First there was Leslie Gore, then along came Grace & Janis, eventually Suzi Quatro – female vocalists of differing power but all who rocked – paving the way for Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders. In may collection I have Debut 1979, II 1981, Get Close 1986, The Singles 1987, Packed! 1990, Last of the Independents 1994, Viva el Amor 1999, Break Up the Concrete 2008. Some started as lps, progressed to cassette & now are here as either standalone or mp3.
I remember hearing that first lp & being struck by the all-out power of her vocals, her lyrics & that tough girl image. Emotionally raw & challenging romantic fantasy while being sexually frank about her own desires this lp is a rock classic. The band is tight, propelling & match her emotions note for note. Without playing it, I can hear Brass in the Pocket.
Their sound didn’t change much over the course of the lps I have but the emotional charge did dissipate – success often tempers anger 🙂 The lyrics become a little more world-view & verge on political. Chrissie reveals some vulnerability as well. In her later solo career she explores jazz .
There were changes in members, in labels, producers yet the band remained consistently focused – there was never, say, a disco phase, or a punk moments or any attempts at hip-hop. No attempts were made to force a hit-parade sound just solid musicianship & powerhouse vocals. If you’re looking for a rock band, look no further – they may be The Pretenders but they’re the real deal.