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4.7 out of 5 stars24
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 13 January 2012
I have never been a huge fan of The Cars, owning only a vinyl copy of "Candy-O" and a "best of".
I came upon this box, was taking by a wave of nostalgia, and bought it.
I immediatly went for the album I knew (Candy-O) and was amazed at how well it stood the test of time. Then went on to the first album, and really discovered a great album, where Roy thomas Baker's touch is still very palpable.
Slowly I made my way through the other albums, finding more gems and a tighter sharper new wave rock production giving full credit to great rock songs, melodies and musicianship.
The cars were (are) a great 80's band, mixing the tightness of the 80's, the songwritting of the late seventies...and more.
Very good box indeed.
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Aping the success of Sony's similarly packaged 5CD box sets, WEA is releasing over FORTY x 5CD "Original Album Series" mini box sets of their own. Issued in the UK and Europe only, the artists featured stretch from rhythm 'n' blues icons of the 1950s (Ray Charles and Clyde McPhatter with The Drifters) all the way through to Metal And Indie bands of the 2000s (Dokken and Echo & The Bunnymen). For those interested, I've compiled a full listing of titles in the series in the 'comment' section attached to this review (some are superb, some are not).

Here's the fine-detail for THE CARS set - released Monday 1 March 2010 in the UK on Elektra/Rhino 8122 79828 1, "Original Album Series" 5CD box set breaks down as follows (none of the discs contain bonus tracks):

Disc 1 is "The Cars" their 9-track debut album released 1978 on Elektra 6E-135 in the USA and Elektra K 52088 in the UK (35:13 minutes)

Disc 2 is "Candy-O" their 11-track 2nd album released 1979 on Elektra 5E-507 in the USA and Elektra K 52148 in the UK (36:33 minutes)

Disc 3 is "Panorama" their 10-track 3rd album released 1980 on Elektra 5E-514 in the USA and Elektra K 52240 in the UK (40:33 minutes)

Disc 4 is "Shake It Up" their 9-track 4th album released 1981 on Elektra 5E-567 in the USA and Elektra K 52330 in the UK (40:45 minutes)

Disc 5 is "Heartbeat City" their 10-track 5th album released March 1984 on Elektra ST-E 60296-1 in the USA and Elektra 960 296-1 in the UK (38:38 minutes)

The five single card sleeves reflect the 'original' front and rear US LP artwork - the gatefold of "Heartbeat City" is not reproduced nor is the inner sleeve for any of the five albums. Each front sleeve is also now 'bordered' with a colour and the label on the CD then reflects that colour code - Dark Blue for Disc 1, Green for 2, Black for 3, Red for 4 and Brown for 5. The outer card box is lightweight and therefore a little bit flimsy (unlike the glossy hard-card Sony issues), but having said that, the card sleeves themselves still look pretty cool once out of the box. And it's also nice to see the original artwork used - it makes such a big difference on the Otis Redding, Paul Butterfield Blues Band [see review], Drifters and Clyde McPhatter and Dionne Warwick rear sleeves - beautiful original album artwork.

Some CD sites seemed to have automatically 'presumed' that each of these sets is "digitally remastered", but it categorically does NOT state that on the outer box or any of the card sleeves or discs. Rhino have been contacted about this thorny subject by fans around the world and Rhino confirm that these are NOT REMASTERS - only repackaging of those discs presently in the marketplace. So if the album was remastered in the 1990's (Aretha Franklin, The Drifters) or the 2000's (Warren Zevon, The Pretender) then that's what you get - if they weren't - then you get the same crappy Eighties discs that have been in the marketplace for decades.

With regard to this Cars set then - the 1st album therefore sounds great (done a while back), but when you compare the superbly detailed and punchy remasters of "Drive" and "You Might Think" on the "Just What I Needed" 2CD 1996 anthology to their versions on here, you immediately hear how dull these versions are; they're the iffy Eighties issues that have needed upgrading for decades. The best way to describe these CDs is that the sound is good - just not great.

To sum up - if you don't own any Cars stuff then the 2CD anthology "Just What I Needed" is a far better buy (and better annotated). But if you just want a slice of great pop, then dig in - just don't expect fireworks in the sound department. I'm afraid remasters of the whole albums are still "...just a dream away".

PS: For US fans this set is an expensive import box giving them CD albums they already own and are reduced to cents online... I'd say avoid.

Also with regard to sound - so far the Little Feat, Bread, Los Lobos, Chris Rea, Dr. John and Rickie Lee Jones sets are also disappointingly reported as NON REMASTERS too.
55 comments45 of 48 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 14 January 2014
This contains the first 5 Cars albums only missing out Door To Door (weaker than all of these) and the recent 2011 comeback album Move Like This (as good as it could be considering the loss of Benjamin Orr). Most songs are sung by Ric Ocasek but some have Benjamin Orr on vocals eg. Drive.

