Posts Tagged ‘Chrissie Hynde’

Many bands suffer from the second album slump” after having a successful debut. It’s common because while you often have years to write, revise, and road test songs that end up on the first record, the hustle to do a follow up without the luxury of being able to revise and road test the new tunes can lead to something less-than-stellar. It can be a humbling experience, or it can break a band. For The Pretenders, it seemed like it was neither when Pretenders II came out in 1981, but it certainly ended up breaking the band about a year later.

From the band’s formation in 1978, to the debut of their self-titled album in 1980, The Pretenders had time to both refine their sound with addition of James Honeyman-Scott on guitar and (then boyfriend) Pete Farndon on bass. Drummer Martin Chambers didn’t join the group until the band’s original drummer, Gerry Mcilduff, was replaced after releasing “Stop Your Sobbing” in 1979. Lead singer-songwriter and rhythm guitar player Chrissie Hynde’s songs captured a kind of punk, sexually liberated, and sometime feminist view that was lacking in the new wave of rock music at the time. Oh, and it didn’t hurt that The Pretender’s sound — while rooted in rock — spanned the range of rock, post-punk, and pop in 12 tightly written songs.

Coming out of the proverbial gate with such a strong debut plus the rigors of touring meant there was very little time to write songs for their follow-up. Drummer Martin Chambers noted as much in a 1983 with Trouser Press magazine: “Our first LP was very special. The second album was more difficult, because Chrissie had no time to write. She has to be relaxed to write, and we were on the road all the time.” Even with all that pressure on Hynde to write a hit follow-up, Chambers noted, “I’m quite happy with it (Pretenders II). I listen to the first and second albums with equal enjoyment.”

The band certainly changed by 1981. They not only had a successful debut, but they released an EP with two great songs (“Message of Love” and “Talk of the Town”) in March of ‘81 that also included two outtakes from the first record (“Cuban Slide” and “Porcelain”) and a blistering live version of “Precious.” The EP (titled Extended Play) seemed to be a teaser for all the great things to come in the second full album. Alas, Pretenders II at times succumbed to the dreaded  Slump when it was released five months after the EP in August 1981.

As to why Pretenders II didn’t match the debut, much of it has to do with the fact that “Message of Love” and “Talk of the Town” were released months before, and including them on the full album felt more than a bit like filler. Had the band not released the EP, and included “Cuban Slide” and “Porcelain” on the full record, the reaction to Pretenders II would have been very different. Indeed, if those four studio songs had been sequenced into the album’s tracklist in a tasteful way, critics would have been falling all over themselves with praise for the record. It’s not like Pretenders II is a stiff, it’s just that the songs don’t quite pop like they did on the first record –excluding “Message of Love” and “Talk of the Town” of course.

The Adultress” does indeed rock with a lot of confidence, but the message of the song seems more about guilt and loneliness than Hynde’s previous view of sexuality. “Bad Boys Get Spanked” seems forced — like Hynde is trying to be sexually controversial with the lyrics. However, musically, both songs are really fantastic. The band is playing with a lot of confidence and Honeyman-Scott’s guitar work has a heaviness that signals a shift toward the rock side of things. Pete Farndon’s bass work and Martin Chambers’s drumming on “Bad Boys…” propels the song forward in a way that allows Honeyman-Scott to add some tasteful colour on the guitar. And while lyrically the song doesn’t shock as it intended, no one can doubt the sheer ferocity of Hynde’s scream at the end.

“Message of Love” is noted for 1.) being a big hit for the band. 2.) being mostly a band composition. When Chambers and Farndon were interviewed on MTV in 1981, both noted that Hynde came into the studio with some sketches of a song. And although the band rarely did this, they devoted two hours of studio time to take the sketch and make it into “Messsage of Love” that’s rooted in a trade-off of A and G chords between Hynde and Honeyman-Scott. Lyrically, it’s a bit thin, but Hynde really elevates the song by her unique phrasing that kind of shuns a defined melody in favour of a talkative approach in the verses. Still, it’s an interesting enough composition that stands out for its unconventional approach to the song’s structure. There’s no lead break, but rather a kind three chord bridge in the pre-chorus that leads into “Me and you, every night, every day.”

