Pretenders (album)

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Studio album by The Pretenders
Released 19 January 1980 (1980-01-19)
Recorded 1979 at Wessex Studios and Air Studios
Genre Punk rock, alternative rock,
new wave
Length 47:04
Label Real (UK), Sire (US)
Producer Chris Thomas, except "Stop Your Sobbing" produced by Nick Lowe
The Pretenders chronology
Extended Play
Singles from Pretenders
  1. "Stop Your Sobbing"
    Released: 1979 (1979)
  2. "Kid"
    Released: 1979 (1979)
  3. "Brass In Pocket"
    Released: 1979 (1979)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[1]
Chicago Tribune 4/4 stars[2]
Robert Christgau A–[3]
Classic Rock 9/10 stars[4]
The Music Box 4.5/5 stars[5]
MusicHound 4.5/5 stars[6]
Rolling Stone (1980) (favourable)[7]
Rolling Stone (2004) 5/5 stars[8]
Smash Hits 9/10[9]
Spin 10/10[10]
Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[10]

Pretenders is the debut studio album by the British-American band The Pretenders, released on 19 January 1980 under Real Records (Sire Records in the United States). A combination of rock, punk and pop music, this album made the band famous. The album features the singles "Stop Your Sobbing", "Kid" and "Brass in Pocket".

Nick Lowe produced the Pretenders' first single, "Stop Your Sobbing", but decided not to work with them again as he thought the band "wasn't going anywhere".[this quote needs a citation] Chris Thomas took over on the subsequent recording sessions.

Pretenders debuted at number 1 on the UK Albums Chart in the week of its release and stayed there for four consecutive weeks. It also made the top 10 on the Billboard 200 and was certified Platinum during 1982 by the RIAA. Pretenders has been named one of the best albums of all time by VH1 (#52). In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine ranked the album number 155 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, and, in 1989, ranked it the 20th best album of the 1980s. The track "Private Life" was covered that same year by Grace Jones, on her album Warm Leatherette. In 2012, Slant Magazine listed the album at #64 on its list, "Best Albums of the 1980s".[11]

Pretenders was remastered and re-released in 2006 and included a bonus disc of demos, B-sides and live cuts, many previously unreleased. "Cuban Slide" and "Porcelain" originally appeared as B-sides to "Talk of the Town" and "Message of Love", while "Swinging London" and "Nervous But Shy" both appeared on the flip side of "Brass in Pocket". The Regents Park Demo of "Stop Your Sobbing" was included initially as a flexi-single in the May 1981 edition of Flexipop magazine. The tracks "Message of Love", "Talk of the Town", "Porcelain" and "Cuban Slide" alongside a live version of the album's opening track, "Precious", were released on a follow-up EP entitled Extended Play soon after. "Message of Love" contains the Oscar Wilde line "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars" from the play Lady Windermere's Fan.[1]

Pretenders was also reissued in 2009 by Audio Fidelity as a limited edition, audiophile gold CD using the original master tapes. However, this remaster suffered from limiting supposedly applied after engineer Steve Hoffman's digital master was created and approved. The song "The Phone Call" is missing some of the sound effects on this release because they were flown in after the master was completed for the song and, as a result, weren't on the original master tape.[citation needed] There were no bonus tracks included.

A shortened version of "Tequila" would be performed nearly fifteen years later on the Last of the Independents. "Sabre Dance" features Chrissie Hynde singing portions of "Stop Your Sobbing" over lengthy solos by James Honeyman-Scott and Martin Chambers' insistent drumming, making it a truly unique version.

The song "Tattooed Love Boys" is featured as a playable track in the PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 music video game Guitar Hero II. The instrumental "Space Invader" contains sound effects from the video game Space Invaders. "Private Life" is featured in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories on fictional radio station Emotion 98.3. A cover version of "Brass in Pocket" and the master version of "Precious" are available as downloadable content for Rock Band.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Chrissie Hynde unless otherwise indicated.

