The last of the great glam rockers and a new wave pioneer, Ocasek was the driving force behind The Cars.
Ric Ocasek was the principal creative force behind The Cars. The road to stardom was not a straight line for him; he was in his mid 30s when The Cars released their first album. His solo career after The Cars was equally uneven and, frankly, not up to the caliber of The Cars. It clicked for seven years (1978-1984), then started to fall apart. Yet even after The Cars, Ocasek wore the role of elder rock statesman well, and there was something reassuring about the world while he was in it. Maybe it was his eternal cool; the world aged around us while Ocasek stayed the same, part Dorian Gray, part Dracula.
A contemporary of David Bowie and Marc Bolan, Ocasek was in many ways the last of the great glam rockers. In fact, the death of Bolan (in a car crash) and the arrival of The Cars occur at about the same time. (Tiger! Over there in the trees!) Certainly, the chrome-plated hooks and absurd poetry (“You’ve got your nuclear boots and your drip dry glove”) are glammy through and through. Instead, The Cars were thrust into the emerging category of new wave alongside The Police, Elvis Costello, Squeeze and every other quirky artist who didn’t wear safety pins on their clothes, and the label stuck.
After Shake It Up, arguably the best album The Cars ever made, Ocasek took some time off to record his first album, Beatitude. Featuring synth-driven songs, Beatitude lacked the contagious energy of The Cars and generated only one minor hit, “Something To Grab For.” Following the massively successful Heartbeat City, Ocasek dropped a second album, This Side of Paradise, which featured his one and only Top 40 hit, “Emotion In Motion.” (The Cars, by comparison, had thirteen Top 40 singles in the US.) The coolly received Door to Door signaled the end of The Cars, and Ocasek was left with nothing but his royalty checks, supermodel wife and rock & roll adulation, which I’m guessing wasn’t awful.
In 1991, Ocasek returned with a new album, Fireball Zone. In the interim, however, the world had tired of new wave and was awakening to the smell of grunge. Ocasek struggled to stay relevant in a world where everyone was tortured and angry because, you know, he was actually leading a pretty comfortable life by all appearances. Quick Change World didn’t fare any better, and Ocasek again took an extended break. In 1997, Ocasek re-emerged from the shadows with Troublizing, featuring the production and participation of Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan (an avowed Ocasek fan). Though it didn’t chart, the album brought Ocasek full circle from inspiration to elder statesman. Nexterday, released eight years later, found Ocasek as vampire-chic as ever. Some things never change, and the best things really shouldn’t.
Jimmy Jimmy / Something to Grab For / Prove / I Can’t Wait / Connect Up to Me // A Quick One / Out of Control / Take a Walk / Sneak Attack / Time Bomb. Released on elpee and cassette on December 30, 1982 in the US (Geffen, GHS/M5-2022), the UK and the Netherlands (Geffen, GEF 25282), Canada (Geffen, XGHS 2022) and Japan (Geffen, 25AP-2492) with lyrics innersleeve; reached #28 on the US charts. Re-issued on compact disc on June 13, 1997 in the US (Geffen Goldline, 2022).
Prove (remix) (1982)
b/w Connect Up to Me (remix). Released as promotional 12-inch single in 1982 in the US (Geffen, 2002).
Something to Grab For (1983)
b/w Connect Up to Me. Released on 7-inch single in January 1983 in the US (Geffen, 7-29784) and Canada (Geffen, 92 97847) with picture sleeve; reached #47 on the US charts (charted on February 12, 1983 for 9 weeks).
Jimmy Jimmy (1983)
b/w A Quick One + Jimmy Jimmy (extended version), Connect Up to Me (remix extended version). Released on 7-inch and 12-inch single in 1983 in Canada (Geffen, 92 96257/92 01140).
Emotion In Motion (1986)
b/w P.F.J. + Step By Step. Released on 7-inch and 12-inch single in September 1986 in the US and Australia (Geffen, 7-28617), the UK (Geffen, GEF 9/(T)), Germany (Geffen, 920555-0), Japan (Geffen, P-2167), Peru (Warner Bros., 0728617.9) and Portugal (Geffen, 1591067) with picture sleeve; reached #15 on the US charts (charted on September 6, 1986 for 19 weeks). Also released as promotional 12-inch single in 1986 in the US (Geffen, PRO-A-2531) feat. A on both sides.
