Sunday, July 26, 2020

Kat's Korner: Pretenders sell hate, love, glory, anger and power

Kat: From "Hate For Sale"'s  opening jangles that declare anger and frustration, it's clear Chrissie Hynde's thinking about the past as well as the future.  Her past in the way the riffs and vocals bring to mind a number of tracks on 1980's PRETENDERS, the band's debut album, as well as the frustrations we're living through currently.

Pretenders - Pretenders are pleased to announce brand new...

If that's all the band's new album, HATE FOR SALE, had to offer, that would be more than enough.  But "The Buzz" follows and it's one of those mid-tempo songs that Hynde's vocals caress in all the right places, reminding you that angles probably wish they sounded like Chrissie.

On this follow up to 2016's ALONE, Chrissie is joined by a number of people.  The best news there is that drummer Martin Chambers is back.  He and Chrissie are the last living members of the original band -- James Honeymoon-Scott and Pete Farndon died from cocaine (1982) and heroin (1983) use.  This is Martin's ninth studio album, he last appeared on 2002's LOOSE SCREW.  He missed out on ALONE but, lucky him, he also missed out on 2008's BREAK UP THE CONCRETE which has to be the band's worst album ever.

The Pretenders first hit with the singles "Stop Your Sobbin'," "Kid" and "Brass In Pocket" in 1979 -- in the United Kingdom.  It would be 1980 before US listeners fell in love with "Brass In Pocket" and agreed with Chrissie's boast, "I'm special . . . so special."  

BREAK UP THE CONCRETE excepted, the Pretenders' discography has always been pretty special.

I'd rank the following albums as classics:



5) ISLE OF THE VIEW (a live album -- the tenth album Martin played drums on, by the way)






Even LAST OF THE INDEPENDENTS, a mixed album, to be sure, has its moments.  For the casual listener, it probably takes something like THE SINGLES to grasp just how important the Pretenders are.  That 1987 album, a collection of previously released singles, demonstrates that the group is a seminal as the Rolling Stones (HOT ROCKS would be the Stones' collection to grab if you doubt their importance).  Chrissie and company took a rock sound and various other strands and threaded them together into something unique and powerful.  THE SINGLES doesn't feature any tracks from PACKED! because that album wasn't released until 1990.  GREATEST HITS, released in 2000 doesn't have that excuse but it also ignores PACKED! That's despite the fact that "Never Do That" reached number four on the US alternative chart and number five on the US mainstream rock chart while "Hold A Candle To This" reached number 18 on the alternative chart and "Sense of Purpose" reached number 23 on the same chart.  Maybe that's why GREATEST HITS sold so poorly while THE SINGLES continues to sell to this day.  Between the two collections, ISLE OF THE VIEW came out and it's been a longterm seller like SINGLES -- it also includes "Sense of Purpose" and "Criminal" from PACKED! and serious listeners tend to notice things like that -- what gets included, what gets excluded.  When ISLE OF THE VIEW was recorded, 1990's PACKED! wasn't the new album, that album was five years old by then.  The songs were included because the band's fans loved them.  How the whole album was ignored on GREATEST HITS goes to why that album didn't sell.

Now the band wants to sell HATE FOR SALE.  Should you be buying?

Absolutely.  This is a solid collection and one of the band's finest.

Crying in public's an unfortunate thing
A woman in love is a delicate thing
And a woman who's sad for no reason at all
Will be crying in public, in the car, or the mall
Crying in public, crying in public

She's on the train, alone there she sits
Sobbing her heart out, falling to bits
On a park bench on a sunny day
When a woman's distressed, you best look away
If she's crying in public, crying in public

Feminists claim that we're all the same
But I don't know a man who's felt the same shame

She might look a million or only ten cents
When mascara runs, there's no recompense
Aristocrat, popper, or the bourgeoisie
All know what it feels like when life's misery
Means crying in public, crying in public

That's "Crying In Public" and, like all the tracks on this new album, Chrissie wrote it with the band's guitarist James Walbourne.  It's a stand out track on album ten stand outs.  "Maybe Love Is In NYC" is another one.

The Beatles broke up after ABBEY ROAD was released in the fall of 1969, August 1969 would be the last time the band recorded together.  In April of 1970, Paul McCartney would announce the band was finished.  A month later, LET IT BE, the final studio album, would be released -- based on recordings from January 1969 through April of that year before the recordings were abandoned and work on ABBEY ROAD began.

What might have been if the band had stayed together?  We all wonder that.  The Beatles made great albums and, starting with REVOLVER (or RUBBER SOUL, if you prefer), they were on a non-stop artistic high.  

Could that have continued?  Maybe.  Likely not.  

The Rolling Stones was their peer group.  This year they released another classic single with "Living In A Ghost Town."  And, since 1970, they've released classic albums like STICKY FINGERS, EXILE ON MAIN ST., GOAT'S HEAD SOUP, SOME GIRLS, EMOTIONAL RESCUE, TATTOO YOU, UNDERCOVER  and A BIGGER BANG.  They also released some other albums -- and we'll leave it at that.

Had the Beatles stayed together, it's very likely that they would have released more classics like the Stones did as well as more albums that were less than that (like the Stones did).

Considering the odds, it's amazing that the Pretenders have only released one album that sucked (BREAK UP THE CONCRETE) in all this time.  They've released ten classic studio albums, a classic collection (THE SINGLES), a classic live album (ISLE OF THE VIEW) and even Chrissie Hynde's first solo album, if you want to count that as well.  HATE FOR SALE is a classic and if you're not getting what a must-have, must-listen this album is, check out "You Can't Hurt A Fool."