Thursday, May 31


I didn't really "get around to" THE PRETENDERS until 1984's LEARNING TO CRAWL. "Middle of the Road" and "Back on the Chain Gang" received a lot of radioplay in my part of the world, and, like a lot of people, I found CHRISSIE HYNDE's distinctive purr 'n' growl both arresting and irresistible.

Eventually, of course, I became familiar with some of the band's earlier classic tracks -- "Brass in Pocket," "Kid," "Message of Love," "Day After Day," and so on. What I didn't learn for quite some time is that the band that recorded LEARNING TO CRAWL was a very different animal than the one that produced 1980's self-titled debut and 1981's PRETENDERS II. Most conspicuous in his absence was original guitarist JAMES HONEYMAN-SCOTT, who was almost equally as crucial as Hynde for making their first record the... well... "talk of the town" that it would very quickly become.

Alas, sophomore stepsister PRETENDERS II was derided by some at the time as being just "more of the same" but "not as good" (how many young artists have had to face those particular, second-effort damnations?). Still, it wasn't as though the record was ripped by the critics or failed to spawn hit songs. It wasn't. And it did. But it also seemed forever-condemned to languish in its predecessor's lengthy shadow.

Be that as it may, RHINO RECORDS has gone ahead and re-released both PRETENDERS I and II in bigger, better form. Each has been remastered, and reviewers with keener ears than mine have raved about the improvement in sound quality. Each also comes equipped with a bonus disc. In the case of II, said disc is primarily made up of tracks from a 1981 concert in L.A. There are also a couple of outtakes and a demo of "Talk of the Town." While die-hard fans may well lap this stuff up with a spoon, less ardent admirers will likely find themselves gravitating to disc one and the songs they already know. "Message of Love." "Talk of the Town." "Day After Day." "I Go to Sleep."

Not a bad line-up, when all is said and done. Not a bad legacy, either.


MP3] [VID] "Talk of the Town"

MP3] "I Go to Sleep"

MP3] "Kid" [live]

MP3] "The Wait" [live]