Archive for The Pretenders

Great Rock Albums of 1984: The Pretenders- Learning to Crawl

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2017 by 80smetalman

Normally, I tend to go off artists who have too many commercial radio hits, especially if they altered their sound in order to gain that commercial airplay. Fortunately, I can’t say the same for The Pretenders with their album, “Learning to Crawl.” There are a good number of songs on this album which I remember getting a good amount of play on radio and more so on MTV. Some even breached the Top 40! Do you know what the best part is? The Pretenders made little or no change to their sound. They simply did what they did so well on their first two albums and in my not so humble opinion, they did it better on “Learning to Crawl.”

Let’s start with the songs we do know. “Middle of the Road” was the first single I remember hearing when the album was released in January, 1984. At this stage in my life, I was becoming very politically aware and found myself seeking out music with political overtones. While The Pretenders aren’t really a politically motivated band, the lyrics of “Middle of the Road” did get my attention. Also the fact that it’s a good straight forward rocker and very worthy to be the opener.

Although it was released as a single in 1982, (see my posts on one hit wonders of 1982), “Back on the Chain Gang” was included on the album. Even more reason for me to like it and what’s more, they didn’t change the song for the album. It’s still my all time favourite Pretenders song of all time. I was surprised to see that the ballad like, “Thin Line Between Love and Hate” only reached 83 on the US charts. I did remember hearing it a lot at the time and it often gets used in romantic films.

One song that I can identify with more and more theses days is “My City Was Gone.” On this song, Chissie Hynde laments how her home town of Akron, Ohio has changed beyond recognition. I can feel for her on this one. Since I’ve been living in the UK, every time I return to New Jersey for a visit, I see that it has changed. At first, it was just less woodland and like in the song, more shopping malls. However, the arrow through my heart happened in 2001 when I went to my childhood stomping ground of Wildwood. All my favourite amusements, especially the walk through pirate ship, were gone and replaced by go-cart tracks. It was then I realized my childhood had died. During the same visit, I discovered the woods I used to build forts in, (that’s dens for my UK readers), was bulldozed down for new housing. So Chrissie, I can feel for you on that song.

Now for the non hits. I say non hits but there is a definite, I heard this before feel whenever I listen to “Time the Avenger” and “Show Me.” I’m talking about those songs themselves, I can’t remember hearing either one anywhere else but the album but they give me the feeling otherwise. The band goes a little country with “Thumbelina.” I was used to frequent a bar that had live country music back then because it was staggering distance from my house and that song wouldn’t have been out of place if had been played there. “I Hurt You” is a solid song and the closer, “2000 Miles,” does get some airplay around Christmas time.

Track Listing:

  1. Middle of the Road
  2. Back on the Chain Gang
  3. Time the Avenger
  4. Watching the Clothes
  5. Show Me
  6. Thumbelina
  7. My City Was Gone
  8. Thin Line Between Love and Hate
  9. I Hurt You
  10. 2000 Miles

The Pretenders

Chrissie Hynde- lead vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica

Robbie McIntosh- lead guitar, backing vocals

Malcolm Foster- bass, backing vocals

Martin Chambers- drums, percussion, backing vocals

Additional Musicians

Billy Bremner- lead guitar on “Back on the Chain Gang” and “My City was Gone,” rhythm guitar on “Thin Line Between Love and Hate”

Tony Butler- bass on “Back on the Chain Gang” and “My City Was Gone

  • Andrew Bodnar- bass on “Thin Line Between Love and Hate”

Paul Carrack- piano, backing vocals on “Thin Line Between Love and Hate”

Three weeks into 1984 and things were starting off very well musically for this year. The “Learning to Crawl” album from The Pretenders was part of that.

Next post: The Go Gos- Talk Show

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock One Hit Wonders of 1982 and Other Significant Singles

Posted in 1980s, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2015 by 80smetalman

My limited exposure to commercial radio during 1982 could be considered either a blessing or a curse depending on how you look at it. While I didn’t think commercial radio totally sucked back then, there were some things played on it that I wasn’t totally impressed with. Sorry but “Tainted Love” only met with a lukewarm response from me and that was only because there was a dancer at the Driftwood who could work the song to her advantage. I suppose the best way to examine this is by looking at the one hit wonders from that year.

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As soon as I returned to the US in June after my second and final deployment to the Mediterranean, I was aware that all the bars were playing “Jenny- 8675309” by Tommy Tutone on their jukeboxes. I can’t say that I really rocked out to the song but the melody was very catchy and when the title was sung, it stuck in your mind. The melody is going through my mind right now. I once heard a live version of this song and it did sound a bit harder rock and if Tommy had recorded the song that way, I would have liked it even more.

