Getting Close With The Pretenders In 1987

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I was never a big fan of The Pretenders, but my wife was, and we saw them in 1987 on their tour for their fourth album, Get Close.  And it was a truly excellent concert; as bands can do, they won me over with their live performance.  (If you think you don’t like Hall & Oates, that’s because you haven’t seen them in concert!)

It was a bonus for the audience that Iggy Pop was the opening act; in fact, and unfortunately for those of us who went mostly to see The Pretenders, some of the more enthusiastic audience members came ONLY for Mr. Pop and heckled The Pretenders mercilessly when they succeeded him, prompting Chrissie Hynde to kneel, kiss the stage where Iggy had trod, and demand of the audience “Okay – are you happy now?”  Such a clear memory from so many years ago – not something you often see in a hockey arena!

The Pretenders, Mark III

Fans will know about the various incarnations of the band and the deaths of talented early members James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon.  The band that played on Get Close was sure different from the original group, but they got the job done, and the album contains some of The Pretenders’ best songs.  They had a huge hit with the irresistible “Don’t Get Me Wrong,” and you know you love “Tradition of Love” and “How Much Did You Get for Your Soul.”  But – at this distance of years – I doubt there’s much disagreement that the best, and it’s stunningly good, song on the album is the sublime ballad “Hymn to Her.”

Before And After

At that point, The Pretenders had already had a lot of success and produced a lot of hits, right from the early “Brass in Pocket” (which I always hated – and if you do a bit of Googling, you will find that Hynde herself is clearly no great fan of the song) to the third album’s brilliant “Middle of the Road” and lovely, elegiac “Back on the Chain Gang.”  Still ahead were such fine songs as “Sense of Purpose” and “I’ll Stand By You,” but you’d be forgiven for thinking that, after Get Close, the band’s fire was burning low.  This fourth album, however, still sounds pretty damned good.  Give it another spin and see what you think.

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