The Cars: Shake It Up: Expanded Edition (Rhino) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Friday, January 27th, 2023  

The Cars

Expanded Edition

Rhino

Apr 19, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Shake It Up is one of two records from The Cars’ back catalogue to be reissued with expanded editions, the other being the hit-filled, Live-Aid approved Heartbeat City. Sandwiched between that monster album and the low-key weirdness of Panorama, 1981’s Shake It Up gets a bit forgotten. And that’s a shame.

Panorama was a bit of a misstep for the poster boys of the American New Wave. Their first two albums sold zillions and fired shiny hit singles off in all directions, all overseen by the unlikely figure of Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker. Shake It Up was an attempt to bring those glory days back and it pretty much did. Baker toned down the production a little (no endless tracks of massed, choral backing vocals this time around) and dug a bit deeper for a hit. The title track is pretty much the definitive Cars tunea solid and supple rhythm section, some cute keyboard hooks, and that line about doing the move “with the quirky jerk” all collide to make an ‘80s classic. Guitarist Elliot Easton is superb throughout this record and has the ability to transform an okay track into a bit of a gem, just by adding a four-bar solo or a neat little riff. He’s The Cars’ secret weapon. If you need an example, just listen to the gorgeous, Bill Nelson-inspired E-Bow solo on “Since You’re Gone.” Simple, understated and tasteful.

As with all these nicely curated reissues, you get a handful of bonus tracks. There’s nothing too exceptional here, but if you’re a collector, I guess you have to have demo, drum machine lead versions of “Shake It Up,” “A Dream Away,” and a few rare and unreleased curios.

Time has been kind to Shake It Up. Yeah, it’s got the period correct staccato rhythms, keyboard noises, and deadpan vocal delivery, but it’s also got some great songs that you may have forgotten. Now, you’ve got no excuse. It’s finally time to slip on those Ray-Bans again. (www.thecars.org)

Author rating: 7/10

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