Break Up the Concrete

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Break Up the Concrete
Studio album by
Released7 October 2008
RecordedApril 2008
GenreAlternative rock
LabelShangri-La Music
ProducerThe Pretenders
The Pretenders chronology
Loose Screw
Break Up the Concrete

Break Up the Concrete is the ninth studio album by rock group The Pretenders. It is their first studio album since Loose Screw in 2002. Several "exclusive" editions of the disc exist (see track listing below); each appends a new countrified version of a vintage Pretenders song, in keeping with the general sound of the album. The title song "Break Up the Concrete" was used in the opening scene of an episode of House M.D. ("5 to 9", season 6, episode 14).

The first edition of Break Up the Concrete also includes a small sheet of "handmade seed paper", which can be planted, and if cared for, promise to sprout within a few weeks. The cover art parodies the sleeve of fellow power-popper Joe Jackson's 1979 debut Look Sharp!

Break Up the Concrete was the first Pretenders album since 1994's Last of the Independents not to feature Martin Chambers on drums. In an interview, Chrissie Hynde said that she was looking for a different style, one she didn't believe Chambers was capable of playing to her satisfaction. Session drummer Jim Keltner took his place in the studio, although Chambers would return for the tour in support of the album.

There were conflicting reports about Chambers' temporary ouster. Hynde claims that Keltner was actually recommended by Chambers and that he was fully aware of his replacement. Chambers, however, claimed in an interview that Hynde hadn't told him about being replaced by Keltner; in fact, he was unaware that an album was even being made until after the sessions were well underway.[1] In a 2016 interview, Chambers said that he gave Hynde his blessing to record the album without him, citing his reluctance to record and Hynde's reluctance to compromise on songwriting and production.[2]


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[4]
Blender3.5/5 stars[5]
Entertainment WeeklyB[7]
PopMatters7/10 stars[10]
Robert Christgau(2-star Honorable Mention)(2-star Honorable Mention)[11]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[12]

The album so far has a score of 74 out of 100 from Metacritic based on "generally positive reviews".[3] Mojo gave the album four stars out of five and said that it was "looser and more organic, and a different sonic palette for Hynde."[3] Q also gave it four stars out of five and said, "It's Hynde who steals the show with her lip-curling vibrato, part Elvis, part Dusty, never more intoxicating than on the seductive 'Almost Perfect.'"[3] The Boston Globe gave it a positive review and said that the album "just might be [Hynde's] most congenial, and certainly rootsiest, collection yet."[14]

Other reviews are average or mixed: Under the Radar gave the album six stars out of ten and said it had "a few throwaway tunes", but that it was "probably the best Pretenders album since Get Close."[15] Uncut gave it three stars out of five and said that the album might be "a bargain... but the triumphs of yore tend to expose the new album's low-fi rockabilly and country strums."[3] The Observer also gave it three stars out of five and said that Chrissie Hynde was "reinvestigating her roots with some rockabilly and a Dylan vibe."[16] The Austin Chronicle, however, gave it two-and-a-half stars out of five and asked, "Why not take the five really good tracks... and offer a stellar EP for download?"[17]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Chrissie Hynde, except where noted.

1."Boots of Chinese Plastic"2:31
2."The Nothing Maker"3:58
3."Don't Lose Faith in Me"2:45
4."Don't Cut Your Hair"2:14
5."Love's a Mystery"3:03
6."The Last Ride"3:40
7."Almost Perfect"4:48
8."You Didn't Have To"3:09
9."Rosalee" (writer: Robert Kidney)4:14
10."Break Up the Concrete"2:39
11."One Thing Never Changed"3:46

UK and Brazilian versions track listing[edit]

Disc 1 – The Best of Pretenders[edit]

1."Talk of the Town"Hynde3:16
3."Back on the Chain Gang"Hynde3:53
4."Brass in Pocket"Hynde, James Honeyman-Scott3:04
5."Message of Love"Hynde3:28
6."Night in My Veins"Hynde, Tom Kelly, Billy Steinberg3:17
7."Don't Get Me Wrong"Hynde3:48
8."Middle of the Road"Hynde4:15
9."I'll Stand by You"Hynde, Kelly, Steinberg3:58
10."Stop Your Sobbing"Ray Davies2:37
11."Hymn to Her"Meg Keene4:32
14."Cuban Slide"Hynde4:33
15."My City Was Gone"Hynde4:27
16."Day After Day"Hynde, Scott4:03
17."I Go to Sleep"Davies2:57
18."Thin Line Between Love and Hate"Richard Poindexter, Robert Poindexter, Jackie Members3:41
19."Fools Must Die"Hynde, Adam Seymour2:36
20."Up the Neck"Hynde4:22
21."2000 Miles"Hynde3:40
22."Tattooed Love Boys"Hynde3:00

Disc 2 – Break Up the Concrete[edit]

1."Boots of Chinese Plastic"Hynde2:31
2."The Nothing Maker"Hynde3:58
3."Don't Lose Faith in Me"Hynde2:45
4."Don't Cut Your Hair"Hynde2:14
5."Love's a Mystery"Hynde3:03
6."The Last Ride"Hynde3:40
7."Almost Perfect"Hynde4:48
8."You Didn't Have To"Hynde3:09
9."Rosalee"Robert Kidney4:14
10."Break Up the Concrete"Hynde2:39
11."One Thing Never Changed"Hynde3:46



Break Up the Concrete debuted at number 32 on Billboard's album chart in the issue dated 25 October 2008 and it stayed on the chart for three weeks. The album was issued with a 'best of' in a double-disc edition in the UK and charted at number 35 on the UK Albums Chart.

Chart (2008) Peak
US Billboard 200 32
UK Albums Chart 35
US Digital Albums 18
US Alternative Albums 10
US Tastemaker Albums 7
US Top Rock Albums 12
US Independent Albums 2

In popular culture[edit]

"Boots of Chinese Plastic" was featured on the AMC television show Breaking Bad during Walt's "joyride" scene in episode 407, "Problem Dog".

"Break Up the Concrete" has been used in the FOX television show House M.D. during the first scene in episode 123, "5 to 9".


  1. ^ "NUVO News – Indianapolis, IN". Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  2. ^ "Pretenders drummer Martin Chambers on Chrissie Hynde, Live Aid and playing with a Beatle". Herefordshire Live.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Critic Reviews for Break Up The Concrete – Metacritic". Metacritic.
  4. ^ Allmusic review
  5. ^ Blender review Archived 7 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Billboard review". Archived from the original on 3 April 2009. Retrieved 2008-11-11.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  7. ^ "Break Up the Concrete -". Entertainment Weekly's
  8. ^ "The Pretenders: Break Up The Concrete".
  9. ^ "The Pretenders". Pitchfork.
  10. ^ "The Pretenders: Break Up the Concrete". Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  11. ^ "Robert Christgau: CG: pretenders".
  12. ^ "Rolling Stone review". Archived from the original on 2 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-14.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  13. ^ "The Pretenders, 'Break Up the Concrete' (Shangri-La)". Spin.
  14. ^ "Hynde gets to the roots".
  15. ^ "Break Up The Concrete".
  16. ^ "CD: Pop review: The Pretenders, Best/Break Up the Concrete". the Guardian.
  17. ^ "Review: The Pretenders – Music – The Austin Chronicle".

External links[edit]