The Pretenders

I completely loved and rocked this disc when it came out in 1980 and it is still a great favorite of mine and a very influential release. The guitar team of Chrissie Hynde and James Honeyman-Scott perfectly complimented each other in that Hynde was a rough and ready writer and rhythm player who favored really snarling or jangling guitars, sometimes with a very odd meter, and Honeyman-Scott was a tasteful, melodic, yet fiery lead player who complimented Hynde with finessed leads, fills and riffs. The whole first side just rocks with great tunes like Precious, The Phone Call, Tattooed Love Boys and The Wait. The second side has the radio-friendly but still very distinctive Brass in Pocket, Kid and Mystery Achievement.

Honeyman-Scott was a great young talent and although he didn’t take long chops-oriented solos, he was capable of being a real tasteful studio player, bringing in the perfect lead or riff that suited a song, while also getting wild and crazy live. Hynde also had a very different approach to guitar rhythm and I’ve always dug her playing. The Phone Call is a song that showcases how the two of them worked together — Chrissie’s snarlingang ang ang ang a-agn riff and then an interesting diminished climb, probably contributed by Honeyman-Scott. Unfortunately, both Honeyman-Scott and bassist Pete Farndon died of drug-related causes soon after the release of the 2nd Pretenders record. The tragedy of this is that really they had just begun to explore the possibilities of what could’ve been an even bigger and more influential band.

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