Pretenders - Pretenders - Review
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critics' view

Mashing up the best of your 60s Rhythm n Blues beat combos with your early 70s proto-punk rockers, the Pretenders punchy brand of New Wave had suss and was class personified. Obviously, the credit for this lies largely with Chrissie Hynde, but fair play to her boys who expertly get the best out of her first-class songs. At the time of release in January ’80 they were: Chrissie Hynde (28, vocals, rhythm guitar); James Honeyman-Scott (23, lead guitar, keyboards); Pete Farndon (27, bass) and Martin Chambers (28, drums). The album explodes into life from the off with “Precious”, which, at last, puts the Sex in Pistols, and raises the roof when Chrissie drops the f-bomb. On the same side, she ups the ante on the sexual aggresh with “Tatooed Love Boys”, which makes Patti Smith seem like Mary Poppins. I’m blushing as I write. Side one closes with the 1979 debut single, an impeccable reading of Ray Davies’ “Stop Your Sobbing”, a masterclass in the art of the melancholic pop jangle.

Maintaining the classic 60s vibe, “Kid” – another single from ’79 – opens up side two splendidly; just listen to how this band play, it’s phenomenal how they rise, fall and step sideways with all sorts of tricks and licks up their sleeves. Further underlining their skill, flair and adaptability, the classic “Private Life” proves that regatta de blanc is not the sole preserve of The Police. At this stage, the album’s status as a major debut is virtually assured, and the sensational “Brass In Pocket” further rockets the thing sky-high in my affections, as our girl struts on down the road of sexual awakening. A UK # 1 was just-reward for this masterpiece. Brilliantly, the album followed suit, giving the Pretenders an amazing start to their recording career.

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