Archive for Pretenders

On: Dealing With Other People.

Posted in Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2010 by thenewserials
People Suck

The Truth is usually written in black and white

To anyone who knows me its no surprise when I say: “I don’t like other people” Hell, I don’t even like myself that much. That’s not to say I hate everyone, it just means that when confronted with new people its more often an experience that doesn’t lead to any lasting (good) impressions.

In my head I chalk this up to being because ‘other people’ are unreliable and uninteresting but, the other part of my mind likes to be a little more reasonable and accepts that maybe the problem lies within myself somewhat.

The first issue is that I missed the pop culture boat. When I was younger I just didn’t care about listening to popular music or anything. I spent the week in the city with my mother and went to school (which ultimately resulted in watching 90’s sitcoms and PBS) and the weekends in a more suburban area relaxing (which consisted of mostly talking and playing games). What was hot on the charts didn’t really come up unless it was some sort of sweeping phenomenon like Michael Jackson. So when I entered middle school and high school I was behind on the Jonses.

The Second was that I had no interest in catching up. By the time I was high school people were established in their artist and 99% of them consisted of what was on the radio at the time. It wasn’t until my second year of high school til’ I discovered the Pretenders and totally immersed myself with their music. In the four years of high school I caught myself up on some near 30 years of music, I didn’t have time to get into the ludicrous reaggeton and rap crazes. This of course made me the odd fellow in school, not to mention my homosexuality (which became the craze at some point but, even then I wasn’t very interested in other people), the odd fellows in the school still weren’t my friends.

Ultimately I didn’t care anymore, I had been alienated from people my age over what interested me, alienated from the Gay community cause I didn’t share anything in common with the general community and the same for the Black community. My life as a recluse really was solidified.

When I went to college I didn’t think it would be more interesting, and it wasn’t. I didn’t need to interact with anyone anymore and there as no one to interact with anyway. My specific taste in music and culture still was putting me at odds with people. Except this time people were more understanding about it. instead of flat out rejection I got a series of slow rejection, whether it was people pitying me or just generally losing interest in trying to figure out my habits over time I don’t know but, the general pattern was meeting someone who was interested in me in then in 6 weeks tapering off into barely speaking.

So at this point in life, I’ve given up on other people, if I meet someone interesting I’m jaded enough  to know that patterns exist for reasons. The Human race is a slave to its previous actions, they’ll never move away from the things they’ve done because its a scary thing and with the world they’ve created there’s good reason to fear a lot of things.

 

Twitter.com/KeithBCovingon

Facebook.com/Raganork8

On: Long Periods Without Writing

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2010 by thenewserials

You would think that having two personalities in my mind would make me more prolific with writing that’s not the case however. For weeks at a time (sometimes months) I will have nothing of any interest to say about anything. Sure something will happen in that time but, no one really comments on this blog anyway so there’s no reason to share with the world if the world isn’t looking.

Don’t take that as a guilt trip, it’s simple logic.

However on occasion I will think of something I think is important enough to share with the people who do come across my blog, and then I blog. My last blog post are some of the easiest to put down. I love music so sharing my experience with new and/or live music is something that comes easily.

What doesn’t come easily is a way to make the banal routines of my life come alive for you all in this blog.   Writing isn’t a challenge per se but more of a required discipline that I  haven’t totally gotten down. It comes to me in waves, sometimes as small as a tide and sometimes as large as a tsunami.

This doesn’t only apply to my blog  but, also to writing a book or short story, I have to be in a very specific mood in order to get anything down. And even then I tend not to write a whole lot in one day, sometimes I’ll pull our a page or two and be content with that because when the feeling goes…it’s gone.

The frightening thing about writing a blog is that everyone who reads it seems to expect some sort of consistency, I have friends who blog once a month on the same day every month, or vow to blog twice a week or some schedule but, I’m not able to stick to that sort of thing. As soon as writing becomes a ‘job’ so to speak, where I have to worry about getting it down in a certain amount of time or fear the deadline, I lose a boatload of interest.

