By 1982. Ric Ocasek’s band The Cars took a well-earned break. They obtained massive international success with their first two albums. Much to their shock, their third album proved to be a flop. Undaunted, they staged a stunning comeback in 1981. In the throes of a creative burst, Ocasek spent his vacation pursuing his muse. Thus, he holed up in his studio, recording songs and performing most of the instruments himself. Beatitude (pronounced Beat-a-tude) quietly appeared at the end of 1982. A reissue earlier this year serves as a fine reintroduction to this obscure release.
The Cars’ third album Panorama proved more experimental than their previous releases. Darker and less pop-minded, the album suffered from a lack of hits in favor of edgier songs. Although quite poppy in places, Beatitude closely resembles that album. Beatitude gave Ocasek the opportunity to delve into murkier waters without worrying about the band’s reputation or bottom line. Thus, we get moody and introspective numbers like “I Can’t Wait” and “Out Of Control,” quality songs that would never get past b-side status. Album closer “Time Bomb” sounds so dour, it sounds like a Factory Records release.
Not that everything here is bleak, though. “Jimmy Jimmy” offers catchy New Wave pop and was a minor hit. Same with the delightful “Something To Grab For,” a fine pop tune that hints at the fifth Cars album, Heartbeat City. But Beatitude’s high point is “Connect Up To Me,” an epic seven-minute number. It offers a sea of synths and beats, while Ocasek detachedly sings, “Connect up to me, I need your nightlife” in a wounded, pleading way. The song is massive and haunting yet brings the listener back for more. Two versions appear here; the album version and a 12” remix version; the album version lacks the remix version’s deeper tones, while the remix lacks the album version’s emotional heft.
Released days after Christmas 1982, Beatitude received low-key promotion. All things considered, Beatitude performed relatively well, reaching the 20s in the album charts. Ocasek would return to his band in short order to work on their fifth album. Surprisingly, Ocasek’s solo career never reached the heights of The Cars, but his interest seemed more about production than performance. Beatitude may have been an extracurricular diversion, but it’s also a hidden jewel of a solo record that delights on its own merits.
Purchase Ric Ocasek Beatitude: Rubellan Remasters