In Praise of Early Pretenders

Posted: November 3, 2014 in Albums, Alternative, New Wave, Post-Punk, Rock
Tags: , , ,

I’ve been a fan of the Pretenders since I saw the video for the song “Message of Love” back in the very early days of MTV (it was the 19th song played on the channel’s debut). Their videos were in heavy rotation back then, and I looked forward to seeing every one of them. Though they would go on to greater fame later in the decade, my favorite period from the band is the early eighties (before the drug-related deaths of guitarist James Honeyman-Scott and bassist Pete Farndon). There was something quite magical about the original line-up of Chrissie Hynde, Martin Chambers, Honeyman-Scott, and Farndon that the mid-eighties lineup lacked.

My favorite album from the group is their self-titled debut, released in 1980. The album is a mix of hard rock, punk, and pop, and the songs move seamlessly from raw rock to lyrical beauty. Although “Brass in Pocket” was the most successful single, I preferred other songs such as “Kid,” “Stop Your Sobbing,”and “Tattooed Love Boys.” The album debuted at #1 on UK album charts and made the top 10 on the US charts. Rolling Stone ranked the album as the 155th best album of all time, and 20th best album of the ‘80s (Slate Magazine has it at #64 of the ‘80s).

One of the best songs off the album is “Tattooed Love Boys.” It’s three minutes of pure energetic rock, and has a great guitar riff by Honeyman-Scott. The video is smoky and sweaty and fits perfectly with the song.

 

“Kid,” the second single from the album, shows Hynde’s emotional range as a singer. It reached #33 on the UK charts and music critic Stewart Mason stated that it was “probably the Pretenders’ masterpiece.”

 

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