the camera.” I don’t know what that means. I do know that Sayles’ movies don’t look like anyone else’s movies. When I watch one I always feel that I’m sitting farther back in the theater than I actually am.

I enjoyed The Brother From Another Planet and Lone Star. I used to believe that The Big Chill was a cynical rip-off of The Return of the Secaucus 7, but after re-watching both I decided that it didn’t matter because The Big Chill is the superior film. Though if I’m going to watch a movie about a group of like-minded people brought together under stress, I’d rather see The Breakfast Club or Aliens.

Score: Run-DMSteve 1, Accused of Lurking 0. W00t!

The Cars
I saw Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr at a club in Harvard Square in the late ’70s. They were a folk act and they knew how to work the room. The one bon mot I remember came when someone in the crowd asked if they had a record deal. “Almost,” one of them replied. “Arista wants to hear our disco stuff.” I wish they had ventured into disco, but they didn’t and it’s still not feasible to travel back in time and shoot their grandfathers.

I confess that I enjoy two of their songs, “Since You’re Gone” and “A Dream Away,” both from Shake It Up. I would also like to state that, as much as I dislike this band, The Cars at their peak could have disintegrated Hall & Oates with a look. Lastly, Benjamin Orr died recently. He was a huge part of the Boston renaissance in pop music. So I’ll judge this one a tie.

Score: Run-DMSteve 1.5, Accused of Lurking 0.5

Bruce Springsteen
I was kidding when I said that “Backstreets” was one of the few times that Springsteen surpassed “Wild Billy’s Circus Story.” I love The Boss, particularly Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town, Nebraska, and about half each of The River and Born in the USA.

I’ve also come to hear The Rising (2002) for what it is: Springsteen’s great achievement of his late career. Magic (2007) pales next to this. There are 15 songs on this disc and I only like seven, but those seven are solid. “Worlds Apart” and “The Fuse” are particular standouts; they’re very different for him, and really haunt me. The Rising isn’t going to make anyone forget Born in the USA, but as uneven as it is I like it better than anything since that album. It packs a punch, even though some of these cuts pull their punch. Actually, the album reminds me of The River, which was a mess but still had “Independence Day,” “Point Blank,” “Cadillac Ranch,” etc. The Rising is a much more focused mess.

I’ve misled my readers. All three of them.

Score: Run-DMSteve 1.5, Accused of Lurking 1.5. Looks like we got a real pressure cooker going here.

“A whole bunch more women than you”
Accused of Lurking promises us a ’70s All-Star list that redresses the female imbalance that was so apparent in my list. I can’t contest this one at all.

Score: Run-DMSteve 1.5, Accused of Lurking 2.5. Pain train’s comin’, baby!

“May not be Oxford-comma-worthy”
Accused of Lurking, you are witty, incisive, and perceptive. You are fair, principled, and one might even say funky. But on this point you are mistaken, or misled, or possibly deluded. I’ve always believed in what is called the Oxford comma, or the serial comma, or in some quarters the Harvard comma. If in reading this blog you’ve discovered a list of terms, items, or proper nouns that are missing a comma, please bring this lapse to my attention. I’ll fix it tonight, tomorrow, or certainly by the weekend.

Final score: Run-DMSteve 2.5, Accused of Lurking 2.5. Thank you for playing, Accused of Lurking. Too bad you didn’t win a lifetime suppy of Rice-A-Roni or even a lousy copy of our home game.

As for incomplete sentences. What?

Gold: Greatest Hits
1993
More ABBA Gold
1996
What? Still Gold?
OK, I made that one up
ABBA

There was a time in the late 1970s when ABBA ruled. Though they captured the #1 spot on the U.S. Top 40 charts only once (with “Dancing Queen”), everything they recorded for about three years caused a global commotion. ABBA was a cultural force. Without ABBA we wouldn’t have had the film Mama Mia, obviously, but we also wouldn’t have had Muriel’s Wedding. The absence of ABBA would’ve punched a big hole in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. I don’t know if it’s a shame or a blessing that ABBA existed before MTV.

Even U2 likes ABBA, or at least they like “Dancing Queen,” and come on, who doesn’t? It’s one of the iconic songs of the ’70s, the perfect companion to The Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen” and the antidote to just about anything by Queen. Whenever I put on a dance, I could count on “Dancing Queen” to draw every woman onto the dance floor the way Jupiter suctions up moons. Even women who had already left the building felt a disturbance in The Force and surged back inside.

But it’s clear in hindsight – it was clear even while it was happening – that most of ABBA’s songs were solidified crud. It was just a higher grade of crud than what most mainstream pop bands of the era were peddling. Bread and Rod Stewart, for example.

The good songs, though, are very good. “Dancing Queen” exists in a realm beyond criticism. “Take a Chance on Me” is a terrific sing-along number. “S.O.S.” is fun, unless Pierce Brosnan is trying to sing it. “Knowing Me, Knowing You” is not only ABBA’s most complex song, it’s their only song that can be compared to The Beatles without looking ridiculous. How many bands have even one song that can do that? Which reminds me: “Waterloo” should’ve been recorded by Ringo.

Which further reminds me: One of ABBA’s contemporaries, The Cars, are the U.S. version of ABBA. This is particularly evident on “You Might Think” and “Tonight She Comes.” The Cars replaced the female voices with male voices and brought the guitars forward, but otherwise it’s the same froth, different beach.

So here’s a tip of the critic’s pointy hat to Agnetha, Frida, Bjorn, and Benny, and not just because the boys also made the musical Chess. Life wouldn’t have been the same without you. Though I wouldn’t mind living in a world where there was no Fernando to hear the drums and Agnetha and Frida could reliably find a man after midnight.