I bought this album on the strength of the cover alone.
On the cover photo, the boys in the band look more than a little silly – on the left, bassist Pete Farndon looks as if he’s lost in space (which apparently he was, R.I.P.) while on the right, drummer Martin Chambers and guitarist James Honeyman Scott look sort of goofy, as if they’re laughing to themselves at some lame joke.
Chrissie Hynde is another matter entirely. Looking straight at the camera, she conveys a look that is best described as “I’m sorry, but you do not want to f*ck with me.” And that is a pretty good description of the music on “Pretenders.” The brief liner notes advise the listener to PLAY THIS ALBUM LOUD, and that’s not a bad idea. As far as musicianship goes, you’re not going to hear a lot of subtlety or “tasty licks” on this record, at least not on Side One – it’s intended to be an assault on the senses (I mean that as a compliment), so if you’re going to take the dive, you might as well jump in the deep end. Side Two slows things down a bit, although it does include “Brass in Pocket,” the hit single.
Money quote, from “Up the Neck:”
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
Like I said before…