“I Go To Sleep” is a Ray Davies song that’s been covered over 25 times. Hynde is clearly a musician whose 1960s musical influences inform her own, and this cover by Davies — whom she would have a long term relationship that produced Hynde’s first daughter, Natalie — certainly continues her love of his work. The band’s execution seems mostly by the numbers, with the addition of a french horn for extra colouring. It’s the next song, “Birds of Paradise” that’s one of those deep tracks in the group’s catalogue that appears very autobiographical — even though Hynde rarely divulges the inspiration that informs her lyrics. “Talk of the Town” is kind of the other half of “Birds of Paradise.” The former is a reflection of early love and wanting to reconnect with an old boyfriend — even though they never do. The latter is about being infatuated (maybe even in love) and making those feelings known in public — and then kind of regretting it as the rumour mill makes her object of love the talk of the town in the end.

If this were the LP version of Pretenders II, “Talk of the Town” would be the end of side one. Side two begins with a song Hynde wrote with Honeyman-Scott. “Pack It Up” explores a side of love that’s never pleasant:  the break up. But it’s a break up with a rather unsavoury character whose Porsche, ugly trousers, “insipid record collection,” video center and “the usual pornography makes him, in John McEnroe’s famous phase, “the pits of the world.”

“Waste Not Want Not” and “Jealous Dogs” are okay songs, but they kind of drag the album down. It would have been better if these were b-sides for the singles “Day After Day” or “Louie Louie” — while “Cuban Slide” and “Porcelain” were slotted into the album. Doing so would have added more variety to the second side in terms of song styles and minimized the sound alike factor. And really, it’s the last two songs on the record where things start getting interesting again. “The English Roses” is a pretty sad song in, well, a parade of them. But this one has a chorus that begins with “This is a story” and ends either with the fruit cut from the vine before its time and left to rot, or with a girl “Looking for someone to hold.” Again, Chrissie Hynde isn’t the kind of songwriter who likes to talk about the autobiographical roots of her lyrics, but it’s not difficult to read into “The English Roses” as the story of Hynde being disappointed by relationships that failed to bloom (“A thousand broken dates”), or is the girl whose “wish made on a star” brought her to the courtyard.

Her feelings about relationships are reflected in the names she assigns her main characters. It’s not difficult to see that the English Rose, The Adultress, and most every other song on the record are allusions to lousy relationships Hynde has had. What has she learned from them? Well, besides heartbreak feeling like the crack of whip, there’s more than a whiff of romanticism and longing lurking in the lyrics. And that romanticism (as in idealizing the past) comes out full throttle in the album closer, “Louie Louie.” Louie seems to be the last in a string of men who “made his mark” on Hynde’s “tender heart.” The aquiline way he moves, the smell of his shirts, “The Jamaican moon”…yeah, she had it bad for this cat. Musically, “Louie Louie” does not suffer from lack of energy. It’s a wonderful album closer with its upbeat tempo, tasteful horn section, and Hynde’s vocal delivery that comes together in a song that looks at the past in a more loving than wistful way.

Overall, Pretenders II does suffer a bit but it doesn’t entirely fail in its endeavors as a follow up to the band’s debut. Though the lyrics were rushed, and the band sometimes sounds less inventive in the middle part of the album, all four members played with greater level of accomplishment and confidence than they previously had. Part of that was undoubtedly the amount of touring they were doing. The other part was that they were good players who just got better over time. Alas, this was the last record to feature Hynde, Honeyman-Scott, Chambers, and Farndon. On June, 14th 1982, Pete Farndon was fired from the band due in large part to his drug addiction. Two days later James Honeyman-Scott died from cocaine-induced heart failure. Farndon would die on April 14th, 1983 from a heroin-related drowning. Or as Hynde tells it in a 1984 interview with Rolling Stone, “The guy blew it,” says Chrissie. “He shot up a speedball and drowned in the bath.”

The band would continue with Chambers — in and out of the band in its various incarnations from then on. However, it’s clear while there were good records by The Pretenders that came after the first two, Hynde and her rotating group of players were never able to capture what Honeyman-Scott and Farndon brought to the table that made The Pretenders one of the more exciting bands to emerge out of the British post-punk scene of the early ‘80s.

Chrissie Hynde (L) and James Walbourne from The Pretenders on stage at OverOslo on June 21, 2019 in Oslo, Norway.

