The New Cars – It’s Alive

I’ve been a fan of the Cars for a long time (Shake It Up was one of the first 45s I ever purchased as a kid) so I was both interested and hesitant about picking up It’s Alive by The New Cars, a new incarnation of the band.

The Cars were originally formed by Ben Orr (bass) and Ric Ocasek (guitar), with the two of them sharing vocal duties. Ben Orr passed away in 2000 and Ocasek declined to be a member of The New Cars. Instead, The New Cars puts Todd Rundgren behind the mic, with friends Kasim Sulton (bass) and Prairie Prince (drums) joining him. Original members Elliot Easton (guitar) and Greg Hawkes (keyboards) tag along for the ride, but a quick number check shows that The New Cars are only 40% of the old Cars.

Considering the weirdness of the whole thing, The New Cars actually pull off a pretty good show. Rundgren does impressive impersonations of both Orr and Ocasek, well enough to make me do a double take and make sure neither of them were involved in the album (which would be amazing since Orr is dead). Easton and Hawkes hold together the band’s old sound and provide their familiar backing vocal harmonies, making The New Cars sound a lot more like the original band than they probably should.

Material on It’s Alive is pulled from three sources. Along with original Cars classics like Just What I Needed, Let’s Go and Shake It Up, there are also a couple of Todd Rundgren solo tracks (which must’ve been included solely for the purpose of appeasing people who came to see him in concert) and a few new Cars tracks. The band is currently working on a full length studio album. The new songs are passable; they’re written in the old band’s style and fit well with the rest of the material.

Usually the departure of a lead singer means the death of a band, and in The New Cars Rundgren attempts to replace two famous ones. The results aren’t bad, if you can get over the whole mental part about them most likely doing this for some quick cash.

01. Just What I Needed
02. Let’s Go
03. Candy-O
04. You Might Think
05. My Best Friend’s Girl
06. I Saw The Light
07. You’re All I’ve Got Tonight
08. Not Tonight
09. Drive
10. Moving In Stereo
11. Shake It Up
12. Dangerous Type
13. Bye Bye Love
14. Open My Eyes
15. Good Times Roll
16. Not Tonight (Studio)
17. Warm (Studio)
18. More (Studio)

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