Tag Archives: The Pretenders

Return to the 80s Music: Pretenders

Hey Everybody, welcome back to Return to the 80s Music! As I mentioned previously, I will go through chronologically and cover as many 80s albums as I can. We’ll hear some classics, some hidden gems that not everybody may be familiar with, and maybe some nobody has heard of, which can be a great discovery, or something that will make you say What the HELL was that?!?!

I hope this is good and you all enjoy it. I hope we make some rad discoveries, and I know there will be songs that will bring us back to some great times! In either case, it is always awesome to Return to the 80s!

You can click on the song title to check out the YouTube video of the song. I’ll also include the Spotify playlist at the bottom of each article, if the album is on Spotify.

Pretenders group studio NEW YORK CITY, 1980996The 80s began with a lot of debut albums! Today will be The Pretender’s debut album, Pretenders.  Technically, it was released in the U.S. on December 27, 1979, but it was released in the U.K. on January 11, 1980.  In 1989, Rolling Stone ranked this the 20th best album of the 1980s. 

All I had known about this album was “Brass in Pocket” and that Alec would not Leslie have this album in St. Elmo’s Fire. That’s his.

As part of my journey to run a 5k in all 50 states, in the summer of 2018 I went to Colorado to see family and run a race. The week I was in town, Def Leppard and Journey happened to be playing at Coors Field in Denver. Of course I had to get a ticket! It was already going to be an incredible show. Then I found out The Pretenders were the opening act, and I got psyched! And they did not disappoint! Chrissie Hynde sounded the same and looked incredible with a ton of energy. So, I was looking forward to reviewing this album to see if it was as great as it was hyped up to be, or if it’s a pretender.

The album was released on Sire Records in the U.S. on December 27, 1979 and on Real Records in the U.K. on January 11, 1980.  It was produced by Chris Thomas, with the exception of “Stop Your Sobbing” which was produced by Nick Lowe.

The band members on this album are:

  • Chrissie Hynde – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, backing vocals 
  • Martin Chambers – drums, percussion, backing vocals
  • Pete Farndon – bass guitar, backing vocals
  • James Honeyman-Scott – lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals

Now let’s throw this on the turntable and check it out!

Side one

1.  “Precious

Great start! This is a punk rock song I was not expecting.  It was written by Chrissie Hynde (who wrote most of the songs on this album). I love the aggressiveness this which is ironic given the title. This song was released as part of a medley along with “Brass in Pocket” and “Mystery Achievement,” which landed at #28 on the U.S. Dance charts.

2. “The Phone Call” 

Another in-your-face punk rock song! I’m really digging this!

3. “Up the Neck

Another great rock song! It is at a slower tempo than the last two songs, but it still rocks. The lyrics are a little racy too:

Lust turns to anger, a kiss to a slug
Something was sticky on your shag rug, look at the tile
I remember the way he groaned and moved with an animal skill
I rubbed my face in the sweat that ran down his chest
It was all very run of the mill

4. “Tattooed Love Boys

Another great rocker! This has more of a New Wave feel to it. There is an actual music video for this song, and it is just the band playing. Very cool.

5. “Space Invader

And now for something a little different. This is an instrumental written by bassist Pete Farndon and lead guitarist James Honeyman-Scott. It was inspired by the arcade/video game Space Invaders, and you can hear sound effects from the game at the end.

6. “The Wait

This one was written by Pete Farndon once again, along with Chrissie Hynde. This is another great rock song. I had no idea that they rocked so hard! I love it!

7. “Stop Your Sobbing

This is a cover of The Kinks 1964 song, written by Ray Davies from their own debut album. The Pretenders  cover of this song led to the relationship between Ray Davies and Chrissie Hynde which led to the birth of their daughter, Natalie.

This is a good song, and I like the Pretenders’ version more than the Kinks’. This was the debut single for The Pretenders reaching number 34 in the UK. However, it didn’t perform quite as well in the US, reaching number 65 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Side two

8. “Kid

This was the second single released from the album. This song has more of a 60s pop sound than the punk rock sound from the songs on the first side of the album. Hynde wrote the song about a fictional boy discovering that his mother is a prostitute. Chrissie said, “It’s about a prostitute whose son finds out what she does for a living and this is her having a conversation with him. Not all songs are autobiographical.” It’s sad that she actually had to add that last sentence. I can imagine her getting a lot of stupid questions asking if it was about her.


