Great Rock Albums of 1980: The Pretenders
What really grinds my gears is when I think back to this year (and the couple of years before) was that whenever any new artist came on the scene with a new sound, it was immediately branded punk. I think that the corporate record execs couldn’t put certain music into nice neat little categories so the “punk” branding was a generic fit for any new sound they weren’t familiar with. This was also said with the premiere album from The Pretenders. While I agree that they were “new wave,” they definitely weren’t punk. If you want to know my definition of punk, stick around for when I visit the first album from The Dead Kennedys, which also came out in 1980.
When I hear the self-titled first album from The Pretenders, I hear several musical influences. First there is definitely some classic rock and roll there and that is evidenced in the very first track on the album, “Precious.” Furthermore, there is a hint of reggae to their sound in many of their songs as well. This is evidenced in the single that brought them to the forefront of rock music in 1980, “Brass In Pocket.” I never judge an album for one song but it is the song that people will forever identify The Pretenders with. Still there are many great tracks on the album and reflecting back on ancient history, I love the way they use the sound effects of the video game Space Invaders in the song of the same name. It left me feeling a bit nostalgic as Space Invaders was the number one game that year.
Another factor that tuned my ears to this album was the unmistakable vocals of Chrissie Hynde. While most of the male world was still salivating over Debbie Harry, Hynde brought a new vocals style to the world. Her vocals, backed up by a tight band, also make this album as good as it is.
2. The Phone Call
3. Up the Neck
4. Tattooed Love Boys
5. Space Invader
6. The Wait
7. Stop Your Sobbing
9. Private Life
10. Brass In Pocket
11. Lovers of Today
12. Mystery Achievement
Chrissie Hynde- lead vocals, rhythm guitar
James Honeyman Scott- lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Pete Farndon- bass, backing vocals
Martin Chambers- drums, backing vocals
Label this album what you may, punk, new wave, etc, no matter, it is still a good album to enjoy. As for me, there are plenty of albums out there more deserving of the term “punk.” I just like this for the feel good factor it provides.
Next post: Paul McCartney II
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