The Pretenders

The Pretenders

All right already, I know that The Pretenders were not one hit wonders nor did they release an album in 1982. However, they did release one song and it was a killer one. “Back on the Chain Gang” is most definitely my all time favourite Pretenders song. This is the song where lead guitarist James Honeyman Scott really shines. He just riffs through the entire song and of course I won’t take anything away from Chrissie. Her vocals are as good as ever on this one. Maybe with a great song like this one, The Pretenders believed they didn’t need to make an entire album. Who’s to know?

The McKenzie Brothers

The McKenzie Brothers

Okay, it’s not really a rock song, more of a comedy parody. But the single “Take Off” by the Canadian Comedy duo Bob and Doug McKenzie did break the top 40 in the US and I believe it went to number one in Canada! Maybe one of my Canadian followers can verify that for me. That fact alone qualifies them as one hit wonders in my reckoning although their version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is fourth favourite Christmas song. Another reason this qualifies as a rock song is the fact that none other than Geddy Lee sings the backing vocals on “Take Off.” That makes the single that much better. Saying that, the McKenzie Brothers do have me on the floor with laughter when I hear it, so take off you hoser!

Hank Williams Jr

Hank Williams Jr

Having spent the better part of four years in North Carolina, I could not help developing a little appreciation for country music. When asked who are my favourite country artists I answer that one is David Allen Coe and the other is Hank Williams Jr. While, I like a lot of Hank’s material the song I like best came out in 1982. “A Country Boy Can Survive” is just brilliant! From the lyrics all the way to the small but noticeable hard rock vibe to it. In fact, Kid Rock puts his own metal spin on it but I still prefer the original.

There you have, four great singles from 1982, two from one hit wonders, one from an established great band and a country song that thrills this metal head. So, maybe commercial radio didn’t suck then.

Next post: The Soundtrack to The Wall

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1981: The Pretenders II

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2014 by 80smetalman

220px-Tppii

Maybe they thought that because it worked for Van Halen, it would work for them. That is having their first album self-titled and then calling their second one “II.” Whatever the motivation, that is exactly what The Pretenders did. Now my weird imagination has me speculating the result of David Lee Roth and Chrissie Hynde having a child together. Strange yes, but he or she would probably have a great singing voice and know how to work an audience. Anyway, let’s put my imagination back in the closet and focus on the album at hand. One thing I can say about this second album from The Pretenders is like Van Halen and even Boston, the second album follows on nicely from the first and like the other two bands, if the first two albums were available as a single pack, I would buy it.

Like I said, Pretenders II follows on very nicely from Pretenders I. That first album breathed a fresh air of new wave music into the scene in 1980 and it seems that since that worked so well for them a year earlier, they would follow suit with this one. I have to say that it works very well. Hynde’s vocals are in fine form on each song on the album and the rest of the band gives their full support. There are a few well timed guitar solos from James Honeyman-Scott although I’m not going to add him with some of the greats. What surprised me when I explored the background to the album was although the song I am most familiar with, “Talk of the Town,” was released as a single, it doesn’t seemed to have charted. The one single that did was “The Adultress,” which made it to number 12. Another reason I never paid too much attention to the Top 40 charts, I suppose, although I wouldn’t take anything away from “The Adultress” because it is a fine song. Other tracks that really stand out for me are “Day After Day” and “Birds of Paradise.” Another amusing point is I, like many other people, thought the final track, “Louie Louie” was going to be a cover of the sixties classic. Now normally when I a song doesn’t sound like I expect it to, I dislike it out of sheer disappointment but that closing track doesn’t disappoint, it’s a decent closer.

Track Listing:

1. The Adultress

2. Bad Boys Get Spanked

3. Message of Love

4. I Go to Sleep

5. Birds of Paradise

6. Talk of the Town

7. Pack It Up

8. Waste Not, Want Not

9. Day After Day

10. Jealous Dogs

11. The English Roses

12. Louie Louie

The Pretenders

The Pretenders

Chrissie Hynde- lead vocals, guitar

James Honeyman-Scott- lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals

Pete Farndon- bass, backing vocals

Martin Chambers- drums, backing vocals

In 1980, The Pretenders brought a fresh sound to music and in 1981, followed it up with a good second album. It has been argued back then that part of the success of this album was down to disco finally being laid to rest in 1981. There may be some truth in that but it only proves to me that while some genres come and go, rock and roll will never die. The Pretenders spear headed the influx of new wave that would come to light in the early 80s.

Next post: Stevie Nicks- Belladonna

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.stategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1980: The Pretenders

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized, video games with tags , , , , , , on July 14, 2013 by 80smetalman

Pretenders_album

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.

Track Listing:

1. Precious

2. The Phone Call

3. Up the Neck

4. Tattooed Love Boys

5. Space Invader

6. The Wait

7. Stop Your Sobbing

8. Kid

9. Private Life

10. Brass In Pocket

11. Lovers of Today

12. Mystery Achievement

The Pretenders

L The Pretenders

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

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale for 50% off at Foyles Book Shop in London