I know, that’s real life, right? Sure it is and I didn’t say I wasn’t able to do it but, I just said it’s no longer as fun for me. I like to take my time and even be lazy. I spend every waking minute thinking about writing, how I want something to look and how I want it to be presented on the page and whatnot and when I get to the execution I get there.

This blog is more of a twisted therapeutic sort of engine for me to work with, I get to write whenever I want to and share it out to the world. Sure the lack of comments and viewers sometime annoy me but, that’s not really the big issue. The issue is filtering through the packing peanuts in my mind to find the really fragile things and bringing them into some sort of like in reality.

With two people in my mind constantly trying to find a way to appease each other there’s often a lot of interesting stuff that gets cut on the editing room floor. I just can’t express EVERYTHING sometimes, mostly because I think a lot of what I say is common sense, but I’m not a common guy and this isn’t a common world and so maybe I ought to consider getting over my personal misgivings with my writing and just put it out there.

I often have this vendetta against artist, like painters and sculptures and cartoonist; maybe not a vendetta but a jealousy because for them the final product of the art is there and can be beheld with the eye. For me I have to then embark on a new journey to get people to read what has taken me a year to write and thats the hardest part of all.

You would think that people would be jumping for joy over the fantastic like: Dreams and the damaged infrastructure in the mind of a semi-psychotic but, people really aren’t. Maybe they think it’s silly or overly-dramatic but, no one cares that much and in some degrees neither do I. I’m still entertained by very simple things like Soap Operas. I watch All My Children everyday as if it were something that will feed my starving stomach. It’s one of the few things that both my personalities will agree to doing but, who wants to sit here and read about how much I dislike Ryan Lavery or think Marissa Tasker needs to buy a clue.

Maybe someone, I guess but, often I don’t feel like it’s a worthy subject to start ranting about in a blog.

I guess part of me still feels like I’ve stumbled into this writing thing, Like maybe I don’t deserve to even be doing it. I love it though, I just like taking my time as well, maybe if i had an actual job writing I would think differently about it but, as of now I don’t. And even when I worked for my school magazine I waited til submission day to do something and it was still pretty good.

What I need is for someone to take me seriously, seriously enough so that we can work together. I work fine alone but, I think ultimately I feel comfortable if I have someone to bounce ideas off of and craft together with. I’ve been alone all my life so maybe that’s why.

I should write a comic book and work with an artist (maybe that would ease some of the jealousy) and put it out one day. That sounds like it could be a barrel of monkeys!

Now let’s see if anyone’s interested…

Twitter.com/KeithBCovington

Facebook.com/raganork8

Review: Fidelity! (Live)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2010 by thenewserials

Love, Loss and Fidelity!

How does one begin something like this? A review of this magnitude ought to be taught as a college seminar. That’s not some overzealous view of my writing skills but, rather an understatement of what happens when two musical geniuses get lemons and make lemonade.

Fidelity!(Available August 24th)  is the newest project from Chrissie Hynde, this time she shares the stage with Welsh born singer/song writer JP Jones, along with a band, filled with talented Musicians, the Fairground Boys. The result is: Jp,Chrissie and the Fairground Boys.

Make no assumptions about this band and about this album. You may think you know Chrissie Hynde and some of you may think you know JP Jones but, this album will send you for a loop from it’s subject matter to its execution.

Monday night  I had the chance to see Jp, Chrissie and the Fairground Boy(s) at the Rockwood music Hall in NYC. To say the show was intimate would be a drastic understatement. Sitting less than 5 feet from Chrissie Hynde, JP Jones and their guitarist Patrick Murdoch, I found myself apart of the action going on onstage.

In a fine mood the three came out ready to play the ENTIRE album of Fidelity (previous shows had only showcased a maximum of 7 songs) JP Jones explained that this would be the first time they played some of these songs live at all and asked for our pardon in advance.