9. “Private Life” 

Chrissie Hynde wrote this song, and not only is it found here, but Grace Jones will be covering it in June 1980. Here is a quote from Hynde regarding this song:

Like all the other London punks, I wanted to do reggae, and I wrote “Private Life”. When I first heard Grace’s version I thought ‘Now that’s how it’s supposed to sound!’ In fact it was one of the high points of my career – what with Sly and Robbie being the masters, and Grace Jones with her scorching delivery. Someone told me it was Chris Blackwell’s idea – thanks Chris!

I can hear the reggae in this a little. This song is ok. I look forward to hearing the Grace Jones version.

10. “Brass in Pocket

This was released as the band’s third single. It was their first big success, scoring number one on the UK Singles Chart for two weeks in January 1980 (making it the first new number-one single of the 1980s), number two in Australia during May 1980 (for three weeks), and number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States.

This is about the narrator/singer about to have her first sexual encounter with a particular person, and is expressing her confidence that the experience will be successful.

The song originated as a guitar line that James Honeyman-Scott played for Chrissie Hynde. Hynde then recorded the part with a tape recorder and wrote the song’s lyrics. Musically, Hynde described the song as “trying to be a Motown song, but it didn’t quite get it.”

11. “Lovers of Today

Slowing things down a bit now. This is a nice ballad. It is kind of sad.

Nobody wants to see
Lovers of today happy
So assumed they’re going to part
Nobody wants to be with someone
So afraid they’ll be left with
A broken heart

12. “Mystery Achievement

We close out with another great song. This kind of reminds me of The Police. 

This was like a tale of two albums. The first side was more punk rock, and the second side was more towards the pop side. I liked both sides, and thought this was a great debut.

Hidden Gems: I’ll go with the first and the final songs on the album – “Precious” and “Mystery Achievement”.

Here is my ratings scale

5 Classic – a must buy

4 Solid album – worth buying

3 Some good or great stuff, but also skippable songs

2 Meh – may have 2 or 3 good songs. Just buy the singles you like, if any

1 Sucks. Time I can’t get back

I’ll give this a solid 4. There were a couple of songs that I felt prevented this from being a perfect album for me. But, I still love it and will have to get this on vinyl. I wonder if Alec still has this one. Maybe I’ll “borrow” this one from him, along with The Stranger.

Let me know what you think of this album and band! I’d love to hear from you!

Feel free to comment below, or connect with me on TwitterInstagram, and/or Facebook. Or you can even email me directly at returntothe80s@gmail.com.

Remember That Song – 11/13/19

Can you name the artist and song:

So you think that it’s over
That your love has finally reached the end
Any time you call, night or day
I’ll be right there for you when you need a friend

Last Song: “Don’t Get Me Wrong” by The Pretenders from the album Get Close (1986)

Great job Adora (@Adora2000) and Lynne (@LynneAshton2)!!!

Suddenly, thunder showers everywhere
Who can explain the thunder and rain?
But there’s something in the air

If you’d like to get this song from Amazon, click on the album cover below:

Top 40 Songs This Week – November 8, 1986: Songs 40-31

dj-casey-kasem-1987-10-17-american-top-40-80s-165Welcome to a brand new week of the Top 40 Countdown! It’s been too long since the last one. It is always fun to go back and reminisce with songs from the ’80s, and rediscover songs we may have forgotten about, or discover new old songs we may have missed the first time around. This week, we will Return to 1986. This was right in the middle of high school for me. I had just begun my junior year. This was an ancient time when we actually celebrated Halloween and Thanksgiving, and didn’t just jump from Labor Day to Christmas. Right now, we are between Halloween and Thanksgiving. In high school, we were beginning to wrap up our Fall sports. I did Cross Country, so it was starting to get a little too cold to run in tank tops and those pre-Michael Jordan ’80s shorts. Soccer and Field Hockey were wrapping up, and we were ramping up for the big Thanksgiving Day football game.
Now, let’s Return to the week ending November 8, 1986, and listen to what was on the radio back then. You can click on the song title to get the YouTube video, and you can click on the album cover to check out the song on Amazon.

