The Cars: ‘It’s All I Can Do” (1979)

Orr it’s all they would let Ben do, at least until “Drive.” This is still one of the coolest Cars songs.

Kronomyth 2.2: Candy-Orr.

For years, as a kid, I just assumed Ric Ocasek sang everything, and that sometimes he chose to sing these weird, strangled songs and other times he sang in a clearer, cooler style. (I had the same kind of confusion over The Clash as a kid.) These days, I realize that the weird, strangled sound is Ocasek and the clear, cool vocals come courtesy of Benjamin Orr. Based on Candy-O (Let’s Go, It’s All I Can Do, Candy-O), The Cars should have permanently put Orr behind the microphone.

“It’s All I Can Do,” the second US single from their second album, was a detached and downbeat song that pulled you into its dreamworld because it sounded so different from most of the music being made in 1979. There were these spacy synthesizers, clockwork guitars and a liquid voice calling you to stop what you were doing and pay attention like some hip hypnotist. The B side is more in line with Candy’s crunchier conceits: noisy guitars, hyper-compressed keyboards and Ocasek’s masked mannerisms, all of it arriving on the heels of This Year’s Model.

Read more Cars reviews

Original 7-inch single version

A1. It’s All I Can Do (Ric Ocasek) (3:45)
B1. Got A Lot On My Head (Ric Ocasek) (2:58)

Original 7-inch single version (UK)
A1. It’s All I Can Do (Ric Ocasek)
B1. Candy-O (Ric Ocasek)

The Plastic

Released on 7-inch single on September 25, 1979 in the US (Elektra, E-46546), in November 1979 in Japan (Elektra, P-495E) and in February 1980 in the UK (Elektra, K 12416) with regional picture sleeve; reached #41 on the US charts (charted on October 13, 1979 for 10 weeks).

1 thought on “The Cars: ‘It’s All I Can Do” (1979)

  1. ‘The Cars should have permanently put Orr behind the microphone.’

    I totally disagree. Ric Ocasek said, “If it needs a good vocal Ben sings it.”
    But the quirkyness in Ocasek’s voice is what gives the band a distinction like no other. Can you hear Ben singing anything Ric does? “Gimme Some Slack” “Up and Down” You’re All I’ve Got Tonight”? and on and on. What’s wrong with a double pronged attack anyways? I was in high school when the Cars hit the charts. My friends and I all liked the way Ocasek sang. He was cool with the mullet and dark shades. Ben sang plenty of songs. They did it right.

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