Why is Pretenders on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
A self-assured, unique, and uniquely good debut album from Chrissie Hynde and crew.
Some stats & info about Pretenders
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock, Rock Music, Pop, Pop Music, New Wave, Punk Rock
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #152
- All Music’s rating – 5 out of 5 stars
- When was Pretenders released? 1980
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #736 out of 1,000
Pretenders on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.
What does Pretenders mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
It’s happened a number of times now that when I’m set to write about a particular entry in this here best 1,000 albums list that something extremely timely is going on in the world or happens to me that is somehow extremely relevant.
In this case, I just happened to catch the new limited series on Hulu about the Sex Pistols, called as it turns out, Pistol. It’s a fairly good series with some drawbacks, which perhaps I’ll get into (spoiler alert!) if and when the Sex Pistols come up again.
I mention this because there’s a female character with a fairly large role on Pistol who I came to realize was Chrissie Hynde. This lead me to learn more about Hynde (in addition to the Sex Pistols, which really is its own fascinating story).
Hynde was in bands with, played music with, or was generally around the music scene with many of the most famous punk and new wave bands in both the U.S. and UK. I was particularly blown away that one of her first bands included Mark Mothersbaugh, who would go onto be in Devo.
Which is all background in saying that by the time Chrissie Hynde went onto form the Pretenders in the late 1970s, she was an accomplished musician and musical force. And I believe that’s a large reason why the Pretenders self-titled debut sounds so self-assured, unique, and uniquely good in equal measure.
It’s an album too that particularly should be played straight through – how the album format was designed for, after all!
It helps of course that the lead track, “Precious,” is the best song on the album, a fantastically fun full blast of punky new wave, punctuated delightfully by Hynde’s vocals.
I dig the driving, soaring guitar on “The Phone Call,” which could almost be pulled off an early Midnight Oil record.
“Brass in Pocket” is one of the Pretenders’ best known songs, and shows off how ably the band can pivot into a much more mainstream and accessible direction while still maintaining a wholly original sound.