Category: Pretenders

Pretenders – Pretenders II

ARTIST: Pretenders                      Pretenders_II_(The_Pretenders_album_-_cover_art)

TITLE:  Pretenders II

YEAR RELEASED: 1981

CHART ACTION: #10 US, #7 UK

SINGLES:  Talk of the Town (#8 UK), Message of Love (#5 US Mainstream, #11 UK), Day After Day (#45 UK), The Adultress (#12 US Mainstream), I Go to Sleep (#7 UK), Louie Louie (#110 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Half the album was a single somewhere.

LINEUP: Chrissy Hynde, James Honeyman-Scott, Pete Farndon, Martin Chambers

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The second album by the Pretenders isn’t as top-notch as their debut, but it’s not as bad as the reputation it has, especially in the UK.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: No way to go but down after such a strong debut, but the UK press (and some in the US) was pretty hard on this. It took a while to get all of the songs together, because they were touring a lot, so they released “Talk of the Town” and “Message of Love” as stopgap singles and as part of an EP.

Well, when the album came out people squawked about that, never mind that those two songs were equal to everything on the first album. They picked apart the rest of the record too, even though “Day After Day” is top tier, and the ballads show depth and maturity (that I honestly didn’t get in my 20’s, but I was young, ya know).

I’m not saying this is a perfect album. A few songs do seem a like re-writes or at least variations on a theme, and a couple songs linger too much. Not every album can be an A+, but this has enough great songs to stay in anyone’s rotation.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “I Go to Sleep” was a Ray Davies song, and soon Hynde and Davies started a relationship. And “Louie Louie” isn’t a cover song, either.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, an entire live set from Santa Monica is appended and IT IS AWESOME! Grab it!

GRADE: A-: Some of the songs would fit right in on the debut. A solid album, and not scorn worthy.

Pretenders – Pretenders

ARTIST: Pretenders 220px-Pretenders_album
TITLE: Pretenders
YEAR RELEASED: 1980
CHART ACTION: #9 US, #1 UK
SINGLES: Stop Your Sobbing (#34 UK, #65 US), Kid (#33 UK), Brass in Pocket (#1 UK, #14 US)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Tattooed Love Boys, The Wait, Precious
LINEUP: Chrissy Hynde, James Honeyman-Scott, Martin Chambers, Pete Farndon.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut album from UK New Wave group melts every turntable it’s on.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Holy cow! What a record!

The first time you hear this, you focus on Hynde and how clear and confident she sounds, and how vulnerable and fragile she is as well on the slower songs. Then on the next listen you hear the band – especially Honeyman-Scott on guitar and Chambers on drums. Finally, you hear it all together, and notice how versatile, how poised and how tight they are.

The first side is one of the ‘perfect’ album sides. It’s well paced, well thought out, and hits all of the right notes and almost wears you out. The second side is just as good but it gears things down a bit to show Hynde and the band at their most fragile before ending with a kick and a roar.

I wore out my vinyl.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Nick Lowe produced their first single, but decided not to work with them any further since he thought they weren’t going to make it. Oopsy!

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with B-sides, some demos (worth keeping) and hot live cuts of Precious and Tattooed Love Boys.

GRADE: A+: When I was younger, I tended to skip the longer ballads on side two, but now I hear their beauty and grace, and coupled with the hot first side, it’s really a perfect record.