The Pretenders had released four albums by the time their first compilation, Singles, hit the shelves in 1987, and it’s a testament to their unique and enduring spin on classic rock. Chrissie Hynde brought a feminine mystique to the classic cock rock sound. From their self-titled debut through 1986’s Get Close, Hynde perfected her pop songwriting skills, married them to a tough-but-tender sound, and Singles is sixteen classics from the New Wave siren and her merry band of rockers.
Singles kicks off with their cover of the Kinks “Stop Your Sobbing,” and Hynde’s steely snarl smartly wraps around Ray Davies’ British Invasion gem. But Hynde’s own songs are quickly revealed as the equals of that smart assed opening shot. “Kid” is a glimpse at Hynde the heartbreak queen, “Talk of the Town” finds her love sick, and “Don’t Get Me Wrong” is pure sass. That doesn’t even cover the elegy of “Back on the Chain Gang,” biker chick tough “Middle of the Road,” or the iconic “Brass in Pocket.”
“Brass in Pocket”’s refrain of “I’m special/I gotta have some of your attention/Give it to me!” captures the magic and mystery of Hynde. She alternates between self-possession and demands for your attention, and she feels authentic while doing both. She’s a tough customer, but there’s a soft center to that leathery exterior. For all her heavy eyeliner and untouchable cool, Hynde’s still capable of expressing a deep vulnerability like on “I Go to Sleep.” It’s in expressing all of her moods and modes that the Singles emerges as a powerful testament to the allure of Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders.
DOWNLOAD: “Back on the Chain Gang,” “Brass in Pocket,” “I Got You Babe”