The Cars' self-titled debut celebrates its 40th anniversary today

Written by on June 6, 2018

Elektra Records/Rhino EntertainmentForty years ago today, The Cars‘ self-titled debut album cruised into stores. The Boston-based band sped onto the music scene with catchy songs featuring clever, quirky lyrics, melodic guitar solos and infectious synths that bridged the gap between mainstream rock and New Wave.

The Cars were led by singer/guitarist/songwriter Ric Ocasek and also featured a strong second vocalist, bassist Benjamin Orr, as well as guitarist Elliot Easton, keyboardist Greg Hawkes and drummer David Robinson, the latter of whom had been a member of influential pre-punk Beantown act The Modern Lovers.

The Cars’ debut was produced by Roy Thomas Baker, who previously had worked on Queen‘s early records. The album’s first single, “Just What I Needed,” reached #27 on the Billboard Hot 100, while it’s follow-up, “My Best Friend’s Girl,” peaked at #35. A third single, “Good Times Roll,” just missed the top 40. Meanwhile, many of the album’s other tracks also got regular play on rock radio stations, including “Bye Bye Love,” “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight” and “Moving in Stereo.”

The Cars ascended to the #18 spot on the Billboard 200 and spent an impressive 139 weeks on the chart. The album has gone on to sell more than 6 million copies, more than any other of the group’s studio efforts.

While the band continued to enjoy commercial success for the next decade, The Cars album laid the groundwork for a career that would eventually find the group motoring into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2018. At this year’s ceremony, three of the four tunes performed by the surviving members — Orr died in 2000 — were from the band’s debut: “Just What I Needed,” “My Best Friend’s Girl” and “Moving in Stereo.”

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