KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Satur-debut – PRETENDERS “PRETENDERS”

The eponymous 1980 debut by Pretenders was a no-brainer choice to be included in the first post of my Great Out Of The Gate series, since it had such a big impact on me as a 13-year-old and still sounds amazing nearly four decades later. Formed in England by Ohio native Chrissie Hynde, who wrote or co-wrote most of their songs, with British musicians James Honeyman-Scott on guitar, Pete Farndon on bass (both of whom passed away within the next three years) and drummer Martin Chambers, they had their own unique sound thanks to Hynde’s voice (a rare combination of smooth & soulful with tough-as-nails punk influence) and the wide-ranging musical influences of her bandmates…all of which helped define that era’s “new wave” sound. From that iconic cover image to the non-stop barrage of classic songs, Pretenders is undoubtedly one of the best debut records of all time.

For more information on this series, please read the opening paragraph of the first post, which featured the debut album from Led Zeppelin.

 

 

 

From GREAT OUT OF THE GATE Part 1:

I fell in love with Chrissie Hynde’s voice when I heard Pretenders’ cover of The Kinks’ “Stop Your Sobbing.” I had only discovered The Kinks about a year earlier so I can’t recall which version I heard first, but there’s a warmth to Hynde’s delivery that makes theirs more definitive to me. There’s some amazing musicianship at work here, especially Martin Chambers’ creative & energetic drumming and James Honeyman-Scott’s inventive & melodic lead guitar work. Hynde’s songwriting veers from the snarling punk influence of “Precious,” “The Wait” and “Tattooed Love Boys” to the instantly catchy melodic rock of “Kid” and “Brass In Pocket,” and there are some longer, less-commercial (but no less impressive) tracks like “Private Life” and “Lovers Of Today.” Through it all, they prove themselves to be a seriously kick-ass rock band. I often cite Chrissie Hynde as my all-time favorite female singer, but that almost sounds like a backhanded compliment for someone whose gender is significantly less important than the quality of the songwriting, and it rarely got better than on their self-titled debut.

 

 

I own and like/love all of their albums, but I don’t think they ever matched the near-perfection of their debut. I imagine I’m not the only one who feels that way but I’d love to hear your thoughts on this record and how it measures up to the rest of their discography for you.

21 comments on “Satur-debut – PRETENDERS “PRETENDERS”

  1. stephen1001
    September 21, 2019

    Without hyperbole, the instrumental section in the middle of Lovers of Today might have my favourite guitar tones ever (or possibly tied with the instrumental section of Pavement’s Gold Soundz)!

    Like

  2. christiansmusicmusings
    September 21, 2019

    Great band! I primarily know them based on specific songs. I’m not as familiar with their entire albums.

    Like

  3. deKE
    September 21, 2019

    That was the great thing about buying magazines like CREEM back in the day as they featured all genres of music. I first heard of Tom Petty/The Cars/Devo/The Pretenders via CREEM.
    Great Post Rich!

    Like

    • I agree, Derek. Between Creem, Circus and a couple of great rock stations in New York at the time, it was a great era to be getting into music. The old guard was still relevant but there were also so many incredible new artists emerging. Most of them have stood the test of time. Have you ever watched the show Freaks & Geeks? There’s an episode where the freaks are riding in a car and there’s a Joe Jackson song playing. One of them (I think the character played by Seth Rogen) said something like, “turn off that new wave crap” but the drummer character (played by Jason Segel) replied, “no that’s the Joe Jackson. His bass player is amazing.” That scene brings a huge smile to my face anytime I see it, since it captured that time to perfection.

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  4. Chris
    September 21, 2019

    The run from track 7 Stop Your Sobbing to track 10 Brass in Pocket is amazing. The rest of the album doesn’t reach that level for me though I agree it’s a great debut and I too love Hynde’s voice.

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  5. Alyson
    September 21, 2019

    Great choice, they really captured the musical mood of the nation at this time and as luck would have it, they played at our Students Union (in the far north of Scotland!) the week Brass In Pocket made it to the top of the UK Singles Chart, so quite a coup for the Entertainments Officer. Of course I went and we had a brilliant night. One of my friends wrote for the student newspaper and had the privilege of interviewing Chrissie before the concert – She was in a very bad mood however as she had just cut her (signature) long fringe and she’d made it too short. Something to tell your grandchildren about.

    She was on telly recently as I think she’s just made a new album of jazzy kind of standards – The dark hair is now fair but other than that she looks remarkably similar. The voice is still the same too so good for her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Alyson. Finally an actual female artist shows up in this series. Ironically, much of the music would probably fall in the “masculine” or “gender neutral” categories we’ve previously discussed. I’m so jealous that you got to see Pretenders at that time in such a small venue. The closest I came to that with a great artist was seeing Nick Lowe at the student center of my college, when Paul Carrack was playing keyboards for him. Very funny anecdote about Chrissie’s hair. She would probably laugh about that today. I listened to her new jazzy album and it’s very good. Much better than when certain artists tackle the “great American songbook” (I’m looking at you, Rod Stewart), as she covers a lot of musical ground on her record…and that voice is still in peak condition.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Alyson
        September 23, 2019

        Yes, the fringe is still just as long even nowadays. so she knows her style and sticks to it. Nothing worse than cutting it too short though and I’ve been there – You shut your eyes (to keep the shorn bits out of your eyes) and when you open them again your fringe is half way up your forehead. A good two weeks before it sorts itself out – Not much wonder Chrissie was cross.

        As for the venue, it was in what could be construed as a large PE hall with a stage at the far end. Seemed big at the time but tiny compared to where they must have preformed in later years.

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      • Chrissie Hynde isn’t just one of the coolest chicks in rock & roll history…she’s one of the coolest people ever. She does her own thing and couldn’t care less what you think. The fact that she’s a great songwriter and has THAT voice is just icing on the cake.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Stu
    September 21, 2019

    Not only one of the best debuts but also best rock albums ever! Learning to Crawl and Alone are almost equally great, but not quite. Chrissie has led a charmed musical existence, just about everything she touches is great.

    Liked by 2 people

    • 1537
      September 22, 2019

      I couldn’t agree more Stu.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Stu. So glad you agree about the awesomeness of this album, not just as a debut but an all-around classic. Learning To Crawl is another favorite (as is their sophomore album). I need to revisit Alone. Played it a couple of times when it was released and enjoyed it, but it didn’t make a huge impact on me. Have you heard her jazzy new solo album?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. J.
    September 22, 2019

    Though I like what I’ve heard, I still haven’t spent a decent amount of time with it. Something to prioritise delving into the next week or so.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thom Hickey
    October 3, 2019

    Yes.. A deeply impressive record from every point of view.

    Regards Thom

    Like

  9. Phillip Helbig
    November 18, 2019

    I’ve mentioned this before here: who are the fathers of Chrissie’s children?

    Like

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