Pretenders (album)
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Pretenders Album

Pretenders album.jpg
Studio album by
Released11 January 1980 (1980-01-11)
StudioWessex Studios, London and Air Studios, London
GenrePop rock, new wave, punk rock
LabelReal (UK), Sire (US)
ProducerChris Thomas, except "Stop Your Sobbing" produced by Nick Lowe
The Pretenders chronology
Extended Play
Singles from Pretenders
  1. "Stop Your Sobbing"
    Released: January 1979
  2. "Kid"
    Released: June 1979
  3. "Brass In Pocket"
    Released: November 1979

Pretenders is the debut studio album by British-American band The Pretenders, released on 7 January 1980 under Real Records in the UK, and 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 was "not going anywhere".[11]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 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. In 2012, Slant Magazine listed the album at #64 on its "Best Albums of the 1980s".[12]

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.

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 unauthorized, heavy limiting supposedly applied after engineer Steve Hoffman's digital master was created and approved for CD manufacturing. The song "The Phone Call" is missing some of the telephone effects on this release because the effects were "flown in" after the master was completed for the song and, as a result, weren't on the original master tape.[13][14] There were no bonus tracks included.

A shortened version of "Tequila" would be performed nearly 15 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.

A cover version of "Brass in Pocket" and the master version of "Precious" are available as downloadable content for Rock Band.

Track listing

All songs written by Chrissie Hynde except where noted.

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

Song notes

  • "This is one of the most astonishing debut albums in the history of music," enthused author Michael Chabon. "On songs like 'Tattooed Love Boys', you're wondering, Who is Chrissie singing about when she says, 'I shot my mouth off and you showed me what that hole was for?' That was just one of those obsessive-listening records for me."[15] "Tattooed Love Boys" is a playable track in the PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 video game Guitar Hero II. Its guitar solo is a homage to James Honeyman-Scott's heroes. "I liked the guitar solo in 'Tattooed Love Boys'," Hynde recalled. "I love Jimmy Scott's playing."[16]
  • "Space Invader" is an instrumental containing sound effects from the video game Space Invaders. It also appeared in the hit television series The Sopranos.
  • "Private Life" is featured in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories on fictional radio station Emotion 98.3. It was covered by Grace Jones, on her album Warm Leatherette.
  • "Mystery Achievement" is featured in the closing montage in the final episode of the second season of the HBO show The Deuce, season 2, episode 9, "Inside the Pretend".


The Pretenders

Additional musicians

  • Fred Berk - bass guitar on CD2, track 3
  • Geoff Bryant - French horn
  • Nick Lowe - production on CD1, track 7
  • Henry Lowther - trumpet
  • Gerry Mackelduff - drums on CD1, track 7 and CD2, tracks 4, 5, 7, 9, 10
  • Chris Mercer - saxophone
  • Nigel Pegrum - drums on CD2, track 3
  • Chris Thomas - keyboards, sound effects, production
  • Jim Wilson - trumpet


  • Bill Price - engineer
  • Kevin Hughes - design
  • Chalkie Davies - front cover photography


Weekly charts

Chart (1980) Peak
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[17] 14
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[18] 2
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[19] 24
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[20] 2
UK Albums Chart[21] 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[]


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Netherlands (NVPI)[22] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[23] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[24] Platinum 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Pretenders - Pretenders". AllMusic. Retrieved 2006.
  2. ^ Caligiuri, Jim (15 December 2006). "Pretenders, Pretenders II". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2006.
  3. ^ Lim, Dennis. "Pretenders: Pretenders / Pretenders II". Blender. Archived from the original on 19 October 2006. Retrieved 2013.
  4. ^ Kot, Greg (12 August 1990). "The Best Of The Pretenders". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2013.
  5. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  6. ^ Scoppa, Bud (11 November 2004). "The Pretenders : Pretenders". Rolling Stone (961): 113. Archived from the original on 7 February 2008. Retrieved 2009.
  7. ^ Considine, J. D.; Skanse, Richard (2004). "The Pretenders". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 653-54. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  8. ^ Dolan, Jon (November 2006). "Reissues". Spin. 22 (11): 102. Retrieved 2017.
  9. ^ Weisband, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide (1st ed.). Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  10. ^ Christgau, Robert (25 February 1980). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2015.
  11. ^ "First Steps: Pretenders 'Pretenders'". Vivascene. 5 December 2014. Retrieved 2015.
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Pretenders S/T SACD coming from MoFi", Steve Hoffman Music Forums, post #11385152, 15 November 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  14. ^ "Pretenders S/T SACD coming from MoFi", Steve Hoffman Music Forums, post #11385207, 15 November 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  15. ^ Daly, Joe (May 2015). "Michael Chabon's 10 life-changing pieces of vinyl". Classic Rock #209. p. unnumbered.
  16. ^ Select, July 1990
  17. ^ " - The Pretenders - Pretenders" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  18. ^ " - The Pretenders - Pretenders". Hung Medien. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  19. ^ " - The Pretenders - Pretenders". Hung Medien. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  20. ^ " - The Pretenders - Pretenders". Hung Medien. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  21. ^ "Number 1 Albums - 1980s". The Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 2011.
  22. ^ "Dutch album certifications - The Pretenders - Pretenders" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved 2018.Enter Pretenders in the "Artiest of titel" box.
  23. ^ "British album certifications - The Pretenders - Pretenders". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2018.Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Pretenders in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  24. ^ "American album certifications - The Pretenders - Pretenders". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2018.If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.

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