This Side of Paradise (album)

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This Side of Paradise
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 15, 1986
RecordedElectric Lady Studios, NYC & Additional recording at The Woolhall, Bath & The Town House, London UK
GenreNew wave
ProducerRic Ocasek, Chris Hughes, Ross Cullum
Ric Ocasek chronology
This Side of Paradise
Fireball Zone
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3/5 stars[1]
Rolling Stone(Mixed)[2]
Kerrang!3/5 stars [3]

This Side of Paradise is the second solo studio album released by Ric Ocasek, lead singer and songwriter of The Cars. It was released in 1986 by Geffen Records. Though it was a solo album, other members of The Cars played significant roles. Greg Hawkes plays keyboards and bass throughout the album (he appears on most of Ocasek's solo albums), and also co-wrote "Hello Darkness" (most Cars albums feature one Ocasek/Hawkes tune). Benjamin Orr is on backing vocals for three songs. Along with Hawkes and Orr, the track "True To You" also features Elliot Easton on guitar. Had drummer David Robinson been present, the song would have been an unofficial Cars reunion. Both production and drumming were by Chris Hughes (formerly known as "Merrick", drummer for Adam and the Ants). Hughes was the recent producer of Tears for Fears most popular two albums. Steve Stevens from Billy Idol's band plays guitar on over half of the album.

In addition, Roland Orzabal from Tears for Fears (guitar on "Emotion in Motion"), Tony Levin from King Crimson/Peter Gabriel, Tom Verlaine of Television and G. E. Smith of the Saturday Night Live Band guest on various tracks.

The first single from the album, "Emotion in Motion", which was aided in its promotion by a video that received heavy airplay on MTV, reached #1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks for one week, becoming Ocasek's only solo chart-topper (as a member of The Cars, he topped the chart with the singles "You Might Think" and "Magic" in 1984, and "Tonight She Comes" in 1985). Ocasek remains the only member of The Cars to have a #1 hit single.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks composed by Ric Ocasek except as noted.

  1. "Keep on Laughin'" 4:36
  2. "True to You" 3:59
  3. "Emotion in Motion" 4:40
  4. "Look in Your Eyes" 6:00
  5. "Coming for You" 5:34
  6. "Mystery" 4:20
  7. "True Love" 4:23
  8. "P.F.J." 3:39
  9. "Hello Darkness" (Ocasek, Greg Hawkes) 4:52
  10. "This Side of Paradise" 8:04

1986 - "Emotion in Motion" #15 US Pop, #1 Album Rock 1986 - "True to You" #75 US Pop, #9 Album Rock

Song details[edit]

The album begins with various sound-effects, including a woman's voice speaking a foreign language, and the musical theme of "Look in Your Eyes", before "Keep on Laughin'" begins.

"Coming for You" features a recurring motif previously heard on "Nightspots" from The Cars' album Candy-O: Under an E minor chord, B-C-B-A-E.[4][5]

"True Love" features a classical-styled solo on nylon-stringed acoustic guitar, played by Steve Stevens, who was then better known for the bombastic electric style that he brought to Billy Idol's material.

"P.F.J." is a character sketch of a young man called "Pink Flag Joe". It features Greg Hawkes on clarinet and harmonica, as well as keyboards and bass.

The second chorus to "Hello Darkness", beginning with "Hello darkness / You are my friend", could be a reference to the well-known Simon and Garfunkel song "The Sounds of Silence", which begins "Hello darkness, my old friend". Ocasek has long had a habit of using well-known titles and lyrical references, such as the Cars songs "Good Times Roll", "Bye Bye Love", "Think It Over" and "Maybe Baby", among others.

Before the last song, the title track, has quite faded away, it abruptly switches to an instrumental, synthesizer-dominated reprise of "True Love", which gradually fades out to end the album.


  • Ross Cullum - engineer
  • Joe Barbaria - mixing
  • Nick Egan - design
  • Arthur Eigort - photography


Guitarist G.E. Smith's involvement with the album proved convenient when Ocasek assembled a backing band (including Greg Hawkes on keyboards) to appear as musical guest on Saturday Night Live, mostly using the Saturday Night Live Band, which then featured Smith as bandleader. Appearing on Episode 3 of Season 12, Ocasek performed "Emotion in Motion" and "Keep on Laughin'".[6] Ric also appeared in a comedy sketch starring Dana Carvey's recurring character The Church Lady, who incorrectly introduced him as Keith Richards. After Ocasek corrected her, she then addressed him as "Ricky". In her typical way, the Church Lady piously criticized the sensuality of his rock and roll music.[7][8]


This is the second consecutive Ocasek album to derive its title from an indirect poetry reference. In this case, This Side of Paradise shares its title with 1920 debut novel of F. Scott Fitzgerald, which in turn took its title from a line of the Rupert Brooke poem "Tiare Tahiti."


Ocasek died on September 15, 2019, on the 33rd anniversary of the album's release.


  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Ric Ocasek This Side of Paradise review". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2011-09-13.
  2. ^ Coleman, Mark (20 November 1986). "Ric Ocasek - This Side of Paradise". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2007-10-02. Retrieved 2011-09-13.
  3. ^ Henderson, Paul (30 October 1986). "Ric Ocasek 'This Side of Paradise'". Kerrang!. 132. London, UK: United Magazines ltd. p. 23.
  4. ^ The Cars/Candy-O Songbook, (c) 1979 by Lido Music, Inc. Published by Warner Bros. Publications Inc., 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York NY 10019
  5. ^ Ric Ocasek, This Side of Paradise Songbook, (c) 1986 by Lido Music, Inc. Published by Warner Bros. Publications Inc., 265 Seacaucus Road, Seacaucus NJ 07094, Catalog number VF1323
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