The Cars and Roy Thomas Baker (1978 – 1981)

Of all the music I was exposed to during my adolescent years, perhaps no other band influenced my decision to enter the music industry than The Cars had. Surprisingly, it was not until 1984 that I had heard their self-titled debut album from 1978 for the first time. I was immediately drawn into their moody, sometimes aloof, artistic world. From Let the Good Times Roll to All Mixed Up, I was captivated by The Cars and their form of “New Wave” rock music.

Each member of the band was, and still is to this day, distinctive in his talents: the quirky lyrics and vocals of the front man and rhythm guitarist, Ric Ocasek; the late bassist Ben Orr’s smooth and crisp vocals; Greg Hawkes’s electronic keyboards and synthesizers; Elliot Easton’s melodically rock lead guitar; and David Robinson’s excellent drumming technique. It was the first time I went from being an active listener to music to wanting to become a songwriter and musician myself.

But now as an aspiring music producer, my interests have shifted a bit from the artistry of The Cars to the producer of their first four albums, Roy Thomas Baker (Roy thomas baker, n.d.). These albums are The Cars (1978), Candy-O (1979), Panorama (1980), and Shake It Up (1981) (Roy thomas baker, n.d.). Although each album contained a distinctive “Cars sound,” each one had a different atmosphere and “aura.”

The Cars is truly a classic rock album. Containing hits such as Just What I Needed and My Best Friend’s Girl, it has remained relevant thirty-four years later.

Candy-O is a bit more dated sounding due to the use of the synthesizer technology of its day. Nonetheless, it is another strong album with such classics as Let’s Go and Dangerous Type. In my opinion, it is a clear example of the best of “New Wave” of the late 1970s.

Panorama is a darker album and a bit more experimental in tone. I highly recommend it, although it may not be as accessible as their first two albums.

Shake It Up, the last album produced by Roy Thomas Baker, is probably the most commercial album of their first four. Even if someone never heard of The Cars, I am almost certain he/she has heard the title track Shake It Up. As the 1980s began the music video revolution, The Cars also released a video for Since You’re Gone from the album.

Upon re-reading this post, I feel I have probably chosen too rich a topic to be covered so sparsely and in such a short manner. Each of these albums could be a separate post, as well as the biographies of the band member and the producer himself. But my goal was to briefly share my interests of The Cars and Roy Thomas Baker, and hopefully I have succeeded in doing so.

Please feel free to add to this in the comment section, or let me know if there is any particular part of this post you would like for me to expand upon.

Shannon McDowell


Roy thomas baker. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved October 9, 2012, from

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