He wouldn’t need it.

Starting with their single “If You Let me” (Released August 10th) the band began to rock the acoustic set. Its in this song that the listener realizes that this isn’t just an album. This isn’t someone putting out music simply because they want to make money or because they like to. This is a story of why growing up is a hard thing to do sometimes.

The lyrics say: “I’m going to on this world/I’m going to make you love me/if you let me/if you let me/if you let me” sung in tandem it shows the like mind of the two songwriters. Every song is just as much felt by JP as it is Chrissie. There aren’t any petty disagreements or empathy for the other. On Fidelity! Jp and Chrissie are one and the same.

The two of them chatted with the audience adding a great deal of humor to the rather humorless chunk of music.

The set of live songs were all gorgeous and painfully honest. The whole of Fidelity! being a story in which two people are forced to understand that they cannot be together because of the age difference between them. The woman is painted as “Past her prime” (a line which sparked some surprised audience reaction and “she wrote it!” as a response from JP Jones) and the man described as a “perfect lover but, he’s only half my age”.

The entire album is of this sort of thing, the realization that it isn’t going to work between this two characters (are they Hynde and Jones?…probably) but, what sets this apart from a normal ‘I wish I could have you but, I can’t’ story is that the two decide to take their love in a different direction.

The word “Son” and “Lover” comes up so much, it’s PAINFULLY clear that they came
to a choice when they said “Hey we can’t be lovers, let me take you under my wing son”

In words like my feeble minded vernacular it sounds somewhat perverse but, when you hear this album, start to finish and hear Hynde’s cooing versus JP ranting, you’ll know.

While JP Jones seems still somewhat embarrassed to admit that this is of any truth to his life Hynde seemed casually open about the failed relationship. Whilst introducing a song named “Never Drink Again” (A quote Hynde has used before) Hynde explained the original name of the song was going to be: “Never drink again, until the pub opens up” a sentiment apparently shared by the other two and much of the audience.

It was then that Hynde does what she does. There aren’t any words to describe it, it’s either some sort of fearless truth and insight of herself or some kind of over-the-top form of bullshit but, Hynde says that she’s stopped drinking because when she does she becomes a “Cunt”.

At the sheer utterance of the ‘C’ word the entire audience gasped and moaned in disapproval but, Hynde got defensive of the choice of words. “No it’s true, he knows it. When I drink I go to the dark side”

It’s that kind of honesty (?) that fills the album, listeners will be treated to an unabashed version of their view on this tragic situation and the audience can decide if their even doing the write thing. Sure the two of  them can write a song but, what will this love affair yield at the very end? Is Fidelity! the ultimate love story or a musical tribute to the mistakes we make when we fall in love and can’t climb our way out?

Whatever it is, Rockwood Musical hall was able to get a glimpse of it. Filled with humor, fun and the passionately played out lyrics, it was hard not to get totally sucked into Fidelity!’s world. A wave of uneasy apprehension filled the room as the words: “I wish I could have met you in a former life, or seen you in a future time” Heartbreak plainly laid onto our laps with no real solution in sight.

Fidelity! is everything and nothing at the same time. Its what you WANT from an artist and yet it has no solution to its story, we’re told from the first lyric how this game is going to be played before our eyes and in the very end we still see they had not lied.

The concept of their love not being able to grow the way they want is complicated but, they treat it as a simple inconvenience. The human mind will baffle at it and enjoyed being toyed with.

Fidelity! is a complicated, perplexing view of simplicity and common sense.

As harsh as an acid and soothing as a base.

Tuesday August 10th New York City, SoHo.

After the events at the Rockwood musical hall the night before, I couldn’t pass up the chance to see the band again at the Apple store in SoHo. A free event that was set up for the store.

