Learning to Crawl

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Learning to Crawl
Studio album by The Pretenders
Released January 1984
Recorded 1982–83 at AIR Studios, London
Genre New wave, alternative rock
Length 39:21
Label Sire
Producer Chris Thomas
The Pretenders chronology
Pretenders II
(1981)
Learning to Crawl
(1984)
Get Close
(1986)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars link
Chicago Tribune 3.5/4 stars link
Robert Christgau A− link
The Music Box 5/5 stars link
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars link

Learning to Crawl is the Pretenders' third album, released in 1984 after a two-year hiatus, during which time James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon both died of drug overdoses.

After Farndon's dismissal from the band and Honeyman-Scott's death, Chrissie Hynde and Martin Chambers initially recruited Rockpile's Billy Bremner and Big Country's Tony Butler to fill in a caretaker line-up of the band in 1982. Bremner played guitar and Butler played bass on the band's September 1982 single "Back on the Chain Gang/My City Was Gone", both sides of which were later included on Learning to Crawl. As the album sessions got under way, Bremner, Graham Parker's bass player Andrew Bodnar, and Paul Carrack (formerly of Squeeze, Ace and Roxy Music) played guitar, bass and piano respectively for the track "Thin Line Between Love and Hate".

Finally, Robbie McIntosh (guitar) and Malcolm Foster (bass) were recruited to join Hynde and Chambers, and the band was now officially a quartet. It was this line-up that recorded the majority of the tracks featured on Learning to Crawl.

The November 1983 single "2000 Miles/Fast or Slow (The Law's the Law)" was the newly reconstituted foursome's first release, followed shortly by the full Learning to Crawl album in January 1984.

Hynde named the album "Learning to Crawl" because her daughter, Natalie Rae Hynde, was learning to crawl at the time that Chrissie was trying to determine a name for the album.

Origin of The Songs[edit]

Hynde noted in the booklet for the expanded edition of "Learning to Crawl" that guitarist Robbie McIntosh came up with the opening guitar riff for the song[which?]. She stated that she probably should have credited McIntosh as co-writer of the song for providing the opening to the song.[1]

The song "2000 Miles" became a popular Christmas song in the UK. Often interpreted as a tale of two lovers apart during the holidays, Hynde wrote the song for her former bandmate James Honeyman Scott after he died prior to beginning work on the band's third album.

"My City Was Gone" is largely an autobiographical song written about the changes that Hynde observed when she went back to her native city of Akron, Ohio.[2]

"Watching the Clothes" was an older song that was written before the band's debut album. Hynde was inspired to write the song after a close friend had died.[3]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Chrissie Hynde, except as indicated.

  1. "Middle of the Road" – 4:08
  2. "Back on the Chain Gang" – 3:44
  3. "Time the Avenger" – 4:47
  4. "Watching the Clothes" – 2:46
  5. "Show Me" – 4:00
  6. "Thumbelina" – 3:12
  7. "My City Was Gone" – 5:14
  8. "Thin Line Between Love and Hate" (Richard Poindexter, Robert Poindexter, Jackie Members) – 3:33
  9. "I Hurt You" – 4:27
  10. "2000 Miles" – 3:30

Bonus tracks (2007 Re-release)[edit]

  1. "Fast or Slow (The Law's the Law)" (Martin Chambers) – 3:15
  2. "Tequila" – 3:35
  3. "I Hurt You" (Denmark Street Demo, August 1982) – 4:06
  4. "When I Change My Life" (Denmark Street Demo, August 1982) – 4:43
  5. "Ramblin' Rob" (Denmark Street Demo, August 1982) (Robbie McIntosh) – 3:32
  6. "My City Was Gone" (Live) – 4:53
  7. "Money (That's What I Want)" (Live at US Festival, May 1983) (Berry Gordy Jr., Janie Bradford) – 4:39

Personnel[edit]

Additional personnel[edit]

  • Billy Bremner – lead guitar on "Back on the Chain Gang" and "My City Was Gone", rhythm guitar and vocals on "Thin Line Between Love and Hate"
  • Tony Butler – bass guitar on "Back on the Chain Gang" and "My City Was Gone"
  • Andrew Bodnar – bass guitar and vocals on "Thin Line Between Love and Hate"
  • Paul Carrack – piano and vocals on "Thin Line Between Love and Hate"

Charts[edit]

Album

Year Chart Position
1984 The Billboard 200 5

Singles

Year Single Chart Position
1983 "Back on the Chain Gang" Billboard Mainstream Rock 4
1983 "Back on the Chain Gang" Billboard Pop Singles 5
1983 "Middle of the Road" The Billboard Hot 100 19
1983 "My City Was Gone" Billboard Mainstream Rock 11
1983 "Middle of the Road" Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play 43
1984 "Show Me" The Billboard Hot 100 28
1984 "Thin Line Between Love and Hate" The Billboard Hot 100 83

Certifications[edit]

Organization Level Date
RIAA – USA Gold 18 April 1984
RIAA – USA Platinum 18 April 1984

References[edit]

  1. ^ CD booklet "Learning to Crawl" expanded edition, 2007, Rhino Records
  2. ^ CD booklet, "Learning to Crawl" expanded edition, 2007, Rhino Records
  3. ^ CD booklet, "Learning to Crawl" expanded edition, 2007, Rhino Records