In the same way as the pouty sneer of Debbie Harry told the teenage me girls could legitimately front a rock band, the spiky sneer of Chrissie Hynde told me you didn't have to be a blonde to do it. But for some reason I ended up with Parellel Lines on vinyl and not Pretenders - probably due to teenage budgetary restrictions more than anything else.
I missed out on seeing the band when they toured Australia in early 1984, when she and Jim Kerr from Simple Minds first got together at the Narara music festival, as I was overseas at the time. But I remember seeing them in 1986 at the Brisbane Festival Hall, a massive venue, I think supported by Do Re Mi in what would have been a meeting of angular-faced brunettes! Pretenders were electrifying, despite the relatively early hour for a concert - mid-afternoon, as I recall, due to the at-the-time laws about having people leaving a venue late at night. Ah, Queensland in the 80s - it truly was another country.
We only got this CD a short time ago, and I've really enjoyed having it around. We have Learning to Crawl on vinyl (two copies, I think) and I'm also looking forward to hearing that again shortly. Yes, we finally did it - bought a turntable! Anyway, I love Chrissy's trademark voice, those choppy, jangly guitar sounds - I love this album, raw and untried as they were.
VERDICT: TURN IT UP
In 1980, thanks to the wonderful music show Countdown, I was first introduced to the Pretenders by way of their first hit in Australia, Brass In Pocket. The video featured a suitably attired Chrissy Hynde as a waitress in a grimy cafe and looking all kohl-eyed and sexy. It was fuel for a punk lad's fire.
It wasn't until a couple of years later, when I was earning my own money, that I went and got Pretenders and the imaginatively-titled followup, Pretenders II. Both albums became some of my favourites, particularly when cruising around in my old Chevy. In fact, it kind of became a battle of the Chrissys as I was also a big fan of The Divinyls around the same time. Both Chrissy Hynde and Chrissie Amphlett were two women who not only looked suitably punk and sexy at the same time, but could hold their own in a rock band.
There's a lot to like about this album. The cover of The Kinks Stop Your Sobbing is better than the original, in my opinion. And tracks like Precious, Kid, Private Life and Mystery Achievement (all personal favorites) not only proved Hynde could write great songs but added a more dynamic feminine perspective to the mostly male-dominated punk scene. But best of all, Pretenders still sounds as good today as it did when it first came out.
VERDICT: TURN IT UP
For more information go to http://www.thepretenders.com/