The Pretenders  Hear it Now

RS: 5of 5 Stars Average User Rating: 4of 5 Stars


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The punch line of "Precious," which opens the Pretenders' 1980 debut album, is technically "I had to fuck off," but Chrissie Hynde swallows the first three words before delivering the F-bomb with a fearlessness that few chick singers had managed up till then. Three songs later, on "Tattooed Love Boys," she confesses, with wicked glee, "I shot my mouth off/And you showed me what that hole was for," acknowledging that she's both one of the boys and a woman fully aware of her power over them. Pretenders isn't just sexual provocation, though: On the second half, Hynde reveals her tender side on a series of disarming performances in which romantic and maternal love seem all but interchangeable ("Kid," "Lovers of Today"), as do attitude and vulnerability ("Brass in Pocket").

Hynde wasn't the Pretenders' only force of nature. Guitarist James Honeyman-Scott, a master of tone and time, was her ideal partner. He shunned soloing in favor of an effects-laden, textured approach that locked in with Hynde's feral snarls and tremulous stretched notes. Bassist Pete Farndon and drummer Martin Chambers made sure that, even on the slower numbers, Pretenders has an unstoppable, springy momentum. The band cut only one more LP before Honeyman-Scott fatally overdosed, with Farndon following suit less than a year later. But Pretenders stands as a stunning confluence of hooks, sonics and substance -- it's one of those rare albums on which every move turns out to be the right one.


(Posted: Nov 11, 2004)


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Review 1 of 2

AdamJ writes:

5of 5 Stars

For my money, one of the top five rock records ever made. There's nary a false note. For twelve months or so of 1979-80, the Pretenders were the greatest band in the world, and this is one of those albums that sounds as immediate, supple, and ferocious a quarter-century later as on the day it was released. The mix, incidentally, is fabulous, and a big part of its impact; when Guns N' Roses were looking for someone to mix the "Use Your Illusion" set, they asked themselves which records of the past had most grabbed them, and settled on Bill Price, for his work not only on this record but on the Sex Pistols' "Never Mind the Bollocks," also one of the top five of all time. See the interview with Bill at

Nov 16, 2006 14:17:38

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Review 2 of 2

joshrandall writes:

5of 5 Stars

The first Pretenders album is one of the great rock albums. For over a quarter of a century it has provided fun and energy and emotion and all those things records should. It still does this and sounds as fresh as when it was released. Repeated play over all those years has not diminished its appeal. And I still put songs from it on mix tapes. Right on!

Oct 19, 2006 02:00:01

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