Pretenders (album)

Pretenders is the debut studio album by British-American band The Pretenders, released on 27 December 1979 on Sire Records in the US and on 7 January 1980 under Real Records in the UK. A combination of rock, punk and pop music, this album made the band famous. The album features the singles "Stop Your Sobbing", "Kid" and "Brass in Pocket".

Pretenders album.jpg
Studio album by
Released27 December 1979 (1979-12-27)
LabelSire (US)
The Pretenders chronology
Extended Play
Singles from Pretenders
  1. "Stop Your Sobbing"
    Released: January 1979
  2. "Kid"
    Released: June 1979
  3. "Brass in Pocket"
    Released: November 1979

Nick Lowe produced the Pretenders' first single, "Stop Your Sobbing", but decided not to work with them again as he thought the band was "not going anywhere".[1] Chris Thomas took over on the subsequent recording sessions.


Pretenders debuted at number 1 on the UK Albums Chart in the week of its release and stayed there for four consecutive weeks. It also made the top 10 on the Billboard 200 and was certified Platinum during 1982 by the RIAA.

Pretenders was remastered and re-released in 2006 and included a bonus disc of demos, B-sides and live cuts, many previously unreleased. "Cuban Slide" and "Porcelain" originally appeared as B-sides to "Talk of the Town" and "Message of Love", while "Swinging London" and "Nervous But Shy" both appeared on the flip side of "Brass in Pocket". The Regents Park demo of "Stop Your Sobbing" was included initially as a flexi-single in the May 1981 edition of Flexipop magazine. The tracks "Message of Love", "Talk of the Town", "Porcelain" and "Cuban Slide" alongside a live version of the album's opening track, "Precious", were released on a follow-up EP entitled Extended Play soon after.

Pretenders was also reissued in 2009 by Audio Fidelity as a limited-edition audiophile gold CD, using the original master tapes. However, this remaster suffered from unauthorized, heavy limiting supposedly applied after engineer Steve Hoffman's digital master was created and approved for CD manufacturing. The song "The Phone Call" is missing some of the telephone effects on this release because the effects were "flown in" after the master was completed for the song and, as a result, weren't on the original master tape.[2][3] There were no bonus tracks included.

A shortened version of "Tequila" would be performed nearly 15 years later on the Last of the Independents. "Sabre Dance" features Chrissie Hynde singing portions of "Stop Your Sobbing" over lengthy solos by James Honeyman-Scott and Martin Chambers' insistent drumming, making it a truly unique version.

A cover version of "Brass in Pocket" and the master version of "Precious" are available as downloadable content for Rock Band.

Curated by Chrissie Hynde, Pretenders (Deluxe Edition) was released on November 5, 2021 and features the original album remastered by Chris Thomas, alongside demos, rarities, and many live performances. These include BBC sessions on The Kid Jensen Show, and performances at The Paris Theatre, London and Paradise Theater in Boston.[4]

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [5]
Blender     [6]
Chicago Tribune    [7]
Mojo     [8]
Rolling Stone     [9]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [10]
Spin     [11]
Spin Alternative Record Guide10/10[12]
The Village VoiceA−[14]

In 1989, Rolling Stone ranked Pretenders the 20th best album of the 1980s. In 2012, Slant Magazine listed Pretenders at number 64 on its list of the best albums of the 1980s.[15]

Pretenders has been named one of the best albums of all time by VH1 (#52). In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked the album at number 155 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time,[16] with Pretenders maintaining the rating in the 2012 revised list,[17] and moving up to number 152 on the 2020 revision.[18]

Track listingEdit

All tracks are written by Chrissie Hynde, except where noted. All tracks on the original album were produced by Chris Thomas, except "Stop Your Sobbing" produced by Nick Lowe.

Side one
1."Precious" 3:36
2."The Phone Call" 2:29
3."Up the Neck" 4:27
4."Tattooed Love Boys" 2:59
5."Space Invader" (instrumental)3:26
6."The Wait"3:35
7."Stop Your Sobbing"Ray Davies3:26
Side two
1."Kid" 3:06
2."Private Life" 6:25
3."Brass in Pocket"
  • Honeyman-Scott
  • Hynde
4."Lovers of Today" 5:51
5."Mystery Achievement" 5:51
2006 reissue bonus disc
1."Cuban Slide"
  • Honeyman-Scott
  • Hynde
2."Porcelain" 3:54
3."The Phone Call" (demo, late 1977) 4:33
4."The Wait" (Regents Park demo, 12 April 1978)
  • Farndon
  • Hynde
5."I Can't Control Myself" (Regents Park demo, 12 April 1978)Reg Presley4:24
6."Swinging London" (instrumental)
7."Brass in Pocket" (AIR Studios demo, 6 February 1978)
  • Honeyman-Scott
  • Hynde
8."Kid" (Olympic Studios demo, 6 December 1978) 4:04
9."Stop Your Sobbing" (Regents Park demo, 12 April 1978)Davies3:48
10."Tequila" (Regents Park demo, 12 April 1978) 5:22
11."Nervous but Shy" (instrumental)
  • Farndon
  • Honeyman-Scott
  • Hynde
  • Chambers
12."I Need Somebody" (live on The Kid Jensen Show, BBC Radio 1, 17 July 1979)Rudy Martinez3:48
13."Mystery Achievement" (live on The Kid Jensen Show, BBC Radio 1, 17 July 1979) 4:54
14."Precious" (live at the Paradise Theatre, Boston, 23 March 1980) 3:26
15."Tattooed Love Boys" (live at the Paradise Theatre, Boston, 23 March 1980) 3:06
16."Sabre Dance" (live at the Marquee Club, London, 2 April 1979) (contains elements of "Stop Your Sobbing")3:50

