In the 1990s, people who were into collecting bootlegs learned to trust certain illicit labels. Moonraker, Thunderball, Optimum, Shout to the Top, and KTS were all highly regarded by collectors who associated those outfits with high-quality soundboard recordings. Tendolar, meanwhile, had a way of unearthing good or excellent soundboard recordings from the 1970s and making them available on CD. One example is Learner's Permit, which is a dream come true if you're a lover of the Cars' early work. Released in the late '90s, this CD offers excellent sound quality and boasts inspired performances from the Cars' U.S. tour of 1978. Most of Learner's Permit focuses on an August 19, 1978, appearance at the Old Waldorf in San Francisco, although seven tracks are from a 1978 gig in New York. That year, the Cars only had one studio album out, and that self-titled first album was among 1978's most impressive, fresh-sounding debuts. Most of the gems on Learner's Permit are from The Cars, including the hits "My Best Friend's Girl," "Just What I Needed," and "Good Times Roll." But the audiences are given a preview of the Cars' second album with performances of "Night Spots," "Since I Held You," and Candy-O's title song. Unfortunately, Tendolar doesn't list all of the tracks; the label states that there are 17 tracks, but in fact, there are 19: performances of "Don't Cha Stop" and "Night Spots" in New York are not listed. Some collectors will find that imperfection annoying, but even so, Learner's Permit is a valuable and exciting document of the Cars' 1978 tour.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson