Album #477 – Pretenders
The Pretenders were one of the biggest rock bands of the 1980’s. A mixture of new wave, power pop, punk, reggae and country fused together to create their signature sound. The album and band were an instant success, having hit single on both sides of the Atlantic. It seems the world was ready for the Pretenders’ brand of rock in 1980. But, it was not only their sound that solidified their success. Chrissie Hynde, lead singer and rhythm guitarist, is a powerful force in rock. Her attitude set the standard for females in rock. Hynde actually played in several bands before the Pretenders including early incarnations of the Clash, 999 and the Damned and also wrote for New Musical Express. But, it was when her songs and talent were finally noticed, that things started to change. Her voice is distinctive and cuts through the loud guitars. In fact, Hynde has one of the best voices of any act from the 1980s. Before and during the Pretenders, Hynde actually sang backup for other artists including on U2’s first hit, Pride In The Name of Love. The original line-up would dissolve two years after their debut. Bassist Pete Farndon ended up being fired because of his addictions. Two days later, Guitarist James Honeyman-Scott died from a heart attack caused by cocaine use. Farndon would die from his drug use the next year. Only drummer Martin Chambers and Hynde would remain, although Chambers would leave the group in 1986, returning in the late 90’s. Despite the loss of two of the original members, the Pretenders would continue and reach their peak with album #3, Learning to Crawl, released in 1984. The Pretenders have always been Hynde’s band and their staying power proves that. Their first album is raw and rough around the edges but, solidifies Hynde’s presence in rock. Highlights include: Precious, Tattooed Love Boys, a great cover of the Kinks’ song Stop Your Sobbing, Kid, Private Life, Brass In Pocket, Lover of Today and Mystery Achievement. Overall, I give Pretenders, 4.5 out of 5.