Song notesEdit

  • "This is one of the most astonishing debut albums in the history of music," enthused author Michael Chabon. "On songs like 'Tattooed Love Boys', you're wondering, Who is Chrissie singing about when she says, 'I shot my mouth off and you showed me what that hole was for?' That was just one of those obsessive-listening records for me."[19]
  • "Tattooed Love Boys" is a playable track in the PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 video game Guitar Hero II. Its guitar solo is a homage to James Honeyman-Scott's heroes. "I liked the guitar solo in 'Tattooed Love Boys'," Hynde recalled. "I love Jimmy Scott's playing."[20]
  • "Space Invader" is an instrumental containing sound effects from the 1978 arcade game Space Invaders. It also appeared in the film Cheech and Chong's Next Movie and the television series Miami Vice and The Sopranos.
    • Game developer Dona Bailey cited the song as her introduction to video games, stating it inspired her to play the original arcade game Space Invaders and then join Atari, where she developed the 1980 arcade game Centipede.[21]
  • "Private Life" is featured in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories on fictional radio station Emotion 98.3. It was covered by Grace Jones, on her album Warm Leatherette.
  • "Mystery Achievement" is featured in the closing montage in the final episode of the second season of the HBO show The Deuce, season 2, episode 9, "Inside the Pretend".


The Pretenders

Additional musicians

  • Fred Berk – bass guitar on CD2, track 3
  • Geoff Bryant – French horn
  • Nick Lowe – production on CD1, track 7
  • Henry Lowther – trumpet
  • Gerry Mackelduff – drums on CD1, track 7 and CD2, tracks 4, 5, 7, 9, 10
  • Chris Mercer – saxophone
  • Nigel Pegrum – drums on CD2, track 3
  • Chris Thomas – keyboards, sound effects, production
  • Jim Wilson – trumpet


  • Bill Price – engineer
  • Kevin Hughes – design
  • Chalkie Davies – front cover photography



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[31] Platinum 50,000^
Belgium (BEA)[32] Gold 25,000*
Netherlands (NVPI)[33] Gold 50,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[34] Gold 7,500^
United Kingdom (BPI)[35] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[36] Platinum 1,000,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ "First Steps: Pretenders 'Pretenders'". Vivascene. 5 December 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  2. ^ "Pretenders S/T SACD coming from MoFi", Steve Hoffman Music Forums, post #11385152, 15 November 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  3. ^ "Pretenders S/T SACD coming from MoFi", Steve Hoffman Music Forums, post #11385207, 15 November 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Pretenders – Pretenders". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 March 2006.
  6. ^ Lim, Dennis. "Pretenders: Pretenders / Pretenders II". Blender. Archived from the original on 19 October 2006. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  7. ^ Kot, Greg (12 August 1990). "The Best Of The Pretenders". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  8. ^ McNair, James (May 2006). "The Pretenders' snaggle-toothed pop perfection". Mojo. No. 150.
  9. ^ Scoppa, Bud (11 November 2004). "Pretenders: The Pretenders". Rolling Stone. No. 961. p. 113. Archived from the original on 7 February 2008. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
  10. ^ Considine, J. D.; Skanse, Richard (2004). "The Pretenders". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 653–54. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  11. ^ Dolan, Jon (November 2006). "Reissues". Spin. Vol. 22 no. 11. p. 102. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  12. ^ Powers, Ann (1995). "Pretenders". In Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (eds.). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. pp. 309–10. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  13. ^ Pinnock, Tom (April 2017). "Golden Hynde". Uncut. No. 239. p. 83.
  14. ^ Christgau, Robert (25 February 1980). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  15. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of the 1980s". Slant Magazine. 5 March 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  16. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time: Pretenders – The Pretenders". Rolling Stone. 18 November 2003. Archived from the original on 20 December 2010. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  17. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 31 May 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  18. ^ Rolling Stone (22 September 2020). "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  19. ^ Daly, Joe (May 2015). "Michael Chabon's 10 life-changing pieces of vinyl". Classic Rock #209. p. unnumbered.
  20. ^ Select, July 1990
  21. ^ "The Unsung Female Programmer Behind Atari's Centipede". Vice. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  22. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 238. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  23. ^ " – The Pretenders – Pretenders" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  24. ^ " – The Pretenders – Pretenders". Hung Medien. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  25. ^ " – The Pretenders – Pretenders". Hung Medien. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  26. ^ " – The Pretenders – Pretenders". Hung Medien. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  27. ^ "Pretenders | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 27 October 2021.
  28. ^ "Pretenders Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 27 October 2021.
  29. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Album 1980". Retrieved 27 October 2021.
  30. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1980". Billboard. Retrieved 27 October 2021.
  31. ^ "Kent Music Report No 341 – 5 January 1981 > Platinum and Gold Albums 1980". Kent Music Report. Retrieved 12 November 2021 – via
  32. ^ "Pretenders Gold" (PDF). Cash Box. 5 July 1980. p. 42. Retrieved 2 December 2019 – via American Radio History.
  33. ^ "Dutch album certifications – The Pretenders – Pretenders" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved 12 December 2018. Enter Pretenders in the "Artiest of titel" box.
  34. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – The Pretenders – Pretenders". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  35. ^ "British album certifications – The Pretenders – Pretenders". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 12 December 2018.Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Pretenders in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  36. ^ "American album certifications – The Pretenders – Pretenders". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 12 December 2018.