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Nexterday - Ric Ocasek


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Ric Ocasek



Call it "muscle Cars." It's melodic and tough, and if Ric Ocasek's new album, Nexterday, ain't soon on every radio station there's no sense in the universe.

The preternaturally thin Ocasek was lead singer of the Cars when they had their string of hits in the 1970s and 1980s. Think "Good Times Roll," "My Best Friend's Girl," "You're All I've Got Tonight," "Just What I Needed," "Drive," "Shake It Up," and many more.

When the band broke up in 1987, Ocasek recorded several solo albums and spent a lot of time producing bands such as Bad Religion, Guided by Voices, Hole and Weezer. He also married supermodel Paulina Porizkova, which is appropos of nothing except that good things happen to the thin and famous.

Despite their platinum albums, numerous hit singles, and immense MTV presence, the pop/new wave Cars were sometimes criticized for being a bit mechanical –"clipped and distant," said one critic. This was something that was common enough at the time. I'm not sure how true it was for the Cars – certainly not compared with the Talking Heads. But if there was a problem with the Cars, Ocasek has fixed it in "Nexterday." He presents us with 11 new tunes, including several that blow the competition off the road. "Bottom Dollar," "It Gets Crazy" and "Don't Lose Me" are fuzz-fueled rockers, the latter hinting, in its chorus, at the best of British Invasion rock.

"I'm Thinking" is as melodic and mesmerizing as you could want, a love song of loss and longing that should be on playlists everywhere.

This is not a Cars album, it is a Ric Ocasek album. Unlike the superstar band he fronted and served as chief songwriter for, "Nexterday" shows the huge range of influences that made him special. What would you expect from a man who began his music career as a 1960s folkie with a love of Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs, and the Incredible String Band, but soon found himself in a "wreck your equipment" band, Leatherwood, that opened for the Stooges and MC5?

Grab this album. You can play it soft for someone you love or crank up the volume and frighten the neighbors. Music that can serve both purposes is a real find.

There have been rumors of a Cars reunion tour, the first since 1987. If true, Ocasek won't be in it. Neither will bassist Ben Orr, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2000.

—Mike Jahn

October 2005

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