The debut album released January 1980. I can still remember seeing (and cutting out
and saving - an archivist in the making!) the ad for upcoming releases in Rolling
Stone, and waiting for the time when I could get my 13-year-old hands on a copy for myself...
From bizarre time signatures to the accidental echoing vocals on Stop Your Sobbing,
everything you could ever hope for is right here.
A five-song release that contains the note-laden Talk of the Town and the strangely
constructed Message of Love plus their B-sides and a bonus live track of Precious recorded live in Central Park.
Originally released because of the heavy demand for new Pretenders music while the
band was unable to get into the studio (due to their virtually non-stop touring), Extended Play allowed us a savoury
taste of what was to come on the second album.
Pretenders II received a vast amount of bad reviews, but that certainly did not stop
the fans from buying, and thoroughly enjoying, the record.
Here we find the jealousy, deceit, loneliness and wastefulness that are a big part
of the human condition all presented in a beautiful gift box of guitars, drums and bass. Sadly, these were the
last notes recorded by James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon.
Learning to Crawl
Highly-polished songs fill this disk. This album remains clean throughout -- clunky,
chunky and bumpy -- but very, very clean. "Watching the Clothes" is an often-overlooked glimpse at Hynde's
sense of humour. Those of us who are suckers for the ones we love and have been convinced that laundry responsibilities
are proudly ours can relate to every word. Learning To Crawl has been the most successful Pretenders
LP so far due largely to the fact that over half the tracks were radio-friendly. It also signaled a triumphant
return as Chrissie and Martin pulled the pieces together after losing Jim and Pete. For the longtime fan, this
album was a wonderful yet painful experience... it put a smile on your face and tears in your eyes.
Walking into Tower Records in San Jose, California and heading straight for the Pretenders bin (which
by now I could've done with my eyes tied behind my back), I could see, even from far off, a neat, thick white line
in the front of that section. Getting closer (pun accidentally intended), I saw Chrissie. I picked up the album
and held its sides between the flattened palms of my hands. The first thing that came to mind, which I also involuntarily
said out loud, was, "Huh." Chrissie. Chrissie? Chrissie. Well, huh. I flipped it over... oh, there the
guys were... on the back. That's still the cover, right? The back of the cover, but the cover. Who were these guys?
Don't bother to say hello, they're gone.
I made my purchase and tore the plastic wrap off while exiting the store, my usual
habit for a Pretenders purchase. I slid the inner sleeve out while walking to the car and found... lyrics. Lyrics?
Lyrics. I looked them over, trying to read everything at once and not being able to. When I got home, I put it
on the turntable. I'd never winced at Pretenders music, never cringed at it before either. A few of the songs are
great, others OK, and the rest are just embarrassing - but their mind-melting version of Hendrix's Room Full of
Mirrors is one of the best things life has to offer.
Self-explanatory, except that I Got You Babe was included and is not a Pretenders recording
(it's UB40 with Chrissie). Chrissie has said that she never wanted that track included, but the record company
stuck it on there anyhow.
Chrissie dips deeply into the session musicians pool on this one. Now completely surrounded by folks
who will let her get away with an average performance, Packed! lacks the quality you've now come to expect. You
need that potent dose and just don't get it. You want more, you need more, but you can't have it. It's not there.
There are some truly touching songs on here, but I can't listen to them. Their sound is akin to that of an animal
caught in a trap and running out of time.
Last of the Independents
They're back! They're back!!
Different session musicians play on the album, but Chrissie was in the process of
sifting through them to find anyone who was suitable as a permanent member. After hearing Night In My Veins on
the radio before the release of Independents, I knew this was no Packed! It was very easy to slide right back into
the routine of counting the days until the release of the record. I got up early - I had to be there when the store
opened, but not any earlier...glass doors, a new Pretenders album on the other side of them... don't tempt me.
Came home and played the CD all day without stopping. Still haven't gotten tired
of it after who-knows-how-many listens. It's a great package with many flavours to choose from. I knew she could
still do it.
The Isle of View
Not an unplugged album. Not even an acoustic album, The Isle Of View is sometimes acoustic, sometimes
electric, sometimes with a string section, and always astounding.
Anyone who wants to hear an example of the perfect human voice, give Isle a listen.
You'll get caught up in its jaw-dropping tornado of sound as well as wrapped up in the warm cloak of Hynde's voice.
Viva El Amor
Listening to Viva El Amor is like living inside a snow globe - you're constantly at
the mercy of others - you aren't in control. The band flips you back and forth, tosses you around, and shakes you
up but good... all just because they can!
I can't compare this album to anything because I've never heard anything like it.
It stands on its own. If you're looking for the pure stuff that really takes your head out for a spin, here it
Greatest Hits CD. Not a lot to say about it - has the hits, or at least most of them.
This is the Pretenders first release on their new label, Artemis Records.
Loose Screw is an interesting combination of pop and reggae. It's easy to listen to.
It's easy to groove to.
I barely remember life before "You Know Who Your Friends Are" and can't imagine
life without it now.
Soundtracks / Bootlegs / Radio
Shows / Picture Discs
Compilations - Pretenders / Compilations
- Various Artists