Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Amazon Reviews: Ric Ocasek "This Side of Paradise"

This Side of ParadiseThis side of a decade
3 Out Of 5 Stars

Ric Ocasek released his second solo album, "This Side of Paradise," before the Cars' finale "Door to Door." It always sounded to me like The Cars were splintering when I heard this, because it has better songs than "Door to Door" did, and it sounds more Cars-ish than Ric's solo debut, the darker "Beatitude." It's also the only one of his solo albums to produce a top 20 single, "Emotion in Motion." (And only the late Ben Orr managed a solo hit in his out of Cars career.)

Overall, "This Side of Paradise" sounds dated. Like "Beatitude," Ocasek spend a great deal of time exploring his Roxy/Bowie fixations with a heavy reliance on that wavey-synth production so predominant in the late 80's. There's also a slew of period guests involved, including Tears for Fears, super bassist Tony Levin and his astounding Chapman Stick, Steve Stevens from Billy Idol's band, as well as Greg Hawkes, Elliott Easton and Orr. Hawkes even gets a co-writer credit on "Hello Darkness." The songs "Keep On Laughing," "True to You" and "PFJ" could have easily been Cars hits, and outshine anything on "Door to Door."

Which makes me wonder why this album came out as simply average. Had the production not been so date-stamped, Ocasek may have been able to fire up his solo career, which effectively stalled out after this (although I thought "Fireball Zone" was a better album, it didn't even crack the charts). "Heartbeat City" flirted with the same emotions and sound, but has aged much better, and "This Side of Paradise" is likely of interest to Cars completists or 80's heads only

 Nexterday Fireball Zone Beatitude Lace Move Like This The Cars

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