The Pretenders – Get Close (1986): Review

getclose

Produced by Bob Clearmountain, Jimmy Iovine and Steve Lillywhite
Label – Sire/WEA

Oh, how the joys of motherhood quell the punk temptress. The much maligned fourth original album from The Pretenders was released amidst the revolving doors of musicians walking in and out, a verbal spat between original drummer Martin Chambers and Chrissie Hynde, and the questionable decision to dispense with Chris Thomas’s successful production efforts. Hynde chose king of rock mainstream knob twiddler, Bob Clearmountain, who had recently produced her new beau, Jim Kerr of Simple Minds. In light of the tragedies leading up to 1984’s “Learning To Crawl”, the album was well received both critically and commercially (particularly in the States). Guitarist Robbie McIntosh said that Hynde was at this time heavily influenced by pop artists such as Prince and Madonna, and this may have led to her decision to cull half of her band in order to pursue a new sound. The sacking of Chambers was particularly controversial in view of the fact that Hynde had booked studio time and failed to tell the unfortunate drummer of her plans. It would take years to heal the rift. The only constant throughout the album is Hynde and McIntosh, although the cover portrays a four piece, completed by T.M Stevens(bass) and former Haircut 100 drummer, Blair Cunningham.

To be fair, there’s some really strong pop/rock material here, but it’s a dis-jointed effort spoiled by Chrissie’s dalliance with funk which sounds like unfamiliar, awkward territory and Bob Clearmountain’s lack of understanding that rhythms and bass need to be more upfront in order for the song to groove. “Don’t Get Me Wrong” is perfect up-beat pop, with Chrissie full of love as she sings “I’m thinking about the fireworks, that go off when you smile”. “My Baby” shows her coy, esteem questioning side and is typically endearing. In addition the beautifully understated “Hymn To Her”, written by her school friend Meg Keene, deservedly a hit in the U.K, and yet bizarrely never released in North America. The moody “Chill Factor” and a fair cover of the Hendrix standard “Room Full Of Mirrors” completes the positives. The lumpen “How Much Did You Get For Your Soul ?” which covers sell out pop stars, and the even more turgid “Dance” must surely be a hard listen for the biggest Pretenders fans.

Unfairly criticized at the time, “Get Close” may be a step down from The Pretenders first 3 albums, but there’s still an engaging heart of quality songs, and it should never be over looked.

7/10

Track Listing
“My Baby” – 4:07
“When I Change My Life” – 3:38
“Light of the Moon” – 3:57
“Dance!” – 6:46
“Tradition of Love” – 5:27
“Don’t Get Me Wrong” – 3:46
“I Remember You” – 2:38
“How Much Did You Get for Your Soul?” – 3:48
“Chill Factor” – 3:27
“Hymn to Her” (Meg Keene) – 4:58
“Room Full of Mirrors” – 4.41

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2 responses to “The Pretenders – Get Close (1986): Review

  1. I haven’t heard beyond the first album yet (but it was a gem!) – interesting to read about these albums that weren’t well received at the time but are better than their reputation might indicate

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