A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the Pretenders' fabulous, groundbreaking first record has some tough, slightly violent lyrics and some overtly sexual lines, including a couple that came across as pretty shocking in 1980; for example: "I shot my mouth off, and he showed me what that hole was for" ("Tattooed Love Boys"). It's also one of the strongest rock 'n' roll debuts of all time, by a woman-led band, with original songs, powerful imagery and Chrissie Hynde's singular clear and sultry voice. Unfortunately, two of the bandmembers in the band's first incarnation -- bassist Pete Farndon and guitarist James Honeyman-Scott -- struggled with drug addiction. Farndon was fired early on, and Honeyman-Scott died of a heroin overdose after their second album's release. However, Hynde has continued to use the band name with different configurations of musicians and remains a strong female voice in rock.
What's the story?
Pretenders leader Chrissie Hynde moved from her hometown of Akron, OH, to London in the 1970s, and in the early days of punk formed The Pretenders with guitarist James Honeyman-Scott, bassist Pete Farndon, and drummer Martin Chambers. Hynde's superb voice and strong songs were supported by the unique sounds created by her bandmates and producer Chris Thomas; the Pretenders fused new wave pop with classic rock for a unique and accessible sound. The group's first album, PRETENDERS, was a smash, rising to No. 9 on Billboard's album chart.
Is it any good?
The Pretenders' eponymous first album endures as one of the most exciting, hard-rocking, original debut albums in rock 'n' roll. The guitars and rhythms have a unique quality that's still easily identifiable, and Chrissie Hynde was, and is, a very talented singer. Almost any song on the album could have been a hit single -- they're all so catchy and cool -- but "Brass in Pocket" was the biggest hit.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what made Chrissie Hynde different from other female singers of the '80s, or any time.
Pretenders has kind of a tough attitude, but not an angry one. Is this album "punk"?
What attitude does "Up the Neck" take toward the characters in this song, which blurs the line between desire and violence?
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