The Cars: “Just What I Needed” (1978)

Talk about going 0 to 60 in a flash, The Cars were stars after this song came out.

Kronomyth 0.9: Sweet, Orr, then honey.

After the death of Marc Bolan, this is just what we needed: sweet, short and transcendently strange glam music for a new gilded age. Producer Roy Thomas Baker cut his teeth at the breast of Bolan and T. Rex and sharpened them in the company of Queen, so it’s no wonder that The Cars combined the best parts of both (i.e., compressed sound, crushing choruses). Although Ric Ocasek wrote the song, Benjamin Orr sang it. I’ll admit that I’ve often had trouble distinguishing the one from the other on record, as both seemed to adopt David Bowie as their inspiration. (Okay, who didn’t?)

The flip side was the album track “I’m In Touch With Your World,” featuring kitchen-sink sound effects that are sometimes just silly, but the track itself is pretty cool and the wordplay is vintage Bolan. In 2004, Circuit City ran a popular ad campaign around the “Just What I Needed” theme. Unfortunately, the company needed a lot more than a cool theme song to revive their fortunes, and they finally filed for Chapter 7 in 2008.

Original 7-inch single version

A1. Just What I Needed (Ric Ocasek) (3:44)
B1. I’m In Touch With Your World (Ric Ocasek) (3:31)

Back-to-back hits 7-inch single reissue (Elektra Spun Gold)
A1. Just What I Needed (Ric Ocasek) (3:44)
B1. Good Times Roll (Ric Ocasek) (3:44)

The Pictures

Picture disc single: Art direction by Geof Lavey/Stuart Hornall.

The Plastic

Released on 7-inch single and red vinyl 7-inch single on May 29, 1978 in the US (Elektra, E-45491), in 1978 in Australia (Elektra, E 45491), Germany (Elektra, ELK 12 312), Japan (Elektra, P-324E), the Netherlands (Elektra, ELK 12.312), New Zealand (Elektra, E 45 491) and Spain (Elektra, 45-1764) and on 7-inch single and 7-inch picture disc single on January 26, 1979 in the UK (Elektra, K 12312) with regional picture sleeve. Reached #27 on the US charts (charted on June 11, 1978 for 17 weeks) and #17 on the UK charts. Also released as promotional 7-inch single in 1978 in the US (Elektra, E-45491) feat. A mono on flip side.

  1. Re-issued with “Good Times Roll” on back-to-back hits 7-inch single in 1981 in the US (Elektra Spun Gold, E-45119).

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