It was all very run of the mill: Best of the Pretenders


Many years ago I heard “Precious” and “The Phone Call” side by side and thought I’d discovered the secret of what rock ‘n’ roll singing should sound like. Although she hasn’t recorded an album I care about since the first Clinton was in the White House, I like to say Chrissie Hynde is my favorite vocalist. Most comfortable with a talk-sing meter indifferent to iambs but so intuitive about listener expectations that she understood when to sustain a phrase, Hynde has been imitated by few. Like many first-rate vocalists who write, her stresses come at the beckoning of her melodies. Her band followed nobody — until the deaths of Pete Farndon and James Honeyman-Scott. Even so she recorded Learning to Crawl, one of the great roaring-backs in rock and one of 1984’s quiet blockbusters. With the exception of 1986’s Get Close, produced by Jimmy Iovine and Bob Clearmountain and sounding like it, she recorded no duds, and before you say Packed!, know that this quiet, modest collection addresses (the fear of) commitment without the verities of adult contemporary. That would come with “I’ll Stand By You.”

1. Mystery Achievement
2. Up the Neck
3. Tattooed Love Boys
4. Talk of the Town
5. Brass in Pockets
6. Middle of the Road
7. Hymn to Her
8. Precious
9. Time the Avenger
10. Back on the Chain Gang
11. Chill Factor
12. Message of Love
13. Sense of Purpose
14. Show Me
15. Let’s Make a Pact
16. Night in My Veins
17. Don’t Get Me Wrong
18. Biker Boy
19. My City Was Gone
20. Day After Day
21. 2000 Miles
22. Popstar
23. My Baby
24. Stop Your Sobbing
25. The Phone Call

4 thoughts on “It was all very run of the mill: Best of the Pretenders

  1. HERC

    What’s your take on the new track “Holy Commotion”?

    First time I heard it, I thought it was a long-lost Eurythmics track with Chrissie guesting. Like it a lot.

    I ask because your list of Best Pretenders above is similar to my own – I rank “Message Of Love” and “My City Was Gone” much higher but other than that we’re simpatico.


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