There’s not much to say here, they did 5 planned songs and revealed that management or Apple or some other power that be wouldn’t be allowing them to do anymore. But after some coaxing from the audience they unveiled an even NEWER song in a catalogue of new songs. Hynde explained the song is going to be released as a Christmas EP and the band had to take some time to remember how to play it but, when it was all over, the song was a beautiful christmas ballad.

Restricted by time and the store the SoHo appearance wasn’t the same glimpse into life ala Jones/Hynde but, a showcase of good songs.

I shouldn’t have to type this but, if you aren’t convinced that you should rush out and find the nearest performance by Jp/Chrissie and the Fairground Boys at this point of the review then simply don’t go. You’re not alive probably.

Fidelity! is NOT a Pretenders album and one shouldn’t convince themselves that the band will play Pretenders songs or have any Pretenders sentiments whatever. This is all new, and as real as it gets. Hynde hasn’t ever really let her audience down and Fidelity! is among the best music she’s ever put out.

Walk don’t run.

The Setlist for August 9th was:

If You Let Me

Fairground Luck

Meanwhile

Your Fairground

Leave Me If You Must

Misty Valleys

Australia

Never Drink Again

Skinny Love (not performed)

You’re The One (not on the album)

Perfect Lover

Fidelity

Portobello Road

Murder in My Heart

an encore included

If You Were My Age.

The Setlist for August 10th was:

If You Let Me

Fairground Luck

Never Drink Again

You’re The One

Your Fairground

An Encore included:

It Must Be Christmas

JP. Chrissie and the Fairground Boys will be back in NYC on September 25th 2010 at Irving Plaza. Tickets on sale now

Still Around and a round and a round and…

Posted in Bored Stuff with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2009 by thenewserials

Sitting in this room right now, I’m very bored, it’s only 8:00 a.m on the dot.

I have a final to do today and I’m not in the mood.

O.k.

So there are three guys I really like and I want to date all three of them but, there are provisions to each of them.

The first is the one I like the most I think but, I don’t want to further over-complicate things with him. I mean it’d be nice to re-enter a relationship but, it wasn’t working when it ended and in doing this I could putting a nail in the coffin for any future prospect of being friends or getting along.

The Second is someone else I really like but, I fear a relationship with him. I know that if anything were going to wrong it could really implode anything good we’ve ever had going.

The third is just some guy I have a crush on. He’s smart, funny and very good looking, he’d be the most different person I’ve dated but, I don’t think he’s interested and if he is then he’s already involved with something or someone.

So I don’t know what to do, at this time I want the third guy the most because there’s less danger there and honestly he’s just so damned cute I just want to pinch him.

I’m just not the dating type, I’m interested in guys but, I’m not good at being proactive with them and when I am I get rejected 90% of the time. It’s always the right guy but, ALWAYS the wrong time. I really don’t want to spend months dating and going through rejection there’s honestly not enough going on in my life to let something like that in.

I wish I was drop dead gorgeous, I wouldn’t have this problem and I could move on but, Alas I’m not so that’s a dead dream.

The other thing that really frustrates me is that NO one I ever am attracted to ever makes the first move, it seems that I’m only attracted to guys who are nervous and shy or not interested in me. This is obnoxious to a high degree, I wish ONCE a guy I like would just say “hey lets go out on a date” Do you know what I would do? A back flip, I’d do a back flip, I can’t even touch my own toes but, if that happened I would do a back flip.

The other two guys are good guys but, one is just going on with his life without me and the other is…a case study. There’s so much right and wrong with him. He’s got a lot of good qualities but, he offers no kind of excitement whatsoever. Whereas the other guy I could have a banal conversation with but, it would become something more interesting through time but, with this guy the conversation will depend solely on me the entire time and it’ll go nowhere because nothing is going on with him and thusly he doesn’t have anything to really say.

It’s days like that where I miss my first BF, not that he was a good person or anything but, he was always interesting and knew what to say to make me excited and interested.