When Chrissie Hynde heard Bob Dylan’s “Murder Most Foul,” the 17-minute elegy he had recorded about John F. Kennedy and surprise-released in late March, she was caught by surprise. “It really knocked me sideways,” she says “It’s so magnificent.”

Like everyone, she was in what she describes as an “odd frame of mind” due to the pandemic-related lockdowns that had gone into effect a few weeks earlier. So with no outside distractions, the song teleported her back to her youth. “It brought back my whole childhood and my past,” she says. “I remembered exactly where I was sitting in the sixth grade at my desk when the news [of JFK’s assassination] came over the Tannoy [P.A.] system. Then I was thinking about Bob and how significant he’s been throughout my lifetime — and everyone’s lives. I’ve gone to see shows of his and there are grown men, older than me, standing up, like, in tears just because he’s there.”

I was so buoyed up by the new Dylan songs that I talked to Pretenders Guitar playing hot-shot James Walbourne and we decided it’s a good time to do those Dylan songs we’ve always talked about doing. Every singer-songwriter in the world covers the master’s songs and there is an endless supply of them. So we’ve started, and will do one a week until lockdown ends. The First one is off the “Shot of Love” album, “In The Summertime”. We did it from home on our phones. I did the rhythm – sent it to James, he added guitar , sent it back to me, I then put on the vocal , sent it back to him, he put on some back up vocals and organ, then we sent it to Tchad Blake to tidy up. I know you don’t need the behind the scenes details so I won’t repeat myself on the next one. xch

Hynde had planned on hitting the road this spring with the Pretenders, in support of their hard-hitting new album, Hate for Sale, but now she had an empty diary. She’d seen Dylan live a few times with the band’s lead guitarist, James Walbourne, and had remarked to him she would love to cover some Dylan songs.

Hynde and Walbourne released the first installment of what they dubbed their “Dylan Lockdown Series,” “In the Summertime.” Dylan’s version of the track, which appeared on his 1981 LP Shot of Love, was a mid-tempo, harmonica-soaked nostalgia piece. Hynde and Walbourne toughened it up a little with some forceful acoustic guitar, a lusher chorus, and an organ replacing some of the harmonica, as she hung onto his words to fit them to her voice. “I sent James a rhythm track on my phone, he added to it, and I put a vocal to it,” she says, explaining their quarantine-era methodology. “Then we sent it to [engineer] Tchad Blake, who is out in the wilds of Wales, to mix it. I love working with him.”

I was so buoyed up by the new Dylan songs that I talked to Pretenders Guitar playing hot-shot James Walbourne and we decided it’s a good time to do those Dylan songs we’ve always talked about doing. Every singer-songwriter in the world covers the master’s songs and there is an endless supply of them. So we’ve started, and will do one a week until lockdown ends. – chx

The third in the Dylan Lockdown Series: James & Chrissie’s reading of ‘Standing In The Doorway’ taken from the “Time Out Of Mind”, great album. After she was pleased with the finished product, she started picking more songs. They made Blood on the Tracks’ “You’re a Big Girl Now”sound a little more country and contemplative. They took the gospel-tingedTime Out of Mind number“Standing in the Doorway” and opened the windows on it, making it into something more uplifting. And they interpreted the gentle“Sweetheart Like You,”from Infidels— the album Dylan was touring on when Hynde joined him at Wembley — and made it sound sparse, with just guitar, piano, and Hynde’s voice.

The fourth in the Dylan lockdown series: Chrissie and James’ tender cover of Bob Dylan’s “Sweetheart Like You”

Number 5 of the Dylan Lockdown series: Chrissie and James’ cover of Bob Dylan’s Blind Willie McTell “Blind Willie McTell” is a song titled after the Piedmont blues and ragtime singer / guitarist Blind Willie McTell. It was recorded in the spring of 1983, during the sessions for Dylan’s album Infidels, but was left off the album and officially released only in 1991 on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991. “I just love always discovering new Dylan stuff and discovering old albums,” Walbourne says, on a break from learning the chords to the Infidels-era outtake “Blind Willie McTell” on the piano. “When I saw Martin Scorsese’s Rolling Thunder doc on Netflix, I had no idea [Dylan] was that crazy during that time.”