The Cars - The classic first album produced by Roy Thomas Baker (produced the first 4 albums and also produced 70s Queen albums from Queen II to A Night At The Opera). Not a duff track and still sounds great. If you like My Best Friends Girl and Just What I Needed you should like the rest. Some tracks like I'm In Touch With Your World may sound a bit quirky on first listen but break it up nicely on repeated listens.

Candy-O - Sounds similar to the first album and may on first listen not sound as strong song-wise but it really is just as good. It's All I Can Do, Double Life and Night Spots hit the (Night) spot for me.

Panorama - Probably the oddest of their albums and reflects their influences at the time: I think Ric Ocasek liked the some of the more experimental late 70s electronic groups including Suicide. At other times this sounds a bit like Devo. You may think it the weakest of these albums but I play it as much as the others. Key tracks are Panorama (rather hypnotic), Touch And Go and You Wear Those Eyes.

Shake It Up - Moving towards a beefier, poppier 80s sound this still has a great mix of catchy and edgy (well, edgy for the Cars anyway) tracks. Apart from the last two tracks where it flags a bit it's very good. Strangely the last two tracks have the same names as two following tracks on my Best of Buddy Holly album (but they're different songs). Maybe he was a fan.

Heartbeat City - Big change in production as out went RT Baker and in came John 'Mutt' Lange, producer of 3 AC/DC albums including Back In Black, Bryan Adams and later (his wife) Shania Twain. Has a typical 80s sound but some great songs including Magic, Heartbeat City, You Might Think and, the Live Aid favourite, Drive. The rest is great too with personal faves It's Not the Night and Why Can't I Have You.

The other great Cars track Tonight She Comes which appeared on the Greatest Hits is sadly not included but would have sounded good tagged on to the end of Heartbeat City. There are no extra tracks. Apart from Tonight She Comes the box set Just What I Needed revealed there wasn't too much not already released on albums of any merit. It wouldn't have hurt to have included a couple of b sides though.

For further listening check out Ric Ocasek's first two solo albums Beautitude and This Side Of Paradise. Both are very good the first leaning towards Panorama and the second having more of a Heartbeat City sound.
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on 5 October 2011
I was put off buying this for a while by some of the reviews that suggested the discs might not sound good. Finally bought it and they sound fine. The first album sounds the same as the one in the deluxe reissue. Heartbeat City sounds the same as my original cd. I mainly bought it for the middle three discs and am more than happy with them.
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on 24 February 2011
The review above is inaccurate in stating that the Cars discs are not remastered. They are the HDCD remasters and, unusually for a 'remaster', sound just fine. Combined with nice simple packaging this makes for a classic collection at a bargain price.
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on 14 May 2014
I used to get a bit fed up of hearing 'Drive' so much, especially on compilations, and tended to write them off as a one song soft rock outfit. But then I picked up one of their cds in a charity shop and realised that they were more than that. They actually wrote some decent rock songs as well. When I saw this box set at well under a tenner I decided to give them another go and wasn't disappointed. If you like a good rock song these five albums will certainly come up with the goods and will leave you humming one or two of the other songs that 'Drive' tends to overshadow. Recommended.
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on 16 December 2013
I've loved the Cars since 'Drive' got linked to Live Aid. Rick Okasek is a real original. Great value as a 5 pack - I was prepared to buy them individually!
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on 17 September 2011
No, not new remasters but thankfully these previously issued discs sound pretty good anyway. 'The Cars,' 'Candy-O' and 'Panorama' are HDCD while 'Shake It Up' and 'Heartbeat City' are standard CD. If, like me, you've never owned the individual albums before, this package is great value. If you already have some or all of these albums on CD then don't look at the Rhino logo and assume that these are new 2010 remasters and a 'must have' as they are not! So you can save your money.
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on 16 September 2011
I was wanting the first and fifth Cars albums on CD (having bought them on vinyl as a much younger person!) and was told about the Original Album Series. What a bargain - getting the two albums I wanted and being introduced to the three in between, at a really low price for all five. The albums are in cardboard slip covers with the original artwork reproduced, packaged together in a cardboard sleeve.
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on 9 July 2012
Very unusually for this series, the albums featured here are the band's first five, from their 1978 debut to 1984's Heartbeat City and as always when you get a complete sequence of recordings, part of the fascination is hearing the progression from album to album. In fairness, there isn't actually too much progression here, at least not when you compare them to contemporary New York bands like Talking Heads who moved over the same period from edgy pop to funky R&B. The Cars always seemed to be a little bit safe and sanitised and that surely accounted for their greater popularity in the US compared to their US new wave peers, albeit at the cost of less success in the UK and much much less critical acclaim generally. So why buy this set? Well simply because they really were rather terrific at doing what they did! The first three albums here are a little too polished maybe, but still jam packed with catchy pop tunes and great keyboard/synth riffs, courtesy of Ric Ocasek and Greg Hawkes, and the production is excellent particularly when the tracks are allowed to run into one another. The 4th album is perhaps the weakest here although peversely giving them their first Top 10 US single and the 5th is also notable mainly for the singles including the anthemic "Drive". These albums may be period pieces, but they are also outstanding examples of US pop music of that time.
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