40. “Shake You Down” by Gregory Abbott

We begin the countdown with Gregory Abbott’s debut into the Top 40. This lead single from Abbott’s debut album Shake You Down was his biggest hit, and would go on to hit the top of the charts. Gregory Abbott is still out there releasing music – most recently, 2019’s “My Heart Has Found a Home“.



39. “You Know I Love You…Don’t You?” by Howard Jones

This was from Jones’ third studio album One to One. It didn’t hit the Top 40 in the U.K., peaking at #43. However on this chart, it would peak all the way up to #17.




38. “Wild Wild Life” by Talking Heads

This is one of my all-time favorite Talking Heads songs. Released as the lead single from their seventh studio album True Stories, it would peak at #25. The video is also a lot of fun, and won “Best Group Video” at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1987.




37. “Don’t Get Me Wrong” by The Pretenders

This song would eventually peak at #10. The Pretenders were in a major transitional period at this point. This was the first single off of the Get Close album. A few years earlier, original members James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon died of drug overdoses. During the recording of this album, Chrissie Hynde found that Martin Chambers’ drumming had deteriorated, still struggling after losing his 2 best friends. So Hynde let him go, leaving her as the only original Pretenders member. The album turned out to be a success. Chambers reunited with The Pretenders for their 1994 album Last of the Independents (which produced the smash single “I’ll Stand By You“), and has been there ever since. I saw them open for Journey and Def Leppard in the summer of 2018, and they still rocked. Look for them touring with Journey in the summer of 2020!


36. “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel

This is easily my favorite Peter Gabriel tune. It would only peak at #26 on this chart, but was a #1 hit on the Mainstream Rock chart. This came of Gabriel’s smash album So. However, it will forever be linked with the iconic scene in the 1989 movie, Say Anything…, as John Cusack’s Lloyd Dobler is holding a boombox, over his head, with this song blaring outside of Diane Court’s (Ione Skye) bedroom.


35. “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)” by Glass Tiger

This classic by the Canadian rock group, Glass Tiger, was starting to drop out of the countdown, falling from 28 to 35. But, it was a smash hit in Canada and in the U.S., hitting #1 and #2, respectively. And yes, that is fellow Canadian Bryan Adams on backing vocals.



34. “(Forever) Live and Die” by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (OMD)

This song by the English electronic band was climbing up the charts this week. It would go on to peak at #19 in the US, #11 in the UK, and it would break into the Top 10 in several other countries.




33. “What About Love” by ‘Til Tuesday

Yes, ‘Til Tuesday had other songs besides “Voices Carry“. And somebody else besides Heart did a song called “What About Love“. This song isn’t as good as either. But Aimee Mann has a great voice, and this song isn’t too bad.



32. “Two of Hearts” by Stacey Q

Here is another song on the way out of the countdown, dropping from 23 to 32 this week. But not before becoming a huge hit, peaking at #3, and becoming one of the highest selling singles of 1986. The song was ranked number twenty-seven in VH1’s 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the ’80s.



31. “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King

This 1961 Ben E. King hit song was re-released to coincide with the classic 1986 movie of the same name. It peaked at #4 in 1961 and peaked at #9 in 1986. In the ’80s, there was a lot of ’50s and ’60s nostalgia in movies, television, and music. There were many ’60s covers in the ’80s. And there were several re-releases, including this one.


That wraps up today’s list of songs. Let me know what you think so far. What were you doing this week in 1986? Any favorite memories you’d like to share? We’ll be back tomorrow to continue the countdown.

Remember That Song – 4/4/19

Can you name the artist and song:

Panic bells, it’s red alert
There’s something here from somewhere else

Last Song: “Brass in Pocket” by The Pretenders from the album Pretenders (1980)

Great job Roy (@rbutt14)!!!

Got motion restrained emotion
Been driving Detroit leaning
No reason just seems so pleasing

If you’d like to get this song from Amazon, you can click on the album cover below

Remember That Song – 3/11/19

Can you name the artist and song:

Where I came from there’s a place called heaven
That’s the place where all the good children go
The houses are of silver, the streets are gold

Last Song: “Middle of the Road” by The Pretenders from the album Learning to Crawl (1984)

Great job J-Dub (@Dubsism)!!!