CHRISSIE HYNDE & JAMES WALBOUNE – DYLAN LOCKDOWN SERIES NO.6: LOVE MINUS ZERO

Hynde and Walbourne uploaded the final entry in their Dylan Lockdown Series, their rendition of “Tomorrow Is a Long Time,” a quiet acoustic folk number that debuted on Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 2. Hynde and Walbourne kept it acoustic but made it more upbeat with organ and plinking cymbals, even when she sings, “If tomorrow wasn’t such a long time, then lonesome would mean nothing to you at all.” You can hear both her deference to Dylan and how the song is personal enough that she feels comfortable making it her own.

“Everyone goes back a long way with him because everyone has their own personal history [with his songs],” she says. “In his case, it’s very personal, because his songs are so personal. People who are fans of his really are fans. He’s not a lightweight; he’s a heavyweight. He’s been there for a longtime with us, so he’s seen us through many things, and we’ve seen him through.”

She pauses and considers just what it has meant to her to sing these songs. “It sounds like it’d be so easy, but first of all, you’re trying not to sing them the way you’ve heard them over the years because you get locked into that,” she says. “You can’t consciously sing them differently, so you just have to find your own thing. So it’s been an interesting and a fun thing to do. I’m very grateful to have the time to do this, because otherwise I’d be on a tour bus right now.”

she realized that now was the perfect time to pay tribute to a man who had inspired her for most of her life. She had grown up with Dylan’s music and has had the opportunity to pay tribute to him in the past — she joined him at Wembley Stadium for renditions of “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” and “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” in 1984, and she sang a stunning rendition of “I Shall Be Released” to him at his 1992 30th anniversary concert — but she has long wanted to do more. “Any singer-songwriter would like to do every Bob Dylan song they can get their hands on, and there’s thousands to choose from,” she says.

With a catalogue like Dylan’s, there’s so much there,” Hynde says. “I mean, I’m not one of these Dylan … … what do they call them … ‘Dylanologists’ to get on chat lines and discuss every lyric and everything. Although why not? But you know, I’m not into it from an academic, intellectual point of view. I wouldn’t take it in a college course. But if there’s songs I’ve lived through, such as when ‘Like A Rollin’ Stone’ and [similar songs] came on the radio back in the Sixties, they really changed the way songwriting was across the board. Probably even James Brown was affected by him; he started writing songs like ‘The Big Payback.’ And, I mean, Hendrix. Anyway, and so there’s this huge catalogue and you can dip in if you want.” She waits a beat. “And I want.”

That said, she admits that Dylanologists have been keeping her on her toes. “You don’t want to fuck up a Dylan song and have thousands of Dylanologists gunning for you,” she says. When she covered “Sweetheart Like You,” she struggled a little with how she wanted to sing some of Dylan’s words.

“These days, you don’t have to change the gender of a lyric because it doesn’t matter anymore,” Hynde says. “That was always a problem in the past, since sometimes it kind of compromises the song. Like if it didn’t sound right to change, ‘She loves me’ to ‘He loves me,’ let’s say. These days, you can do anything.

“But there was one second verse in ‘What’s a Sweetheart Like You’ that said, ‘She used to call me sweet daddy when I was only a child,’ and I thought ‘That’s gonna be really awkward,’” she continues. “I couldn’t figure out how to make that mine. So I went through the archives of different versions he’s done and found a Spanish translation that had a different verse, so I just used that one. I mean, he sang it in English, maybe it wasn’t the official, and then I thought, ‘Oh, these guys are gonna come after me now and say, “That’s not what he wrote.”‘ But it is what he wrote.”

pretenders, hate for sale cover art

Pretenders are pleased to announce brand new album ‘Hate For Sale’. Arriving July 17th 2020. Hate For Sale, produced by the revered Stephen Street (The Smiths, Blur), is the latest studio album by The Pretenders via BMG records. The album features 10 new songs written collaboratively by Chrissie Hynde and the electrifyingly dynamic guitarist James Walbourne, in what is the first Hynde/Walbourne song writing collaboration to date.

The Pretenders’ latest single, “You Can’t Hurt a Fool” is a slinky and soulful ballad in which Chrissie Hynde sings about a woman commanding the room with diva like qualities. The timeless sounding track comes from the band’s brand-new album, Hate For Sale which was released on Friday 17th July. A nostalgic music video sets the scene with reflections of heroine’s dancing in the shiny silver chrome of a vintage ribbon microphone.

