Pretenders is the debut studio album by British-American band The Pretenders, released in January 1980. A combination of rock and roll, punk and new wave music,[2] this album made the band famous. The album features the singles "Stop Your Sobbing", "Kid" and "Brass in Pocket".

Studio album by
Released11 January 1980[1]
LabelReal Records
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
  4. "Precious"
    Released: 1980 (EU)

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".[3] Chris Thomas took over on the subsequent recording sessions.

Release edit

Pretenders debuted at number one 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, were not on the original master tape.[4][5] 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.

Another deluxe edition of the album, curated by Hynde, was released on 5 November 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 in London and Paradise Theater in Boston.[6]

Critical reception edit

Contemporary reviews for the album were mixed. In Melody Maker, Chris Brazier called the record "the first important album" of the 1980s, and while the second side of the album was better than the first side, overall "the album is irresistible".[7] However, Tony Stewart of NME criticised Melody Maker for hyping the band, and said that "so much about the Pretenders is reminiscent of '60s pop games that any claim they are innovative is completely invalid". Stewart noted influences from the Velvet Underground, the Beatles, the 1960s beat boom, Blondie and the Police, and while he acknowledged Hynde's talents as a frontwoman, he dismissed the band's playing and inability to lift the music to the level of the lyrics, stating that "they seem unable to give it an edge".[8]

Sounds's Robbi Millar said of the album, "Its success, which should be fairly apparent through the next few months, will be valued not through hype and wildly enthusiastic pen-happy journalists but through a number of strong album tracks." Millar also noted several influences, including Sting and Public Image Ltd, and that the album included three singles and two B-sides that had already been released, but that it also included "seven other worthy tracks" which resulted in "one fine first album".[9]

Retrospective reviews
Review scores
AllMusic     [10]
Blender     [11]
Chicago Tribune    [12]
Mojo     [13]
Rolling Stone     [14]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [15]
Spin     [16]
Spin Alternative Record Guide10/10[17]
The Village VoiceA−[19]

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.[20]

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,[21] with Pretenders maintaining the rating in the 2012 revised list,[22] and moving up to number 152 on the 2020 revision.[23] In 2020, Rolling Stone included the band's debut album in their "80 Greatest albums of 1980" list.[24]

Ultimate Classic Rock critic Bryan Wawzenek rated "Precious", "Kid", "Tattooed Love Boys" and "Brass in Pocket" as being among drummer Martin Chambers' top 10 Pretenders songs.[25]

"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."[26] In her autobiography, Hynde confirms she is singing about herself and her own personal experience.[27]

In 2016, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[28]

Track listing edit

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"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" 5:22
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

Personnel edit

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

Charts edit

Certifications edit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[40] Platinum 50,000^
Belgium (BEA)[41] Gold 25,000*
Netherlands (NVPI)[42] Gold 50,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[43] Gold 7,500^
United Kingdom (BPI)[44] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[45] Platinum 1,000,000^

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

References edit

  1. ^ "BPI".
  2. ^ "Pretenders – Pretenders Album Reviews, Songs & More | AllMusic". AllMusic.
  3. ^ "First Steps: Pretenders 'Pretenders'". Vivascene. 5 December 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  4. ^ "Pretenders S/T SACD coming from MoFi", Steve Hoffman Music Forums, post #11385152, 15 November 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  5. ^ "Pretenders S/T SACD coming from MoFi", Steve Hoffman Music Forums, post #11385207, 15 November 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  6. ^ [1] [dead link]
  7. ^ Brazier, Chris (12 January 1980). "Pretenders stake claim". Melody Maker. p. 17.
  8. ^ Stewart, Tony (12 January 1980). "The pop games people play". NME. p. 27.
  9. ^ Millar, Robbi (12 January 1980). "No feignt hearts". Sounds. p. 18.
  10. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Pretenders – Pretenders". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 March 2006.
  11. ^ Lim, Dennis. "Pretenders: Pretenders / Pretenders II". Blender. Archived from the original on 19 October 2006. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  12. ^ Kot, Greg (12 August 1990). "The Best of the Pretenders". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  13. ^ McNair, James (May 2006). "The Pretenders' snaggle-toothed pop perfection". Mojo. No. 150.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ Dolan, Jon (November 2006). "Reissues". Spin. Vol. 22, no. 11. p. 102. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  17. ^ Powers, Ann (1995). "Pretenders". In Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (eds.). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. pp. 309–10. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  18. ^ Pinnock, Tom (April 2017). "Golden Hynde". Uncut. No. 239. p. 83.
  19. ^ Christgau, Robert (25 February 1980). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  20. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of the 1980s". Slant Magazine. 5 March 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  21. ^ "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.
  22. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 31 May 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  23. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 22 September 2020. Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  24. ^ "The 80 Greatest Albums of 1980 What came out of all this was, arguably, the greatest year for great albums ever". Rolling Stone. 11 November 2020. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  25. ^ Wawzenek, Bryan (4 September 2013). "Top 10 Martin Chambers Pretenders songs". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 28 December 2022.
  26. ^ Daly, Joe (May 2015). "Michael Chabon's 10 life-changing pieces of vinyl". Classic Rock #209. p. unnumbered.
  27. ^ "Chrissie Hynde tells story with tough-girl insouciance".
  28. ^
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ " – The Pretenders – Pretenders" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  31. ^ " – The Pretenders – Pretenders". Hung Medien. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  32. ^ " – The Pretenders – Pretenders". Hung Medien. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  33. ^ " – The Pretenders – Pretenders". Hung Medien. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  34. ^ "Pretenders | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 27 October 2021.
  35. ^ "Pretenders Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 27 October 2021.
  36. ^ "Album Top 40 slágerlista – 2022. 18. hét" (in Hungarian). MAHASZ. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  37. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Album 1980". Retrieved 27 October 2021.
  38. ^ "Top Selling Albums of 1980 – The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Recorded Music New Zealand. Retrieved 28 January 2022.
  39. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1980". Billboard. Retrieved 27 October 2021.
  40. ^ "Kent Music Report No 341 – 5 January 1981 > Platinum and Gold Albums 1980". Kent Music Report. Retrieved 12 November 2021 – via
  41. ^ "Pretenders Gold" (PDF). Cash Box. 5 July 1980. p. 42. Retrieved 2 December 2019 – via American Radio History.
  42. ^ "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. Select 1980 in the drop-down menu saying "Alle jaargangen".
  43. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – The Pretenders – Pretenders". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  44. ^ "British album certifications – The Pretenders – Pretenders". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  45. ^ "American album certifications – The Pretenders – Pretenders". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 12 December 2018.

External links edit