When The Pretenders appeared on the scene in 1978, Chrissie Hynde was as fully-formed a rock star as any of the great front men that came before her. She knew exactly what she was doing, bringing some powerful female mojo to a predominately male terrain and leveling the playing field. She kicked ass. Still does. And does it with such flash-free finesse that you won’t know what hit you until it’s too late. Her lyrics, attitude and look oozes classic coolness while bringing some of punk’s “fuck you” vibe to the mix. With a voice that can achieve crescendos of girl group sublimity and then shift effortlessly into a sarcastic snarl, Hynde works every angle, from lovely to lethal, with the supple toughness of well-worn leather. A chick who can sling words as well as a guitar and tambourine, she’s the whole fucking package.
The Pretenders were not Hynde alone by a long shot. The original line-up of Hynde, James Honeyman-Scott, Martin Chambers and Pete Farndon possessed an alchemical magic that subsequent versions of The Pretenders never quite duplicated. The loss of Farndon and Honeyman-Scott to drugs shifted the focus totally in the direction of Hynde, who could hold it, but the sense of The Pretenders being a “band” band was pretty much over. The strength of her songwriting, performance and partnership with Chambers keep the vibe alive, but that first incarnation (two albums) was a real monster.
Here’s a collection of videos that cover 25 years of The Pretenders history. An amazing legacy and one that continues still.
Talk Of The Town (Top Of The Pops, 1980)
The Adultress (Fridays, 1981)
The Wait (Alright Now, 1980)
Hollywood Perfume (Later with Jools Holland, 1994)
Brass In Pocket (Top Of The Pops, 1979)
977 (Later with Jools Holland, 1994)
Never Do That (Wogan, 1990)
Thumbelina (The New Show, 1984)
2000 Miles (Pebble Mill, 1995)
Night In My Veins (Top Of The Pops, 1994)
My City Was Gone (Phoenix, AZ, 1994)
Tattooed Love Boys (Alright Now, 1980)
Middle Of The Road (MTV, 1984)
Don’t Get Me Wrong (Top Of The Pops, 1986)
Criminal (Pebble Mill, 1995)
Roomful Of Mirrors (Montreaux Jazz Festival, 2003)
Louie Louie (Fridays, 1981)
Stop Your Sobbing (Top Of The Pops, 1979)
Tattooed Love Boys/Up The Neck (Old Grey Whistle Test, 1980)