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Ric Ocasek, man...Ric Ocasek.

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Ric Ocasek, man...Ric Ocasek.
September 16, 2019 01:00AM
I hate to start this conversation, but you’ve probably already heard. Candy-O was such a big part of my musical upbringing. I had absolutely no idea he was 75, or in his mid 30’s upon the Cars debut.
Re: Ric Ocasek, man...Ric Ocasek.
September 16, 2019 10:42AM
RIP.
Re: Ric Ocasek, man...Ric Ocasek.
September 16, 2019 11:37AM
Dang. Maybe it's time for more New Cars? I was a fan of that in concept, at least. Ocasek sure was a quirky dude for a major roxxtar. Was just listening to the DLX RM of "The Cars" on a road trip with my wife recently. What an embarrassment of riches that album was. Yet economical as well. Only nine strong songs. That album got so much in the way of FM Rock airplay that there's practically no deep cuts on it! Hearing a song like "I'm In touch With Your World" was jarring to me because every other song on the album was very familiar through FM Rock airplay in '78-'79. The bonus CD of demos on that DLX RM of "The Cars" was revelatory. Roy Thomas Baker basically goosed the vocal harmonies a little but really, they had that sound and album down cold before it was ever recorded.

I guess Ocasek's relative maturity for a "rocker" helped his focus. Dang! He was 34 then "The Cars" was released! That's a late-bloomer to put even Bryan Ferry [27 when "Roxy Music" hit] and John Foxx [29 when "Ultravox!" dropped] very much in the shade.

The Cars were never a fave rave; I had bigger and better fish to fry, but they were admirable for a band that popular. I enjoyed the dual lead vocalists they had in Ocasek and Orr. It was especially cool that they managed to have a plethora of hits with each singer. The Cars really were America's answer to Roxy Music and probably a thorn in the side of Bryan Ferry, who looked at them and only saw the platinum that evaded his reach. ironically aiming for The Cars sound with "Over You" from the "Flesh = Blood" album… to no avail.



Former TP subscriber [81, 82, 83, 84]

[postpunkmonk.com]
For further rumination on the Fresh New Sound of Yesterday®
Re: Ric Ocasek, man...Ric Ocasek.
September 16, 2019 12:15PM
I remember hearing "Let's Go" on the radio in the late 70s while on a trip with my church youth group. I loved it, but my first actual Cars album was Heartbeat City, an album I recently reconnected with. I didn't realize they had two lead singers until "Drive" was a hit - I think in part because on "Let's Go," which was my standard for them, Ben Orr was essentially imitating his boss's vocal style.

Anyway, Ocasek was unusually subversive for a mainstream rocker, championing and/or producing Bad Brains, Suicide, D Generation, Bad Religion and Guided By Voices. (And, uh, Weezer, but I guess I can forgive him for that.) As Monk notes, that first Cars album is damn near flawless, and I can't think of a band with a greatest hits collection that's as crazily catchy AND downright weird as theirs.

I was also recently picked up Ocasek's first solo album Beatitude, which is a strong work in its own right. I can't speak for the rest of his solo albums (I had This Side of Paradise when it came out, but I honestly don't remember it now), but that one's worth digging up.

I was literally sitting at a table last night interviewing a musician when a friend texted me the news. I had to ignore it and stick to the task at hand. I feel like I'm having a delayed reaction.
Re: Ric Ocasek, man...Ric Ocasek.
September 16, 2019 02:06PM
I was at the Mark Knopfler concert last night when my wife texted me the news. Man, I was gutted. (But, I guess, not so gutted that I couldn't enjoy the concert. More on that later.)

To me, The Cars were like the first breath of fresh air, after being uprooted from my home in CO and moving to LA, right before my senior year.

That first album was an instant classic -- and not one of the pre-ordained kind, that's for sure. Track for track, The Cars earned its classic status. None of the albums that followed was a disappointment, IMO. Even Door to Door, the 1987 album that preceded their breakup, had plenty of good songs to offer. And the 2011 reunion album, Move Like This, picked up right where they left off. Even without Benjamin Orr, the album measures up to their legacy.

Ric's solo albums, for the most part, aren't all that different from the records he made with The Cars. Instantly recognizable voice, and a reliable sense of style as a songwriter and arranger. And his work producing other artists is consistently excellent. (For my money, he needs no pardon for producing Weezer. By comparison, the other producers who worked with that band have more to answer for.)

I saw The Cars twice. First time was in 1982, on the Shake It Up tour. They weren't an exciting live act -- great sound, tight playing, but not much to watch on stage. (Nick Lowe, the opening act, was much more lively.) But I still was glad to see them. When they came to Denver on the reunion tour, I had to see them again. They weren't any more exciting to watch onstage than they had been thirty years earlier, but I sure was glad to see them there again.

My wife had never seen The Cars before that reunion show, but she really wanted to go too. On the way out of the venue, we bumped into an old pal of mine who'd just seen the show. "Man, it was great to see them!" he gushed. "They sounded great! And they were really animated on stage, weren't they? Especially compared to back in the day."

I glanced at my wife just in time to see her mouth fall open, and then quickly close as she caught herself. We talked to my friend for a few minutes, and then went to our car. As soon as we were both inside, she asked, "What were they like 'back in the day'? Did they lie on couches during the show?"

Rest in peace, Ric, and thank you for all the great music. It was, indeed, just what I needed.

Re: Ric Ocasek, man...Ric Ocasek.
September 17, 2019 02:56PM
Delvin wrote:

>, she asked, "What were they like 'back in
> the day'? Did they lie on couches during the show?"
>

I never saw them live but everyone I know that has seen them has that same complaint. Which is weird because I've seen plenty of bands that just stand there and play. Heck, I just saw King Crimson last week and that's what they did - Robert Fripp doesn't even move from his stool except to pivot so he can play the mellotron but everyone raved about the performance (myself included). i guess it's because the Cars songs are so lively how could one stand still when playing? I've seen Greg Hawkes with Todd Rundgren and he gets down and Elliot Easton does as well solo, it must have been a conscious decision for the band to play like that.

zoo
Re: Ric Ocasek, man...Ric Ocasek.
September 18, 2019 12:43AM
I think Levin and Belew used to be pretty animated. I know Levin is still with KC, but the dude is old. I never saw either perform with KC but have with others (Peter Gabriel and David Bowie, respectively). Plenty mobile.
Re: Ric Ocasek, man...Ric Ocasek.
September 17, 2019 06:32PM
Heff makes a fair point. After all, I don't think I ever complained about how immobile the members of Kraftwerk are ... although plenty of friends who saw my photos from the show rolled their eyes that I'd go see four guys just standing at computer consoles all night. One friend said, "You paid good money to see that show, and for all you know, those guys just stood there for two hours and surfed porn."

Re: Ric Ocasek, man...Ric Ocasek.
September 18, 2019 01:47PM
Yeah, Belew and Levin both were pretty animated, each time I saw them (Belew with KC, Bowie, The Bears and solo, Levin with KC, Gabriel and The Stickmen).

When my wife saw King Crimson with me, she credited Fripp for having the good sense to let "someone with a personality stand in front of him."

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