“Just What I Needed” by the Cars at Live Aid

Here’s a great clip of The Cars performing “Just What I Needed” at Live Aid with the late Benjamin Orr on lead vocals.


Seen Your Video: The Cars, “Sad Song”

When Greg Hawkes and Elliot Easton teamed up with Todd Rundgren, Prairie Prince, and Kasim Sulton in 2005 and set out on the road (and, briefly, into the studio) under the name The New Cars, some fans were amused and entertained with the results, but most cried, “Blasphemy!” It’s not as though Ric Ocasek had decried the project – if you can trust Wikipedia, he actually gave his blessing, saying, “I want Elliot and Greg to be happy” – but, really, if the line-up of the band doesn’t feature Ocasek or the late Benjamin Orr, be it old or new, it simply isn’t The Cars.

In July 2010, however, something very surprising happened: out of nowhere, the official Facebook page for The Cars – not The New Cars, mind you, but The Cars – posted a photo of Ocasek, Easton, Hawkes, and even the previously-retired David Robinson back in the studio together.

By October, they’d posted a snippet of a new song entitled “Blue Tip,” and November brought the news that the band was recording an entire album and was toying with the idea of touring behind it. A few other snippets turned up here and there, along with confirmation that the new album would be entitled Move Like This. Now, at last, we have a video for the first single from the album.

You’d be hard pressed to ask for a track that sounds more like the classic Cars sound than “Sad Song,” and the video definitely tries to go for an ’80s feel with its odd visuals (hands pressing through walls, circus people, a mad scientist, weird lighting all around), but while there’s no question that the guys are taking this reunion very seriously, there’s one major element that’s missing from this thing: Mr. Ocasek. He used to be the star of the band’s videos, but if he’s in this thing at all, then it must be only the quickest of glimpses, because it didn’t even register.

Still, it’s a hell of a song. Can’t wait to hear the whole album.


Various Artists: Wizards of Waverly Place

First, we’ll pause as everyone gets their ‘Disney kids suck’ jokes out of their system. All finished? Good, now let’s move on. Truth be told, we nearly deleted the email promoting this CD on sight, but took a cursory glance, then wrote the rep and said, “Send this pronto.” The reason? Cover versions, cover versions and more cover versions of songs having to do with, surprise, magic. Nothing here transcends the original recordings, of course, but some of them fare better than you might expect. Selena Gomez turns in a rather good performance of Pilot’s “Magic” (it is not coincidence that Gomez, the best singer here, gets the album’s first three tracks), and Meaghan Martin turns in a disciplined, if breathy, performance on the cover of Olivia Newton-John’s “Magic.” The boys, however, do not fare as well. Steve Rushton is completely overpowered by ELO’s “Strange Magic” (though producer John Fields assembles a nifty arrangement), as is Mitchel Musso by “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.” Honor Society’s version of the Cars’ “Magic,” meanwhile, is as fluffy and throwaway as the original, and Drew Seeley’s cover of America’s “You Can Do Magic” is destroyed by an oh-so-trendy 6/8 beat and a pinched vocal. The end result is exactly what you’d expect from a collection of Disney-sanctioned covers: overproduced and kid-friendly, but not without its, um, charms. (Walt Disney Records 2009)