After relative public indifference towards Panorama’s experimentation (while the album peaked at a respectable #5, it failed to chart a single any higher than #37), The Cars regrouped and retreated back to fizzy New Wave pop with 1981’s Shake It Up, arguably the most calculated and least essential Cars album (yes, I’m counting Heartbeat City and Door To Door in making those pronouncements). For every crowning achievement like “Since You’re Gone” or “Cruiser”, there were kiss-ass concessions to Top 40 radio (title track, anyone?) and just plain filler (“Maybe Baby”). Be honest – when was the last time you put this CD on? Do you even own it on CD? However, with the success of the title track, The Cars were back on the hit racetrack.
Which made the brave, experimental nature of Ric Ocasek’s first solo album, 1982’s Beatitude all the more surprising. Since he wrote all The Cars’ songs, it would have been quite easy for Ocasek to keep in that creative vein, crank out a few more radio-friendly hits and bank all the proceeds for himself. Thankfully, this was not the path trodden.
Wellllll, except for that lead-off single. Alright, you got me. “Something to Grab For” is basically Cars-by-numbers (yes, Ric wants again wants something he can’t have!), save for the stop/start beat of the chorus, vaguely reminiscent of Panorama’s “Touch & Go”. Unfortunately, it fared just about as well on the charts as that ill-fated single, despite a moody video played to death by MTV.
Two more singles were released to try to shore up the project – “Jimmy Jimmy” was a departure, since it focused on someone other than the narrator (!), in this case the boredom of disaffected Reagan-era teens, with the line “Nobody’s gettin’ off” summing it all up. The electro-pulse of the track is quite different than the Cars sound, with the rare vinyl-only remix/re-recorded version I’m posting here emphasizing the dancier aspects of the song.
The third single, “Prove” sank without a trace, save for some dance chart action, but don’t feel too badly. Ric ramped up The Cars yet again and produced one of the most successful rock albums of the 80s, Heartbeat City. But the solo thing appealed to other band members, too…as we’ll see tomorrow.
“Something To Grab For” peaked at #47 on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart in 1983.
“Jimmy Jimmy” peaked at #25 on the Mainstream Rock Chart and at #60 on the Club Play Chart in the same year.
Beatitude is out of print, but you can find used copies on Amazon and other Ric Ocasek tunes on