Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pretenders - Pretenders

The 1980 debut album by the British new-wave band the Pretenders was a main-staple of the album rock stations growing up and rightly so. Chrissie Hynde and company came out of the gate with guitars a blazing, kick-starting the decade in just the right way. The album appears on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and their 100 Greatest Albums of the Eighties. It also appears on "the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die" list.

The first track, "Precious", contains a nice driving beat with a haunting title line. And, how can this comic book fan not love the fact that its lyrics reference the Marvel Comic Howard the Duck with the book's tagged line "trapped in a world he never made" even. Too cool and clearly a sign that this band was very hip.

Next is "the Phone Call" followed by "Up The Neck".

The fourth track, "Tattooed Love Boys", has a number of catchy guitar rifts that makes it a perfect track for the recent Guitar Hero II video game on XBox and Playstation.

Track five, "Space Invader", also has a video game link - it uses the sound effects of the super-hot (at the time) Space Invaders arcade game.

Track six, "the Wait", continues to showcase the guitar work of Hynde, Peter Farndon and James Honeyman-Scott.

Track seven and the end of side one is "Stop Your Sobbing", a cover of tune by the Kinks and produced by Nick Lowe. That's a lot of classic Brit rock behind this song, the first single that the Pretenders ever released.

Side two kicks off with "Kid" which changes up the beat a bit from the earlier tracks in a refreshing way.

Next up is "Private Life", a song which Grace Slick covered later that year on her album Warm Leatherette.

The center of the side is "Brass In Pocket", the top-20 hit for the band and one of the first videos they did (it features Chrissie as a waitress in a greasy spoon diner). The video got a lot of airplay in the early days of MTV, helping to propel the band into mainstream radio as well.

"Lovers of Today" is next.

The album ends with the track "Mystery Achievement", one of my favorites from the album (I really like the chorus which is catchy indeed and how the song gets my feet tapping).

I didn't own this album back in the day, but I heard a lot of it thanks to my older brother (he had a copy on vinyl) and the aforementioned rock stations. It is a testament to the band that the tracks still hold up strong today, over 30 years after their debut. I'm glad that I have them to play on my iPod any time I'm in the mood to rock out Eighties-style.

1 comment:

HERC said...

I'm a big fan of the Pretenders, with or without the the. I bought the album shortly after it was released and have been enthralled with Chrissie Hynde's voice ever since. The closing track, "Mystery Achievement", was always my favorite from the album and a fixture on many of the mixtapes I made back in the day. My kids know it as one of the songs I'd always roll down my car window to, so I could slap in time on the roof. Perhaps my favorite memory of the song was when it appeared on an early scene in the pilot episode of Crossing Jordan. I don't know what you're policy on links is but the video is easily found: search "Crossing Jordan pilot episode". Watch and listen 1:50 to 3:15.