Friday, July 26, 2013

Cars 6: Door To Door

The Cars were still coasting (sorry) on the success of Heartbeat City when their first compilation appeared. Greatest Hits pretty much delivered what it promised, each of the songs having actually been in the Billboard Top 40. The big attraction was “Tonight She Comes”, a quintessential Cars single; a remix of “I’m Not The One” was also included and issued as a single. For some reason the CD and cassette added “Heartbeat City”, which was never a hit, while “Hello Again” was ignored.
Presumably “Tonight She Comes” was all they completed, as the next year saw solo albums from Ric Ocasek, Elliot Easton and Ben Orr (who had a hit of his own with “Stay The Night”). Unfortunately all that time off didn’t rejuvenate the band, as displayed on the lackluster Door To Door.
The album begins with “Leave Or Stay”, which comes loaded with hooks and even that old burping synth sound from the first two albums. As it turns out, the song was left over from that first album. That might suggest the album is a return to their roots, so to speak, but then “You Are The Girl”, the first single, was such an inferior rewrite of “Tonight She Comes” that it worked against the album’s potential. With its slow beat and heavy fuzz, “Double Trouble” could almost pass for hair-metal, except for the synth solo, while the moody “Fine Line” barely sounds like them. “Everything You Say” is all Ben Orr pop, a minor key tune with a country-western gallop, and they get back to themselves for “Ta Ta Wayo Wayo”, another old song finally recorded.
“Strap Me In” improves on the “Double Trouble” formula for a classic Cars track, providing a welcome start to side two, a rush immediately capsized by the back-to-back naps of “Coming Up You” (left over from Shake It Up) and “Wound Up On You”. “Go Away” is inoffensive pop, making us wonder why Ben didn’t have a more successful solo career. The title track revs up the tempo for the last time, and the proceedings end with the actual sound of a door slamming shut, fittingly.
By the time Door To Door came out, the band (and consumers alike) seemed to have lost interest, and they disbanded as soon as the obligatory tour finished. Up until the end of the century their legacy didn’t always get the respect it might have deserved; of course, dull Ocasek solo albums didn’t help. The others went on to session work and other gigs—Elliot even doing time in Creedence Clearwater Revisited—while Ocasek kept busy producing bands like Weezer and Guided By Voices. Even after every other ‘80s band reunited for various reasons, VH-1 or otherwise, the Cars held out, and hopes were dashed forever when Ben died in 2000.

The Cars Door To Door (1987)—2

1 comment:

  1. I seem to be in the minority of Cars fans who love Door To Door. I loved the dark nature & heavy production on many of the songs, which was in complete contrast to the bright, poppy Heartbeat City (which I also love). The mood reminds me of their overlooked early classic Panorama, and I think it's a much more consistent record than Shake It Up. That one has a better reputation than it should based on the huge hit singles and the song "Cruiser." I realize The Cars were running out of gas (ouch, unintended pun) by the time Door To Door was released, and had to tap into some '70s demos for inspiration, but taken as a collection of songs it holds up very well (and Elliot Easton delivers some brilliant guitar work, as always). Great write-up, even though I don't agree with your feelings about the album. At least it's getting some more exposure here.