THIS SIDE OF PARADISE (1986)
Keep on Laughin’ / True to You / Emotion in Motion / Look in Your Eyes / Coming for You // Mystery / True Love / P.F.J. / Hello Darkness / This Side of Paradise. Released on elpee, cassette and compact disc in November 1986 in the US (Geffen, GHS/M5-24098/-2), Australia (Geffen, 24098-1/4), Canada (Geffen, XGHS/M5 24098), Germany (Geffen, 924 098-1) and Japan (Geffen, P-13376/32XD-542) with lyrics innersleeve; reached #31 on the US charts. Re-issued on compact disc on June 13, 1997 in the US (Geffen Goldline, 24098).
Keep On Laughin’ (1986)
Released as promotional 12-inch single in 1986 in the US (Geffen, PRO-A-2646).
True To You (1986)
b/w Hello Darkness. Released on 7-inch single in December 1986 in the US (Geffen, 7-28504) with picture sleeve; reached #75 on the US charts (charted on December 20, 1986 for 8 weeks).
Don’t Let Go (1990)
Released as promotional CD single in 1990 in the US (Reprise, PROCD-6530).
FIREBALL ZONE (1991)
Rockaway / Touch Down Easy / Come Back / The Way You Look Tonight / All We Need Is Love / Over and Over / Flowers of Evil / They Tried / Keep That Dream / Balance / Mister Meaner / Fireball Zone. Released on compact disc and cassette on June 15, 1991 in the US, Germany and Malaysia (Reprise, 26552-2/4) and Japan (Warner/Pioneer, WPCP-4377). Also released as promotional cassette in 1991 in Japan (Warner/Pioneer, PTS-2029).
Released as promotional CD single in 1991 in the US (Reprise, PROCD-4833).
The Way You Look Tonight (edit) (1991)
b/w The Way You Look Tonight (lp version). Released as promotional CD single in 1991 in the US (Reprise, PROCD-5100).
QUICK CHANGE WORLD (1993)
The Big Picture / Don’t Let Go / Hard Times / A Little Closer / Riding Shotgun / Feeling’s Got to Stay / She’s On // I Still Believe / Come Alive / Quick Change World / What’s on TV / Hopped Up / Help Me Find America. Released on compact disc and cassette on September 28, 1993 in the US (Reprise, 45248-2/4).
NEGATIVE THEATER (1993)
I Still Believe / Come Alive / Quick Change World / Ride with Duce / What’s on TV / Shake a Little Nervous / Hopped Up / Take Me Silver / Telephone Again / Race to Nowhere / Help Me Find America / Who Do I Pay / Wait for Fate / What Is Time / Fade Away. Released on compact disc in October 1993 in Germany (Reprise, 45248-2).
Quiet Please Performance in Progress / The Big Picture / The History of Glances / Tell Me / Crowds / Taking a Break From Gods and Monsters / Smell War / Quivering / Judith in Disgust / Train / All Men Should Be Boxers / Mechanics of Fluid / Living Crazed / Attempted Suicide / And Jesus Said That Whores Will Be the First to Enter the Kingdom of Heaven / No Way / Livingroom Lamplight Oddysey / Listen Up, Saint Francis / Gangland Scag / Daily Events Book / With Eight Essential Vitamins / Metal Eyes / A Certain Blindness / Ghosts Before Breakfast / Shoot the Fucker / Everyone Fuckt. Co-credited to Alan Vega and released on compact disc in 1996 in the US (Sooj Records, 10042).
The Next Right Moment / Hang on Tight / Crashland Consequence / Troublizing / Not Shocked / Situation / Fix on You / People We Know / Here We Go / Society Trance / Asia Minor. Released on compact disc and cassette on September 9, 1997 in the US and Canada (Columbia, 67962).
Hang on Tight (edit)
b/w Hang on Tight (lp version). Released as promotional CD single in 1997 in the US (Columbia, CSK 0881).
The Next Right Moment (edit) (1997)
b/w The Next Right Moment (album version). Released as promotional CD single in 1997 in the US (Columbia, CSK 3462).
Crackpot / Bottom Dollar / Don’t Lose Me / In a Little Bit / Silver / Come On / I’m Thinking / Carousel / Heard About You / Please Don’t Let Me Down / It Gets Crazy. Released on compact disc on September 27, 2005 in the US (Inverse/Sanctuary, 83093-2). Also released on expanded compact disc on December 21, 2005 in Japan (BMG, BVCM-41044) with 2 bonus tracks.