I took to the Pretenders right away and in 1980 I devoured their self titled debut record. The Pretenders wasn’t Punk but it was also not New Wave, they sat right in between these two genres and Chrissie Hynde burst into the Music scene and took no prisoners. When Pretenders II came out in 1981 I once again bought it without hesitation and once again it was an instant stable in my vinyl collection. As 1982 rolled around tragedy struck with the overdose death of guitarist James Honeyman Scott and in an effort to save the band Hynde had to fire Bassist Pete Farndon (also a drug addict) who died as well by an overdose in April of 1982. A year’s pause and as their third album approached its release all of us die heart fans were not so sure that The Pretenders could come back to life with the same sound, the same potent sound of the first two records.
We were of course all wrong, and as “Learning to Crawl” became available we all received a kick in the nuts, fell to the floor, and yes… began to crawl.
There are no fillers here, no “fluff”, just song after awesome song filled with pain, suffering but most of all the rebirth of a woman who fell, learned to crawl, got herself up and simply kicked ass.
The record starts with “Middle of The Road” a tribute of sorts of what life is on the road for a musician and the physical and emotional toll it has on those who take this road. Following is “Back on The Chain Gang” a tribute to their fallen comrades and from there the record never looks back. Through the years, decades I have never stopped playing this record and of course, always from beginning to end, no skips, no fast forward.
While knowing that Hynde hails from Akron Ohio is not necessary to appreciate The Pretenders, but it lends a certain understanding of the meaning of their work and songs like “My City Was Gone”. Fittingly, The Pretenders and Chrissie were inducted into the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame in Ohio in 2005, just a few kilometers away from her birthplace.