The Pretenders – Learning to Crawl
1984 – Sire Records Company
I don’t know if this fits into a “guilty pleasures” type situation (are The Pretenders still cool in 2017?), but I really like this record. I find myself going back to it again and again, so I decided to figure out why. I’m going change up the normal structure here and go track by track:
1. Middle of the Road: This album comes out swinging! Straight in with a drum intro, into heavy guitars, into a catchy vocal riff. The guitar part behind the verses is great, it almost reminds me of an afro-beat type pattern, with a single note line weaving over the vocals. I’m also not sure, but I think I heard a “meow” in there….
2. Back on the Chain Gang: This is the “hit” song of the album. Although many of them are recognizable. This song goes out to the bassist, just following his lines make this song fresh and new, even after hearing it many times. The bassist on this song is Tony Butler, who unfortunately, was not a regular member of the band.
3. Time the Avenger: Chrissie Hynde’s vocals make this track. The music itself is pretty standard, and frankly, a little boring. It is the vocal melody that she came up with over the top of it that gives it character. This track, like the rest of the album, has a ton of energy.
4. Watching the Clothes: The speed and chord movement on this track are fun. Martin Chambers drums are totally 80’s, in sound and feel, and they’re great!
5. Show Me: There is a forward propulsion on this track that balances perfectly with the vocals. Again, like the first track, the guitar work is really something special. That weird little double time disco-esque section, as odd as it is, works perfectly.
Time to get up and flip it…
1. Thumbelina: A completely different sound; rockabilly, because, why not.
2. My City Was Gone: Such funky bass, again, it’s Tony Butler…somebody let him in the band already! (30 years ago). He was in Big Country, which I guess means I should give them a listen.
3. Thin Line Between Love and Hate: Slow jam...and low point of album.
4. I Hurt You: The guitar solo on this song sounds unlike anything else on the album. I really like it for what it is as well as for it’s sonic change from the rest of the record.
5. 2000 Miles: This is a nice wrap up track for the album, it is a little more laid back and brings the whole thing to a close.
So after listening to this and thinking about it track by track, I’m still not sure why I like this album so much…Sure there are instances on almost every track that I really like, but I don’t know why I go back to this album again and again. This might be one of those rare times for me where it is not about the technicality or proficiency of the music and the players, it’s just good, fun music.