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The Pretenders – The Pretenders (1980)

August 17, 2014

[Album 337/1001]220px-Pretenders_album

I’d wager somewhere around 5% of music fans would recognize the song name Brass in Pocket.

On the other hand, upon hearing a few bars of said tune, close to the remaining 95% (myself included) would likely recognize it right away.

Even if the hit song may not have been aptly named, its lyrics summarize the parent album brilliantly.

“Gonna make you, make you, make you notice”
Heads likely turned in 1980 when within the first 40 seconds or so, Chrissie Hynde claimed to have been “shittin’ bricks.”  Perhaps not classically ladylike?  This was not a gal to be ignored!

“No reason just seems so pleasing”
I’ve been struggling to pinpoint why I find this album so appealing.  Frankly, I can’t think of any reason not to enjoy this record.

“Gonna use my style, gonna use my side-step”
For the first several listens, I thought she was going to employ her sassy instead of her side-step.  Either way, I’m sure if I’d been older than (negative) 2 years old, I’d have joined the masses with a crush on Chrissie!

“Cause I’m gonna make you see
There’s nobody else here, No one like me
I’m special, so special
I gotta have some of your attention”
And my undivided attention they had.  A special debut, through and through.

I also had two important realizations when listening to this:

1) Prior to the 1001 project, I thought the years between 1977-1983 were pretty lean.  Thanks to albums like Parallel Lines, Sound Affects, and this one, I’m learning I was young and foolish.  As a bonus, two of the three albums mentioned above feature formidable front-women; the gender ratio in my record collection is gradually becoming less lopsided!

2) A lot of my favourite records have a significant &/or sprawling penultimate track.  Clocking in at 5:51, maybe it doesn’t quite qualify as a sprawl, but Lovers of Today could easily find itself in my Top 5 tunes of the 80s.

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From → 1980s

29 Comments
  1. Great review! Chrissie Hynde is from my hometown. The song “My City Was Gone” is about our fair city. Also hometown to the Black Keys.

    • Fantastic song.

    • That’s not a bad couple of hometown artists – my hometown’s claim to fame is either the home of Finger Eleven or what most people say when I say I’m from Burlington, ‘oh, you have an IKEA!’

      • Yeah, Akron brought us Chrissie, the Keys, parts of Devo and Lebron. But no Ikea;)

      • Nobody’s perfect I suppose 😀

      • lol. Is Ikea that great? I’ve never seen one.

      • It’s not my cuppa – but the Burlington location was the closest one to London (Ontario) where I went to University. So perhaps I didn’t see the hype having grown up with it but many people I met at UWO were thrilled to drive a couple hours to shop for modular furniture!

      • I didn’t know Ikea existed until Fight Club. I’m the anti-consumer;)

  2. I am going to do my top ten records real soon and you beat me to this one—-This is Rock N Roll!—and every time I hear Brass in Pocket—I always lament—-“Could you please play anything else —and I mean anything else from this masterpiece” —I am going to do a quick post right now-you fired me up!…or rather—-thinking on Chrissie Hynde fired me up….still the best thing to come out of Akron—even with the King of Basketball going back—she is the queen of rock music!

  3. OAC Writer’s Craft class, ’93. Our teacher, Mr. Blake played us some songs and we were to listen to them, and write what we heard, write how we felt.
    Billie Holliday’s Strangefruit was one of them.
    Brass in Pocket was another.

    Sudbury’s Q 92 classic rock station had started bringing in the Pretenders – this one and Middle of the Road played minimally. My ears knew this was Chrissie Hynde. Sorry, I don’t remember what I wrote down about the song, but I’ve always liked it. lol

    • Strangefruit has to be one of the more grim songs I’ve ever heard.
      I like that idea for an exercise – and of course I’m a big fan of the OAC acronym!

  4. Thanks again Geoff for jump starting the cave! Blogging is as much community as it is writing—I sometimes forget that.

    • Anytime – I find that’s been one of the more exciting parts about this blog experience, someone will write about an album that’s on the 1001 list, it’ll inspire me to check it out, and the discussion continues!

  5. Cool site,like the diversity of the artists you are covering….

    • Thanks Deke – although Anchorman suggested diversity was an ‘old, old wooden ship’ I’m pleased it’s been much more than that with this project!

  6. ianbalentine permalink

    Glad you’re getting into albums from the ’77-’83 era, my generations ’66-’72! Lots of amazing experimentation going on around that time. Things did dry up from ’84-’88, but got real interesting after the Stone Roses album came out in ’89.
    Love this Pretenders album, by the way.

    • I’d imagine my generation’s window would be ’89 – ’95 or so! Funny how cyclical music can be, peaks & valleys.

      • ianbalentine permalink

        Yeah, I was 21 in ’89 and heavily into the dancier side of rock, and British bands to be specific.

      • Then you won’t be disappointed to hear Primal Scream & Happy Mondays both make multiple appearances on the 1001!

  7. It’s those gloves, they do it for me every time.

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