Remembering The Cars’ Foray into Pop Stardom with ‘Shake It Up’ 40 Years Ago

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Remembering The Cars’ Foray into Pop Stardom with ‘Shake It Up’ 40 Years Ago

the cars
Ric Ocasek of The Cars. Photo by Gus Stewart/Redferns/Getty Images. 

We're revisiting The Cars' fourth studio album Shake It Up which celebrates its 40th anniversary this month. 

In 1981, The Cars were already massive stars, dominating both radio and MTV with their shimmering new wave hits. In November of that year, the band would seal their pop stardom status with Shake It Up, a much more pop-oriented album than its predecessor, Panorama. It became the band's third-straight top ten record and gave them their first top ten single with its title track. 

The band – Ric Ocasek, Elliot Easton, Greg Hawkes, Benjamin Orr and David Robinson – recorded their fourth studio album in 1981 at Syncro Sound, their own studio in Boston. Working in their own space for the very first time afforded them the time to perfect their glossy guitar-synth sound into polished new wave hits, like the impossibly catchy singles Shake It Up and Since You're Gone. 

The Cars | ‘Shake It Up’

The Cars | ‘Since You're Gone’

But it’s the deeper album tracks that weight the album in relevance four decades since its release. The unique blend of guitars and synthesizers strikes surprising emotional depths without the trappings of over production. Simple power chord progressions and synthy soundscapes meld seamlessly together into deeply nuanced pop songs that satiates the modernity of new wave fans and the grittiness of rock; and stands the test of time as a trailblazing release of the guitar-synth era.

The Cars | ‘I’m Not the One’

This year, Rhino re-released The Cars' Shake It Up album on neon green vinyl. Check it out, here.


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