- With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this pressing will show you just how good Shake It Up can sound on vinyl
- It wouldn’t be a Cars Hot Stamper without BIG, BOLD sound flying out of the speakers – friends, let me tell you, this baby’s got that in spades – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- Amazing sound quality for some of their most memorable songs – Since You’re Gone, Shake It Up, I’m Not the One, A Dream Away and more
- “The band’s sound may have been evolving with each succeeding album, but Ric Ocasek was still writing compelling new wave compositions despite all the change, many of which would ultimately become rock & roll standards.”
If you have big dynamic speakers and like to rock, you can’t go wrong with a Hot Stamper Shake It Up. For a band with thin ties, leather jackets, jangly guitars, synths and monstrously huge floor toms that fly back and forth across the soundstage, Shake It Up is going to be the record for you, no doubt about it.
The first two Cars albums were both in The Better Records Rock and Pop Top 100 at one time, with good reason: they’re superb recordings. The Cars have been in “heavy rotation” on my system since the albums came out in the late ’70s. We started doing shootouts for both albums right around 2006 or 2007 and they continue to be a regular feature of our Rock Hot Stamper section, not to mention some of the most fun shootouts we do in any given week.
What amazing sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1981
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
Track by Track
Side One starts with Since You’re Gone — as close to live arena sound as these guys ever get. This song is HUGE and when the mastering is correct, it can shake the paintings off the walls.
The top end is bright — let’s face it, this is The Cars under the direction of Roy Thomas Baker, not a Mozart string trio — but the top end isn’t grainy like your average copy, it’s actually fairly sweet. (The top end of most pressings will rip your head off.)
Listen for the bells on the third track. The typical copy has them stuck in the speakers, lacking any kind of harmonic extension or real transient information. You can hardly pick them out. On the best copies they ring sweetly. (A nice tweeter test to boot.)
The big guitars on Side Two are meaty and textured with tons of roomy ambience around them. The top-end is not gritty, which is a typical problem on this title. All of the elements are clear and really come together. When we heard the bottom-end we were blown away. It’s BIG down there, with plenty of punch and definition.
What We Listen For on Shake It Up
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Before then had you ever read a word in any audiophile or record collecting publication about how amazing the originals can sound? Of course not. These people wouldn’t know a good record from a hole in the ground. If anything the typical audiophile probably has one or both of the disastrous Nautilus half-speed mastered versions, and, having played them, would not be inclined to think highly of the sound.
We knew better than to waste our time with that muck. Recently Mobile Fidelity has taken upon itself to remaster a selection of the band’s titles with the same flawed half-speed mastering approach. We haven’t played any of them and don’t intend to. We know that sound and we don’t like it.
Our point, other than to bash a record we have never played, is simply this: if you have any of those MoFi versions we would love to send you a copy of the album so that you can hear for yourself what it’s really supposed to sound like.
The End of the Cars Production Line
I consider this to be one of the last good records the Cars made. Side one is fairly consistent, with the first three tracks all being excellent. Side two starts out with one of their best songs, ‘A Dream Away,’ which is a personal favorite of mine.
Since You’re Gone
Shake It Up
I’m Not the One
Victim of Love
A Dream Away
This Could Be Love
Think It Over
By augmenting their sound with more synthesizers, electronics, and drum machines, the Cars’ fourth release, Shake It Up, helped bridge their hard rock-based early work (1978’s The Cars) with the futuristic-pop direction of 1984’s Heartbeat City. The band’s sound may have been evolving with each succeeding album, but Ric Ocasek was still writing compelling new wave compositions despite all the change, many of which would ultimately become rock & roll standards.
The up-tempo title track remains a party favorite to this day (reaching number four on the singles charts), while the melancholic “Since You’re Gone” remains one of Ocasek’s best-ever tales of heartbreak. Intriguing videos were made for both songs, officially introducing the band to the MTV age.
Like its predecessor, 1980’s Panorama, filler is present (“This Could Be Love,” “Maybe Baby”), but many lesser-known album tracks prove to be highlights: the almost entirely synth-oriented tracks “Think It Over” and “A Dream Away,” the rocking “Cruiser,” plus the more pop-oriented “I’m Not the One” and “Victim of Love.” Although Shake It Up was another resounding commercial success, their next album would be the one that made the Cars one of rock’s quintessential acts of the ’80s.