Hynde co-wrote all ten tracks on the new album with Pretenders’ guitarist, James Walbourne. “I wanted to write with [Walbourne] since day one,” Hynde said in a statement. “James is especially sought after and has recorded with Jerry Lee Lewis, Dave Gahan and the Rails, to name but a few. We always planned on writing while on the road, but as anyone in a band will tell you, being on tour is a procrastinator’s dream come true.”

Let’s recap on the Pretenders videos we’ve been graced with these past few months. This month sees the release of Hate For SalePretenders’ 11th studio album. Despite arriving 40 years after the band’s captivating 1980 self-titled debut, Hate For Sale expertly aligns with the band’s original oeuvre: jangling guitars, confessional vocals and no nonsense rock punch. In fact, for fans who have been following since the early days, the Bo Diddley beat of new single “Didn’t Want To Be This Lonely” even harks back to 1980’s “Talk Of The Town” B-side, “Cuban Slide.” 

Hynde played with future Devo member Mark Mothersbaugh in Saturday Sunday Matinee in 1967 when she was 16. She told Melody Maker, “I was so shy that I wouldn’t stay in the same room as the band to sing. I’d take the mike into the laundry room and shut the door.” Hynde only played one gig with the band, a show at an Ohio church hall. More than 40 years later, she opened for Mothersbaugh’s band, Devo. Hynde was an art student at Ohio’s Kent State University when, on May 4th, 1970, the National Guard were called in to control Vietnam protesters on campus and shot dead four students, with nine more wounded. The shocking event was memorialised in the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young track “Ohio,” which was recorded within three weeks of the incident and released a month later. “I heard the shots, I didn’t see the shooting,” Hynde recalled. “We all refused to leave and we were carried off campus.” In her autobiography,RecklessHynde wrote of her friend Jeff Miller, who had died in the shooting, “I knew Jeff Miller had been a fan of Neil Young, so I was happy that Young had become our spokesman, our voice.”‘

They’ve previously teased the record with singles “The Buzz” and “Hate for Sale,” which bring Hynde’s potent punk roots back to the surface. Check out the music videos, created in lockdown below. Pretenders drummer Martin Chambers, who remains the only original member with Hynde in the 2020 Pretenders line-up, was recommended to Hynde,  Motörhead’s Lemmy. “Lemmy was very instrumental in my history,” Hynde told us “Without him the Pretenders wouldn’t have happened.”

Made entirely under UK Covid Lockdown, director John Minton takes the band’s basic iPhone footage and turns it into slices of celluloid greatness.

Hate For Sale, produced by the revered Stephen Street (The Smiths, Blur), is the latest studio album by The Pretenders via BMG. The album features 10 new songs written collaboratively by Chrissie Hynde and the electrifyingly dynamic guitarist James Walbourne, in what is the first Hynde/Walbourne song writing collaboration to date.

The official video for Didn’t Want To Be This Lonely by The Pretenders, from the new album ‘Hate For Sale’, out July 17th 2020.

The pretenders hate for sale 1584456023

Following up 2016’s acclaimed Alone, “Hate For Sale” is the Pretender’s first album to be recorded with the now long-standing touring line-up of the group. Produced by the revered Stephen Street (The Smiths, Blur) Hate For Sale is the Pretenders’ eleventh studio album overall and the first to be written collaboratively by Chrissie Hynde and electrifyingly dynamic guitarist James Walbourne. “I wanted to write with him since day one,” says Chrissie. “James is especially sought after and has recorded with Jerry Lee Lewis, Dave Gahan, and The Rails, to name but a few.” And on the single “The Buzz”, she adds, “I think we all know that love affairs can take on the characteristics of drug addiction. It’s about that.”

Hate For Sale, produced by the revered Stephen Street (The Smiths, Blur), is the latest studio album by The Pretenders via BMG. The album features 10 new songs written collaboratively by Chrissie Hynde and the electrifyingly dynamic guitarist James Walbourne, in what is the first Hynde/Walbourne song writing collaboration to date.

The official video for Hate for Sale by The Pretenders, from the new album ‘Hate For Sale’, out July 17th 2020.

