I listened to Chrissie’s new elpee this evening while making dinner. Distracted listening, but loud enough, and only a first time through, so there was no time for things to grow. My first reaction? I love her voice, her sultry melodicism, the way she speaks directly. What I missed here were the pounding drums. The Pretenders’ most of the time drummer, Martin Chambers, was a monster of drum aggression. Hitting the skins hard. They were a band propelled by the rhythm section, which seemed to skew every lyrical instinct Hynde and guitarist James Honeyman-Scott had. The Pretenders worked best because these giant musical personalities blended in ways that created unimaginable swing and melodic tension. Everything wasn’t in its exact place, but yet it seemed to be perfect.
I also missed Honeyman-Scott’s vibrant up front guitar. Bjorn and Hynde worked out lovely pop rock arrangements on these songs, but except on the tune Neil Young plays on the top comes up a little short. It’s nice, but I wondered if Chrissie might have had more fun in the studio with Hellacopters, instead of the mild and mellow and nice Bjorn. I suspect she might have. After all, she wrote Tattooed Love Boys. Could be her next elpee. She wouldn’t even have to leave Stockholm.
So, maybe you’re getting the idea that I’m a little disappointed with this record. Maybe. But before I had a chance to listen again I came across these trailers for the album. They’re short, they feature Chrissie Hynde talking about the process, and they sell me. On her, on the album. Not completely on the music, yet, but as I relisten I’m getting into it more.
There aren’t many old rockers (CH is five years older than me) making real new records of rock music. That doesn’t grant Chrissie a pass, but it puts into perspective the challenge. Rather than play more tunes tonight, let’s see and listen to some of the trailers. Winning stuff, as far as I’m concerned.
Okay, I’m up in the air about how these tunes are going to last in my music masher. But I posted these promotional pieces because they do a great job of selling the process and the sound. Way better than my first listen to the elpee did.
Which got me wondering. Has any post 60s rocker made a real album of new songs that came close to rivaling their past performance? I love that Chrissie has the ambition and the gall to go for it.
I just wish she’d demanded more guitars and bigger drums. Hmmm, I guess I wish she’d commanded the dead and distracted original Pretenders.