Don’t harass me, can’t you tell
I’m going home, I’m tired as hell
I’m not the cat I used to be
I got a kid, I’m thirty-three

If you’d like to get this song from Amazon, you can click on the album cover below

Top 40 Songs This Week – April 14, 1984: Songs 40-31

Hi Everybody, it’s about time for another Top 40! This week, we are Returning to the mid-’80s: specifically 1984. This was a very good year for movies and music. There was one movie, which was released 2 months before this countdown, that heavily influenced the music landscape. You’ll know what movie I’m talking about before we even finish this first list of songs. This week’s countdown is also brought to you by my flu-induced fever. So, if I seem a little more crazy than usual, and don’t make sense, we’ll blame it on the fever, and you can just go ahead and click on the song titles to enjoy this awesome music! So, let’s Return to the week ending April 14, 1984, and begin the countdown!

40. “Borderline” by Madonna

What a great way to start the countdown! This is one of my favorite Madonna songs, and was her first Top 10 hit. 31 years later she is still releasing new music. She just released her 13th studio album, Rebel Heart, last month. Her appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon proved that she still has a presence. However, Jimmy Fallon’s over-the-top ass kissing was even more over-the-top than usual in the interview. Even though I didn’t care too much for the song itself, her performance of “Bitch I’m Madonna” was outstanding, and proved that she’s just as good as any pop star out there today (which really isn’t saying much – but still).

39. “Dancing in the Sheets” by Shalamar

Here is the first song in this countdown from the movie Footloose. This song also came off of the R&B group’s eighth album, Heartbreak. This was Shalamar’s first album without Jeffrey Daniel and Jody Watley.

38. “Let’s Hear It For the Boy” by Deniece Williams

OK, is everbody starting to see a trend here already? This was a huge hit from Footloose. It hit #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, as well as the dance and R&B charts. This song also had backing vocals by George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam, who would go on to become known as the duo Boy Meets Girl.

37. “One in a Million” by The Romantics

This song was from The Romantics’ fourth album, In Heat. That album was better known for the hit, “Talking in Your Sleep“. This song peaked right here at #37. That sounds about right.

36. “Oh, Sherrie” by Steve Perry

YES!!!! “You should’ve been gooooone/Knowing how I made you feel/And I should’ve been goooone/After all your words of steel” This was the Journey singer’s biggest solo hit. This was written for Steve Perry’s then-girlfriend Sherrie Swafford (who also appears in the video). Lucky for us, he decided to jinx his relationship by writing a song for her instead of going with the traditional tattoo-of-her-name jinx. This song is a stand out on Perry’s Street Talk album, which is solid with outstanding songs.

35. “No More Words” by Berlin

This was Berlin’s first Top 40 hit, and my favorte song of theirs.

34. “Holding Out For a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler

Footloose song #3 so far. This is one of my favorite songs from that soubndtrack. It is a great rocker. I love Bonnie Tyler’s edgy voice. The music is awesome too. It was written by Jim Steinman (who wrote a lot of Meatloaf’s biggest hits) and Dean Pitchford. This song also played during an awesome part of the Footloose movie.

33. “The Kid’s American” by Matthew Wilder

The only song I knew Matthew Wilder had was “Break My Stride.” This is the song that prevented him from being a one hit wonder. This song isn’t too bad. I don’t know if I’ll run out and buy it, but I kind of like it. It’s a good upbeat song, and even has a dueling sax solo!

32. “Show Me” by The Pretenders

This song was off of the Pretenders’ third album, Learning to Crawl. This was the first album they came out with after two of their members, James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon both died of drug overdoses. This song isn’t mind-blowing, but it is a solid Pretenders tune. If you like the band, you’ll like this song.

31. “Breakdance” by Irene Cara

This was a perfect song at the peak of the break dancing craze. This song would peak at #8, making it Irene Cara’s third (and last) Top 10 hit.

Well that wraps up today’s list of songs. I’m still alive, and able to type, so I’ll be back tomorrow to continue the countdown. There are going to be some more classics this week, so please come back.