Pretenders – Live at The Paradise Theatre, Boston 1980. Reissue of promo-only Warner Bros.Music Show featuring new artwork including photos from the show. Forty years ago this month, Chrissie Hynde’s Pretenders played Boston’s Paradise Rock Club — then known as the Paradise Theater  Included for the first time in Pretenders  this will be available on 1-LP Coloured vinyl for RSD 2020. Titled Live! At the Paradise Theater, Boston, 1980, the 11-song set was recorded March 23rd, 1980, and will be pressed on red “colour-in-colour” vinyl and will feature brand new artwork.

Now in its 12th year, Record Store Day falls in late August (delayed by coronavirus) this year. Head over to the recordstoreday.com and recordstoreday.co.uk websites to see full lists of exclusive, limited-run and “RSD First” releases along with participating record stores in the U.S. and the U.K., respectively.

Tracklisting:
Side One: 1.Space Invader, 2.The Wait, 3.Precious, 4.Kid, 5.Private Life, 6.Cuban Slide
Side Two: 1.Talk Of The Town, 2.Tattooed Love Boys, 3.Up The Neck, 4.Mystery Achievement, 5.Stop Your Sobbing.

recordstore day

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The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde and James Walbourne recorded an atmospheric version of Bob Dylan’s “Standing in the Doorway” for the latest installment of their “Dylan Lockdown Series.”. Chrissie Hynde is keeping busy during this pandemic. She’s a got a Lockdown Series of Bob Dylan covers she’s recorded with Pretenders guitarist James Walborne. This is all in anticipation of the new Pretenders record coming in July. Since I can listen to Chrissie sing the phone book, here are the three covers they’ve done so far.

Like the original version on 1997’s “Time Out of Mind”, the revamped take stretches out past seven minutes, with Hynde softly singing over airy piano, organ, electric guitar and distant percussion. They paired the song with a video full of vivid shots of farmland, train tracks and raindrops trickling down window panes.

“Thanks one more to Tchad Blake on mixing duties and the whole Blake family for the video,” Hynde wrote on Instagram of the release, the third in their series following “In the Summertime” and “You’re a Big Girl Now.”

The Dylan covers precede the Pretenders’ upcoming 11th studio LP, “Hate for Sale”, out July 17th. The album features the previously issued title-track, “You Can’t Hurt a Fool” and “The Buzz,” the latter of which they paired with a surreal video.

I was so buoyed up by the new Dylan songs that I talked to Pretenders Guitar playing hot-shot James Walbourne and we decided it’s a good time to do those Dylan songs we’ve always talked about doing. Every singer-songwriter in the world covers the master’s songs and there is an endless supply of them. So we’ve started, and will do one a week until lockdown ends.

The First was off the Shot of Love album, In The Summertime. We did it from home on our phones. I did the rhythm – sent it to James, he added guitar , sent it back to me, i put on the vocal , sent it back to him, he put on some back up vocals and organ, then we sent it to Tchad Blake to tidy up. I know you don’t need the behind the scenes details so I won’t repeat myself on the next one.

Hynde and Walbourne co-wrote all the songs on Hate for Sale, the Pretenders record in over 21 years to feature founding drummer Martin Chambers.

Image result for The PRETENDERS - " Brass In Pocket " sleeve

On November 12th, 1979 , The Pretenders released the single “Brass In Pocket”, BRASS IN POCKET stomped like a troupe of clog-dancers having a tantrum. Chrissie Hynde licked each word until it squealed — the way she berated the object of her lust, wailing that she’s “Special. So special”.

The term ‘sassy’ was invented for the Pretenders’ numbers like ‘Brass In Pocket’, Chrissie’s voice scraping like scuffed boots on the sidewalk of experience. It was one of those rare records that is both classic pop song and something that catches the imagination of the nation and won’t stay away.

Threatening with what she was going to use, ‘Brass In Pocket’ was a great way to remember winter 1979; Hynde’s studiously delivered warning, a probing beat underneath, an incongruous west coast laze with a dash of command.

The video here is rare archive footage of The Pretenders rehearsing ‘Brass In Pocket’ from 1979.

Image may contain: one or more people, people on stage, people playing musical instruments, concert and night

Robert Plant has released an animated video to accompany his new track Bluebirds Over The Mountain. It’s lifted from the former Led Zeppelin vocalist’s upcoming studio album “Carry Fire”, which will arrive on October 13th via Nonesuch/Warner.

