I suspect there may have been people thinking (possibly hoping) that this project was going to fall flat on it's bum. A semi reunion of The Cars, augmented by Todd Rundgren and a couple of his mates, reworking greatest hits from the 80's for an American tour. Ringo Starr's All Star Band ?
WRONG. VERY WRONG.
This is a cracking album, filled with great songs and played with a power, energy and enthusiam that, in all honesty, probably outshines the originals. I have to be careful with that last statement as although I bought the original Cars debut album on vinyl, I wouldn't call myself a real fan, so maybe I'm not qualified. But the combination of Easton, Hawkes, Rundgren, Kasim Sulton (ex Utopia) and Prairie Prince (ex Tubes) breath real life into the Cars back catelogue and don't for one moment sound like a nostalgia act. All the hits are here, plus Rundgrens 'Light' and 3 new studio tracks. Easton is in blistering form on lead, Todd's voice and delivery is a perfect fit for these songs and the band appear to gell wonderfully. Zasim Sultan takes lead vocal for the highly emotive 'Drive' and does a great job, hinting at the confidence and commitment this new line up has for the job in hand.
Live albums can be a bit of lottery and many turn out to be somewhat limp, afterthoughts that smack of contractual obligation or songwriting burn-out. This is certainly not the case with 'Its Alive' which is bristling with creativity and fun. Whether the new line up go onto record new material seems uncertain but for the time being, this will do very nicely. Its not as thought provoking as some of Todd's better, recent material (Liars) and probably sounds more similar to the late era, pop-rock of Utopia. Its certainly Cars music and I would think it appeals to their die hard and casual fans alike. Maybe the absence of Ric Ocasek is too much for the purists but if you can get past that obstacle and just enjoy the music, this is a fantastic CD. Highly recommended.