On "Brass in Pocket," one of the pretenders earliest singles-and their first to chart in the U.S., scoring #14 in Billboard-Chrissie Hynde sings, "I'm special, so special, I gotta have some of your attention, give it to me." Formed in London in '78 with Hynde, James Honeyman Scott, Martin Chambers, and Pete Farndon, the band received massive attention for that hit and other stellar songs from their 1980 self-titled debut album. Via impeccable musicianship and Hynde's charismatic persona-equal parts cool swagger, tough-but vulnerable lyrics and vocals, and idiosyncratic rhythm guitar-the Pretenders reinvented the concept of a woman in rock 'n' roll and became one of the most popular and distinctive acts in the world. Chrissie Hynde's singular presence has never ceased to build on their artistic legacy, chronicled now for the first time in Pirate Radio. Rhino. 2006.
Holding the Pretenders' "i"Pirate Radio box set in your hand, you may be tempted to ask: What took you so long? Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005, the Pretenders' impact on popular music goes without saying, and for a quarter century Chrissie Hynde has remained one of the smartest, sassiest, sexiest, and shaggiest women in rock. So this in-depth collection seems, if not overdue, at least a long time in coming.
At 81 tracks, Pirate Radio will satisfy die-hard fans with more fully remastered big hits and deep cuts than the earlier Singles and Greatest Hits compilations, as well as some previously unreleased gems--covers of "Angel of the Morning" and Warren Zevon's "Reconsider Me" are both standouts. The career-spanning live DVD is also a treat, with many performances featuring the original lineup. Add in a 60-page booklet jammed with chronological liner notes and reflections from band members, and you've got a powerful package. What's striking is how coherent this set sounds throughout all four discs, largely due to Hynde's unmistakable voice: From the punk swagger of their immortal 1979 debut to the reggae-informed sounds of 2003's Loose Screw, and after more personnel changes than Spinal Tap's percussion section, it all sounds like no one other than the Pretenders. "i"--Ben Heege