The track features guest vocals from Chrissie Hynde and follows the release of singles The May Queen and Bones Of SaintsPlant previously announced a 14-date UK tour for November and December.

Speaking about the follow-up to 2014’s Lullaby And… The Ceaseless Roar Plant said: “It’s about intention. I respect and relish my past works, but each time I feel the incentive to create new work, I must mix old with new. “Consequently, the whole impetus of the band has moved on its axis somewhat – the new sound and different space giving way to exciting and dramatic landscapes of mood, melody and instrumentation.”

Robert Plant performs “Bluebirds Over the Mountain,” with special guest Chrissie Hynde, from his 2017 album, “Carry Fire”, released 13th October.

 

Just moments into the self-titled 1980 full-length debut for The Pretenders, Chrissie Hynde established a commanding presence leading the Anglo-American band she formed two years earlier. “Precious” was a bold opener bristling with punk energy in its squalling rhythm guitars and pummelling drums, crowned with Hynde’s sneering, half-spoken, half-sung vocal looming over the mix as she conjured Cleveland street scenes and sexual trysts with a contrary mix of boasts and self-deprecation.

Released in the U.S. on January 19th, 1980, at the trailing edge of ’70s punk and new wave assaults on mainstream rock, Pretenders traded on its frontwoman’s substantial punk bona fides. An American expat who fled her middle-class upbringing in Akron, Ohio, Hynde had followed her rock ’n’ roll dreams to London in 1973. There she had worked in the King’s Road boutique run by impresario and future Sex Pistols mastermind Malcolm McLaren and designer-cum-punk-muse Vivienne Westwood, stumbled into rock journalism under the wing of mercurial NME editor Nick Kent, and befriended future members of the Sex Pistols, the Clash and the Damned. Self-taught on guitar and harmonica, Hynde also gigged with several short-lived bands. Her adventures in London’s punk demimonde were reinforced by encounters with stateside pathfinders including members of the New York Dolls, their Heartbreakers cousins and Iggy Pop.

Her early embrace of British Invasion front-runners including the Beatles, the Stones and the Kinks inspired the relative androgyny of her stage image, from a shag haircut worthy of Keith Richards or Jeff Beck to her penchant for leather. Revelling in her kinship with her band, she was still its alpha member and chief architect of its sound. In retrospect, only Joan Jett was marking out similar turf, a parallel intriguing in both timeline and influence given Jett’s 1979 London sojourn and her own ties to Sex Pistols Paul Cook and Steve Jones.

The Pretenders first LP, simply titled “Pretenders” was released on this day in 1980. A combination of rock, punk and pop music, this album made the band famous. The album features the singles “Stop Your Sobbing”, “Kid” and “Brass in Pocket”.  The quartet’s take-no-prisoners focus as rockers was complemented by equal skill at more melodic pop, made plain on their first single and side one’s closer, a cover of the Kinks’ “Stop Your Sobbing.”

Nick Lowe produced the Pretenders‘ first single, “Stop Your Sobbing”, but decided not to work with them again as he thought the band “wasn’t going anywhere”. Chris Thomas took over on the subsequent recording sessions.

Like her friends in the Clash, however, Hynde’s musical instincts were broader and deeper, embracing older rock, funk and R&B influences alongside the ur-punk of the Stooges, Chicago blues and heartland rockers like Mitch Ryder and the James Gang, local favourites during her undergraduate days at Kent State University. The three Hereford, England, musicians she recruited for the Pretenders—guitarist James Honeyman-Scott, bassist Pete Farndon and drummer Martin Chambers—brought substantial chops to the equation and even a certain wariness of punk’s more self-conscious DIY pretensions.

As a result, the first side of the band’s debut set leans into punk-friendly aggression even as it tips us to the sophistication underlying its crunching guitars and flailing drums. The steady-rolling pace of “Precious” is followed by the stop-and-start riffs of “The Phone Call,” the first of several Hynde originals that sidestep even meters with shifting time signatures. That tactic moves into a higher gear on the feverish “Tattooed Love Boys,” a feverish rave-up spiked by Honeyman-Scott’s chiming guitar figures. The edgy conflation of pleasure and pain, is echoed by “The Wait,” offering further evidence of the band’s cohesive power as musicians, captured by producer (and “fifth Pretender” for the band’s first three albums, according to Hynde) Chris Thomas with a canny balance of live performances with spare overdubs and a few post-production effects. Unequal line lengths again push and pull at the song’s structure, with Hynde’s breathless vocal once more creating an illusion of chaos held narrowly at bay.