Its all a bit disheartening. I’m always the one in control, I’m the one people go to to make the plans to get everything going and that plays out in everything I do, so I hold on to this dream that one day I’ll have the relief of having someone come over and take control if only for a moment and just say “Hey, Let’s do this I like you”, maybe I’m intimidating, which won’t make sense, the only people I can intimidate are people who are already “in”.

Maybe soon who knows what’ll happen in the future, for now I’ll have to take it one day at a time and just get through these finals so that I can even get a grade for this semester, I really shouldn’t have waited this long to do them and now I’m on a mad dash to complete 4 papers in 25 hours.

If only this third guy would come through!

Enough of that; there were a few things I wanted to get across in this post, seeing that I don’t have the discipline to write once a week you may not see another post for a year!

– Terminator Salvation: Good movie, not perfect, not T2 but, then again what is? The first half wasn’t bad, it was introductory, I know we know terminator but, this is the first time being in the future after Judgement day, somethings have to be explained. The middle was good and the end was great, at moments there I thought iI was watching a Cameron film. Some noteworthy mentions include: Sam Worthington’s acting he’s good, he’s very good, he’s the movie, he is the strength of all the scenes he’s in. Sam Worthington’s Face, what can I say, watching him on screen was helped by his cute face. Christrian Bale, He does it again, he plays this incarnation of John in a different way but, it makes sense to the story and he makes a good hero. The Action, very good in a lot of ways the action in this movie was the opposite of Watchmen, it wasn’t superflous, it usually served the story and only one scene seemed Gratuitous and long. Arnold: The Cameo was better than I could have thought of. The Music: i liked it, and I don’t like Danny Elfman.

– The Pretenders, coming back to the U.S. late summer, Maybe a show in Central Park, *fingers crossed*

– 24, what a great season definately up there with seasons 1 and 5, can’t wait for them to start shooting in NYC for season 8!

– PS3, I like my PS#, I like the features I like Killzone 2, I’m glad I got it!

The Pretenders At the Roseland Ballroom

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2009 by thenewserials

Pretenders

Roseland Ballroom

01/30/09

The Pretenders continued their “Break Up the Concrete” tour on their second stop in N.Y.C. at the Roseland Ballroom and like every show they didn’t disappoint.

The show began with an opening band named “American Bang” and whomever decided to skip the opening act just to see the Pretenders made a grave mistake. They were rockin’ and strutting like any good rocker could. They proved that classic rock and roll is not the only in the past.

“I just met Chrissie last night…” The lead singer commented during a small break in songs. “…you guys aren’t the only one”.

After their short; but, explosive set the Pretenders took stage and command. Starting out with “Boots of Chinese Plastic” The Band proved once (and hopefully for all) that they are not some wash-up 80’s band fighting for relevance. As Hynde strutted on stage throughout a great many guitar changes between her and lead guitarist James Walbourne, she seemed in great spirits. The Second song “Don’t Cut Your Hair” was dedicated to all the “Guys in the audience” and it blasted off with the same vigor and mature attitude as “Boots Of Chinese Plastic”.

“It’s always great to be in NYC” Hynde said with a large smile. “…this is the ‘Talk of the Town'”

and the band launched into the Pretenders II classic. “Message of Love”, “Don’t Lose Faith in Me” and “Love’s a Mystery” followed with great fanfare, aptly underscored by Eric Heywood’s steel guitar work.

“Back on The Chain Gang” only suffered from a severe case of nostalgia, clearly showing off Hynde’s mastery of writing and the band’s mastery of their art.

“It’s good to see you again!” Hynde exclaimed to the front row, and to my surprise she was actually speaking to me, she smiled and then went on. “This is a song by an amazing Song writer from Ohio” and the band promptly rocked out to the Robert Kidney tune “Rosalee”.

