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Ghost Canyon

Title - The Pretenders Remaster CDs
Artist - Pretenders

First off, I need to say something about the impact that this album has had on the course of popular rock music, both at the time, and still today. From the moment the PRETENDERS first album came out, it was hailed by critics and fans as an immediate rock and roll classic. Perhaps because of the various styles each song explored, while still having a unique sound as a band, you could tell right off, that this was not going to be a gimic band that would come out with a couple of albums and disappear. With talented musicians, the intellegent lyrics tinged with eastern spirituality, and the post punk energy matched up with cutting edge new wave sound production, this band had it all. One song is reggae (PRIVATE LIFE DRUMMER), one song has jazzy, avant guarde time changes through out the song (TATTOOED LOVE BOYS), you have beautiful ballads (LOVERS OF TODAY) next to high energy punk (PRECIOUS), top fourty BRASS IN POCKET pop perfection, and just a general sense of COOLNESS that vibrates all thru this record. One can tell a good album, because it transcends its time, and whatever the current sound might be, to reach back in music history, and grab parts of all that came before, while still breaking enough new ground, to point towards future possiblities. PRETENDERS did that. So, the real question is, you have the CD already, maybe the LP as well, so do you fork over up to 25$ for a new copy? And the answer is a resounding YES! The design of these reissues dumps the JEWEL CASE format, and exchanges it for those mini-album designs. The Mini-LP cover opens up like a Triplych, with the inside central panel showing the album sleeve artwork (remember the boy with the toy robot?), along with photos of each band member, two on this first CD, and the other two on the insides of Pretenders II. So, consider buying both of these together. They make an art statement together!

Of course this is still a great album and sure it cannot compare to the debut (what can?), but in its own right it is stand alone perfect. The original Pretenders were one of those rare bands where all players figure prominently into the final sound. Just listen to how you can hear Pete Farndon's bass in almost every song. Chrissie's songwriting is still great, Martin Chambers and James Honeyman Scott are in fine form. Message of Love is just a flat out great tune and subsequent single, The Adultress and Jealous Dogs keep rockin' right where the first record stopped. Birds of Paradise and The English Roses are beautifully written and performed; songs comparable to Kid from the debut. But my favorite song and one of the Pretenders finest tunes has got to be Talk of the Town - gorgeous driving melody and wistful lyrics with that Chrissie Hynde stamp "Oh, but its hard to live by the rules, I never could and still never do." In 20 year hindsight there are some weaknesses that I can reluctantly admit - some critics have rightfully accused Pack It Up as a self parody (but it still sounds cool); a second Kinks cover in as many albums, and as some overly anal (sorry, I mean 'astute') reviewers have noted down the years, Bad Boys Get Spanked is a re-write of Tattooed Love Boys (but check out that Clint Eastwood/Dirty Harry sample anyway!), but all in all these two CDs encapsulate a wonderful follow-up to a crackin' debut.