“I’m special,” Hynde insists, “so special, I gotta have some of your attention, give it to me.” With her band’s accompaniment stripped down to a minimalist pulse tickled by Honeyman-Scott’s spare guitar figures, Hynde proved her point, bridging rock, pop and punk handily. The album’s final track, “Mystery Achievement,” touched on each of those bases: A tough opening bass figure, flashes of bright rhythm guitar, fluid lead guitars and a weave of overdubbed Hynde vocals exploit a shift from minor-keyed verses to major-key choruses for a triumphant closer.

Pretenders debuted at number 1 on the UK Albums Chart in the week of its release and stayed there for four consecutive weeks. Pretenders debut album has been named one of the best debut albums of all time . In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine ranked the album number 155 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, and, in 1989, ranked it the 20th best album of the 1980s.

Pretenders was remastered and re-released in 2006 and included a bonus disc of demos, B-sides and live cuts, many previously unreleased. “Cuban Slide” and “Porcelain” originally appeared as B-sides to “Talk of the Town” and “Message of Love”, while “Swinging London” and “Nervous But Shy” both appeared on the flip side of “Brass in Pocket”. The Regents Park Demo of “Stop Your Sobbing” was included initially as a flexi-single in the May 1981 edition of Flexipop magazine. The tracks “Message of Love”, “Talk of the Town”, “Porcelain” and “Cuban Slide” alongside a live version of the album’s opening track, “Precious”, were released on a follow-up EP entitled Extended Play soon after.

The Pretenders

alone

Anyone hoping the combination of one-time Akron residents Dan Auerbach and Chrissy Hynde collaborating on the first Pretenders album in eight years that would result in a raw, rustbelt Black Keys meets Iggy Pop explosion, may be disappointed. That doesn’t make this ballad heavy set substandard, but it does seem like a missed opportunity.

First off, this is “the Pretenders” in name only; other than Hynde, no one on it has been or probably will be a Pretender. Even though the Nashville backing musicians are talented veterans (two on loan from Auerbach’s Arcs side project) and there are plenty of echoes of what Hynde created with the Pretenders, releasing the project under that name, as opposed to the solo album it was initially intended as, is somewhat misleading.

But for those who feel that anything Hynde records is going to have the Pretenders stamp, at least philosophically, this dozen song album finds her in fine, typically swaggering form. The few rockers such as the opening title track where she recounts the pleasures of being “Alone” with her usual brass-in-pocket sneer, along with the pounding “Mystery Achievement” drums of “Gotta Wait” and the bluesy “Chord Lord” make it clear Hynde hasn’t lost her sassy strut.

Still, it’s the ballads that dominate. While songs such as the lovely acoustic finger-picked “Blue Eyed Sky,” the heartfelt and reflective “The Man You Are” and the bittersweet piano lilt of “Death is Not Enough” with its surf twang guitar are beautifully crafted and sung with Hynde’s husky, immediately distinctive purr, perhaps a few more taut, tightrope walking, tough talking rockers would solidify the Auerbach connection. And the less said about the closing single “Holy Commotion” with its commercial leaning synths and chilly, overly stilted playing, the better.

Thankfully, the quality of “Roadie Man,” about … well, roadies, with its soulful and insistent groove, the dreamy “Let’s Get Lost” (perhaps the closest Hynde gets to a full throated love song here), and the pissed off, flinty “I Hate Myself” (“I hate my requisite phony destruction”) with its dark ’60s vibe that, as its title implies, takes a hard look in the mirror as the singer repeats the title about two dozen times, show Hynde has maintained her quality control. These songs glow and grow on you and, with vocals that were recorded in a quick 48 hours, maintain the edge the best Pretenders music always displayed.

Alone won’t go down as a great Pretenders disc up there with Learning to Crawl or the magnificent debut, but it’s no embarrassment either. Despite the lack of rockers, Hynde hasn’t mellowed even if her music has. OK, so there isn’t a cohesive Pretenders band anymore; over 35 years into her career, Chrisse Hynde remains a powerful and iconic presence. We should be thankful she’s still at it and recording music as impressive and distinctive as Alone.