Here’s where James Walbourne shows off his chops, ripping a solo to shreds and making it seem easy at the same time. The band seemed comfortable as always playing the song, laughing and enjoying themselves as much as we were enjoying them.

“The Last Ride”, another tune from the new album followed and while it was slower and quieter it was nontheless just as masterful as anything else and easily one of the best written songs on the album.

To the joy of many of the old fans who came for a bout of nostalgia and familiarity “Stop Your Sobbing” “Day After Day” and “Don’t Get Me Wrong” came with strong abusiveness from the band. Suddenly The Pretenders seemed to be getting rough with their playing and even the sweet songs were beginning to feel more rock, almost to the point where one didn’t know what was going to come next.

The first surprise of the night came in the song “Tequila” that many older fans will know. First appearing on an album in 1994’s “Learning to Crawl” “Tequila” is one of the first songs Hynde had played with late Bass Guitarist Pete Farndon. The song was then recorded with nearly every line-up of the band from there on. The song came in with a great deal of confusion to most of the people at the Roseland Ballroom; but, not without enjoyment. The slow verses are perfectly combined with the rough and tumble bridge “Miles baby, hundred highways and truck-stops I’ve used/cause baby hundred of cars have passed and refused!” For all those, big fans and smaller fans alike “Tequila” was a rare gem dug up and won’t be soon forgotten.

“Thumbelina” followed next and James Walbourne again got to show off just why Chrissie chose him as her new lead guitarist. He takes the old Robbie Macintosh solo and tears it a new hole, so to speak, with great skill and attitude.

“Brass in Pocket” came and went a great song; but, no where near the impact of any of the other songs. Most people come just for this one song and really miss the entire point of the shows.

The second surprise of the night came with “Bad Boys Get Spanked” the Pretenders II song had been performed on the last tour; but, for some reason it felt like the first time it was ever played last night. Martin Chambers finally blasted off into the stratosphere rocking the drums to the point that Chrissie seemed to be in the WAY of my viewing his amazing mastery of his instrument. To watch him is to watch the best of the best, do better than you could ever expect.

The THIRD surprise came with “Tattooed Love Boys.” Chrissie looked at the front row and said: “this one is for you three right there” and again I was shocked to see her referencing myself and two of my friends to my right. I was sure what to expect; but, the familiar three note lick that James Honeyman-Scott played thirty years ago, snapped me back. It had all the rough and tumble that one can recall. and the Audience was on its toes singing along with Hynde. “I went apewire, because I thought that I liked it/little teast; but, I didn’t mean it/ but you mess with the goods doll and you gotta pay…yeah!” Martin Chambers again showed that even though he’s 57 he’s still got the energy and wickedness of someone half his age. James Walbourne rocked the solo and before you knew it the fire on the stage reached a climax with those three ending words. “You…are…that!”

The band did one more song on the list the title track “Break Up The Concrete” Hynde and co. Easily demolished the song with her “dak dak dak daka daka” and the band pulsating Bo-Diddly beat.

The band came out for two encores The First featured the original Pretenders hit “Kid” and the second was “Precious” the hardest rocking song in show business. John McEnroe joined the band for “Precious”.

The Second Encore featured the punk classic “The Wait” which knocked the audience on the floor. and the last song of the night was the best surprise of all.

“Up The Neck” rounded out the show with such beauty and harshness, that it left everyone praying for one more song.

In the end the message is clear. Not only have the Pretenders still got it…They’ve never lost it.

Overdue Review: The Pretenders ‘Packed!’

Posted in Overdue Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2008 by thenewserials
The Pretenders 5th album in their legacy

The Pretenders 5th album in their legacy

In 1990 Chrissie Hynde returned to the studio to record her fifth Pretenders album: Packed! No longer backed with any of the former Pretenders from Martin Chambers to T.M. Stevens; Hynde settled for a series of talented session musicians to fill in the Pretenders name.

Packed! is probably the most ironic of the Pretenders album names; seemingly because the album isn’t packed with much. All in all Packed! is a heavy album that suddenly; before recording, got light.

