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Benjamin OrrThe Cars were on an extended hiatus in 1986 and its members were off doing their own thing. Ric Ocasek and Elliot Easton had both released solo discs since the group’s last studio album, Heartbeat City, in 1984. Since Lakewood, Ohio’s Benjamin Orr handled the vocals on that album’s biggest hit, “Drive,” it seemed only natural that he would do the solo thing as well.

Due to the astonishing similarity of his and Ocasek’s voices, people tend to forget/not know that Orr sang on many of the Cars’ hits, including “Let’s Go” and “Just What I Needed,” so an Orr solo album seemed like a sure bet. Orr scored right out of the gate with the ballad “Stay the Night,” a very “Drive”-ish adult-contemporary evergreen (you can probably hear it today on your local soft-rock radio station). “Stay the Night” was a fair-sized hit, and things looked good for sales on the accompanying album, The Lace.

“Too Hot to Stop” was chosen for the album’s second single — a sensible selection, thanks to its more upbeat sound. In fact, the song (download) was probably the most Cars-like pop single to come from their many solo projects (with the possible exception of Ocasek’s “True to You”), with the signature harmonies, glossy production, and participation from keyboardist Greg Hawkes and drummer David Robinson. And the video was from the ’80s school of teased hair and tons o’ hot chicks:

It seemed like a slam dunk, but “Too Hot” failed to make a showing on the charts (except for some middling action on the AOR chart). That doesn’t keep it from being a catchy lost Cars curio, though. Orr spent the next few years fiddling with an ultimately aborted follow-up to The Lace that never saw the light of day. Sadly, we lost Orr to pancreatic cancer in 2000, along with the last hopes for a full-fledged Cars reunion.

“Too Hot to Stop” peaked at #25 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart in 1987.

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