Monday, November 5, 2012

155. Pretenders. The Real Thing

Album: Pretenders
Artist: Pretenders
Genre: Rock
Year: 1979


  1. Precious
  2. The Phone Call
  3. Up the Neck
  4. Tattooed Love Boys
  5. Space Invader
  6. The Wait
  7. Stop Your Sobbing
  8. Kid
  9. Private Life
  10. Brass in Pocket
  11. Lovers of Today
  12. Mystery Achievement

There aren't a huge number of women on this countdown. So few in fact that I've tagged them Women so  I could keep track. Of the 31 albums that I've tagged Women most are pop or country which are areas in which there is a comfortable place for the female. We know what roles women play in these genres, in pop they're sexy chanteuse figures and in country they're hard done by girls whose men have done them wrong. But rock is much harder. When the guitar is seen as a phallic symbol and rock singing is all about volume, gusto and male bravado, where does a woman fit in? And how does she find her lyrical niche in a society with different gender values? A male can sing about the number of sexual conquests and he's a hero but if a woman tries the same things she's a slut (I can think of a number of words for a woman with vast sexual experience and all of them are derogatory. I can also think of a few words for sexually experienced men and all of them are complimentary- stud, stallion etc). If you type "female frontwomen" into google you will find the inevitable series of lists but the focus isn't all on "best" or "most talented" the top result lists the 40 sexiest frontwomen.

So in a male dominated world how does a woman go about breaking a mold and fronting her own rock and roll band? If you're Chrissie Hynde the answer is by striking out in a new direction. Hynde doesn't try and be Jagger or Plant and isn't interested in trying to compete with males on their terms. She takes her eclectic musical interests and blends them into a style which became a blueprint all of its own. She's not screaming or shrieking, she's not trying to move outside her range and she's content to introduce a bit of feminine subtlety into the musical mix. She's a bit punk but a lot rock and a bit pop as well.

Pretenders are a great band and Pretenders is a great album. Brass in Pocket is the song everyone knows even if they don't know what the title is (its the song that goes "Gonna use my arms, gonna use my legs... gonna use my my my imagination" etc. Trust me you'd know if you heard it) and it's by no means the only treat. Private Life and Precious are great songs although I don't understand why you would choose Stop Your Sobbing as the only cover. I'm a fan of the Kinks but Sobbing is nowhere near their greatest songs and for some reason it just doesn't work that well when Hynde sings it, she's much better doing her own material.

Pretenders proved that girls could do rock and roll as well as the boys and more to the point could do it in their own way without having to try and emulate the men who normally front rock bands.

Highlight: Brass in Pocket
Lowlight: Stop Your Sobbing

Influenced by: Iggy Pop
Influenced: Girls in rock

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I'm 45 and have played guitar since '68."

-Thanks for letting us know

So is this the real thing or just pretend? Let me know below.


  1. Just a very minor qualm: the name of the band is "Pretenders" not "The Pretenders"

    1. Thanks for pointing that out. I've made some corrections.