Many will find this next statement wrong: Packed! is the best album (in intent) since Pretenders II; but, the worst in execution. I say that for a number of reasons. The first is that it sees Hynde out of the dreaded ‘1986 fatigue’ where everything became new wave/punk. She’s back in her element creating rock music not, immediately, influenced by anyone. The second is that the repertoire of songs on Packed! are the most diverse since Pretenders I, their first album, from dreamy ballads like “Let’s Make a Pact” to dark, unsentimental rockers like “Dowtown (Akron)” to groovy Reggae like “How Do I miss You” Packed! is packed with a lot of different ideas.

However Packed! is not without it’s fair share of problems. At best Packed! is fatigued and sad sounding, even when it’s supposed to be uplifting or badass. Hynde seems to be interested in what she’s performing; but, just not ready to perform it. Packed! sees Hynde a little less restricted as well on this album. One of the joys of Hynde is that she always seems to know when to give enough, never too much, never too little. There’s a restriction there that works in their favor. No matter what she does she always seems in control. On Packed! she lets herself go a little more; songs like “Millionaires” see Hynde belting on notes here and there and they don’t sound bad; but, for Pretenders followers it’s a bit of a surprise to see her do so much on a record; there’s works and fails in ways. It’s a nice new thing to revel over; but, the genius of control seems to be gone. Another ‘issue’ with Packed! is the sometimes lyrical value of it; For example “No Guarantee” has Hynde singing and rocking out; but, if one is prepared to say her writing is above par; then their willing to say they know what she’s talking about. Again it’s not bad; but, different and in a new direction.

The last two faults of Packed! are ones that would be corrected after the album with the live set The Isle of View and their next studio album Last of the Independents. The first is the session players: Billy Bremmer, Blair Cunningham and John Mckenzie appear of the album credits the most and they along with the other musicians are great players; but, they’re not a band. Bremmer adds some much needed continuity to a new band because he previously played on “Back on the Chain Gang” and “My City Was Gone” from the album Learning to Crawl; However, the band feels like session players playing for a talented artist. Nothing wrong with that; but, that’s not what a Pretenders album was. The other problem with the album is the Producer Mitchell Froom is probably a great producer; but, Packed! is not his best attempt. At times the songs seem lazy and he opted into the idea of using the airy echo sound that was dominant at the time for every song and it doesn’t suit the band well at times. Most of the time Packed! feels as if Hynde was performing it whilst half sleepy and in a daze.

Many Pretenders fans debate which is the least favorable album Get Close or Packed! and their really isn’t any answer to that question, Whereas Packed! was full of good ideas and lackluster production, Get Close was full of different Ideas and better (but not the best) production. It really comes down to how you view an album: on intent Packed! is the superior album; but, on execution Get Close proves to more formiddable.

All in all both albums are still better than most; and Hynde’s genius, even if slightly dimished, is still greater than the sum of her peers.

Packed! is an album that will have people thinking “What if?” What if the album was produced better; what would it sound like? Breifly we recieved a glimpse at this on the Isle of View where “Criminal” is performed acoustically and with such poetry and beauty that it solidifies that Packed! wasn’t just another album. Also years later Pirate Radio, the Pretenders box set, would contain an “alternate” version of Hold a Candle to This”; which would prove to be much better produced and sees Hynde with much more enthusiam and a few lyrical changes that better suit the song. Listening to that makes me really wonder if there’s a better produced version of Packed! somewhere, and if there is…

Are we ready for it?