Side one
  1. "Precious" – 3:36
  2. "The Phone Call" – 2:29
  3. "Up the Neck" – 4:27
  4. "Tattooed Love Boys" – 2:59
  5. "Space Invader" (Pete Farndon, James Honeyman-Scott) – 3:26
  6. "The Wait" (Hynde, Farndon) – 3:35
  7. "Stop Your Sobbing" (Ray Davies) – 2:38
Side two
  1. "Kid" – 3:06
  2. "Private Life" – 6:25
  3. "Brass in Pocket" (Honeyman-Scott, Hynde) – 3:04
  4. "Lovers of Today" – 5:51
  5. "Mystery Achievement" – 5:23
Bonus disc, 2006 remastered CD edition
  1. "Cuban Slide" (Hynde, Honeyman-Scott) – 4:33
  2. "Porcelain" – 3:54
  3. "The Phone Call" – 2:22
    • Demo, late 1977
  4. "The Wait" (Hynde, Farndon) – 3:08
    • Regents Park demo, 12 April 1978
  5. "I Can't Control Myself" (Reg Presley) – 4:24
    • Regents Park demo, 12 April 1978
  6. "Swinging London" (Hynde, Honeyman-Scott, Farndon, Martin Chambers) – 1:55
  7. "Brass in Pocket" (Honeyman-Scott, Hynde) – 3:48
    • AIR Studios demo, 6 February 1978
  8. "Kid" – 4:04
  9. "Stop Your Sobbing" (Ray Davies) – 2:22
    • Regents Park demo, 12 April 1978
  10. "Tequila" – 5:22
    • Regents Park demo, 12 April 1978
  11. "Nervous but Shy" (Hynde, Honeyman-Scott, Farndon, Chambers) – 1:45
  12. "I Need Somebody" (Rudy Martinez) – 4:04
    • Live on The Kid Jensen Show, BBC Radio 1, first transmission 17 July 1979
  13. "Mystery Achievement" – 4:54
    • Live on The Kid Jensen Show, BBC Radio 1, first transmission 17 July 1979
  14. "Precious" – 3:26
    • Live at the Paradise Theatre, Boston, 23 March 1980
  15. "Tattooed Love Boys" – 3:06
    • Live at the Paradise Theatre, Boston, 23 March 1980
  16. "Sabre Dance" (Aram Khachaturian) – 3:50


The Pretenders
Additional musicians



Chart (1980) Peak
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[12] 14
New Zealand Albums (Recorded Music NZ)[13] 2
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[14] 24
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[15] 2
UK Albums Chart[16] 1
US Pop Albums (Billboard) 9


Song Year Chart Position
"Brass in Pocket"/"Mystery Achievement"/"Precious" 1980 Billboard Club Play Singles 28
"Brass in Pocket (I'm Special)" 1980 Billboard Pop Singles 14
"Stop Your Sobbing" 1980 Billboard Club Play Singles 65


Organization Level Date
RIAA (U.S.) Gold 20 June 1980[citation needed]
RIAA (U.S.) Platinum 11 August 1982[citation needed]


  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Pretenders (album) at AllMusic. Retrieved 29 March 2006.
  2. ^ Kot, Greg (12 August 1990). "The Best Of The Pretenders". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Christgau, Robert. "CG: Pretenders". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 16 April 2006. 
  4. ^ Barton, Geoff (December 2006). "The great Pretenders: The Pretenders Reissues". Classic Rock. p. 100. 
  5. ^ Metzger, John (November 2006). "Pretenders Pretenders (Deluxe Edition)". The Music Box (vol. 13, no. 11). Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  6. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 894. ISBN 1-57859-061-2. 
  7. ^ Tucker, Ken (17 April 1980). "Pretenders: The Pretenders : Music Reviews". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2007-11-07. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  8. ^ Scoppa, Bud (11 November 2004). "The Pretenders : Pretenders : Review". Rolling Stone (961). p. 113. Archived from the original on 7 February 2008. Retrieved 3 June 2009. 
  9. ^ Starr, Red. "Albums". Smash Hits (24 January – 6 February 1980): 21. 
  10. ^ a b "Pretenders Pretenders". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "The Pretenders – Pretenders" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  13. ^ "The Pretenders – Pretenders". Hung Medien. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  14. ^ "The Pretenders – Pretenders". Hung Medien. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  15. ^ "The Pretenders – Pretenders". Hung Medien. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  16. ^ "Number 1 Albums – 1980s". The Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 27 June 2011. 
Preceded by
Greatest Hits Vol. 2 by ABBA
UK Albums Chart number one album
19 January – 15 February 1980
Succeeded by
The Last Dance
by Various artists