Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time
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.