Rating out of 10

8.3/10

Dual Review: The Pretenders: Break Up The Concrete/The Pretenders Live At The Highline Ballroom

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2008 by thenewserials

The Pretenders Deliver that Itch You Can’t Scratch

Artist: The Pretenders

Album: Break Up The Concrete

Company: Shangi-La Music

Website: http://www.ThePretenders.com

“We’ve got a new record out…” Hynde says while taking a quick survey of the packed crowd. “…and you know that means something because I don’t say that much. Frankly I’ve been goofing around lately”

Who knows if Hynde is serious is telling the truth about “goofing around”; but, you wouldn’t be able to tell when you listen to Break Up the Concrete as a whole. The album is, what is being called, ‘back to roots’ rock and roll, and there’s not much to disappoint here. Around six years from their last fully new release (Loose Screw; Artemis Records), excluding a four CD, one DVD box set, Two two CD reissues of older albums and another Two one CD reissues of older albums (quite a busy six years), Break Up the Concrete is everything Loose Screw was not. Loose Screw had a reggae vibe Concrete is rockabilly, Screw was overproduced, Concrete is under-produced, Screw used a lot of prerecorded sounds, Concrete is very straight forward.

Concrete delivers a very different punch than some of the other Pretenders albums. It’s first track and single  “Boots Of Chinese Plastic” opens the Pretenders season with a hard bang and will grab you at the throat;, Much like “Precious” did years ago on the band’s first Album. That doesn’t mean that Concrete is all Power Chords and Distortion, the album has it’s share of Ballads that range from the sarcastically familiar “You Didn’t Have To” to the odd; but, amazing “Almost Perfect” to the dream “Love’s a Mystery”. Anyone afraid of ballads is in for a surprise; the songs are taken with careful recklessness. Most of the songs; feel like their on the brink of going off the uninhibited edge; but, manage to keep their beautiful sounds while delivering a rock edge.

Concrete sees Hynde working with a relatively new bunch of faces. The most notable of them James Walbourne who replaces long time member and fan favorite Adam Seymour, also joining are Eric Heywood on Pedal Steel, the legendary Jim Keltner steps in for original drummer Martin Chambers and Nick Wilkinson (who has been touring with the band for a couple of years) gets his first album recording with the band. The new blood seems to have a good effect on Hynde; the new music is certainly is different from previous works (most so “Almost Perfect) and the band hits the new pavement hard and don’t relent. There are some things there that remind me of the “old” Pretenders music; “Don’t Lose Faith In Me” is a wonderful blend of 1999 Viva El Amor‘s “One More Time” and the rare masterpiece: “Happy Christmas”; and the delightfully over achieving “The Nothing Maker” is a watered down Version of Viva’s “Biker”. That being said Concrete is a fun album that deserves a few listens. Admittedly it doesn’t feel “right” at first; but, after time the genius in the songs begins to radiate.

That’s not to say there aren’t some parts of the album that don’t seem to hit the mark. “The Nothing Maker” is essentially a song about high moral codes which doesn’t inspire to be of high value. Lyrically Hynde “does nothing” here; and her usual masterful weaving of social problems and the effect on the, more than human soul seems to be missing here, replaced is a highly repetitious drawl. Hynde coos: “He makes nothing, he’s the Nothing Maker, he’s the maker of nothing, he’s the nothing Maker” and once you hear the chorus of the song you’ve got the jist of the song. The guy does nothing…over and over and over. There’s also a few song that seem like they dissipate as soon as you stop hearing it. “You Didn’t Have To”, “The Last Ride” and the beautifully written; but, somehow missed “One Thing Never Changed” fade in comparison to the other songs. They’re not bad; but, something about them doesn’t resonate after a listen.

All in all Concrete isn’t the best work by the band; but, that’s not an insult considering what they’ve achieved in twenty-eight years. The album is a great listen and it’s essential; the Pretenders are back and there’s no doubt that they’re going to continue rocking and showing that they truly one of the most enduring and skilled bands in history.

Grade: A-

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Venue: The Highline Ballroom

Artist: The Pretenders

Date: 10.7.08

Despite what you may have heard on the line; The Pretenders haven’t taken that long of a break from touring. Just over a year ago they toured to promote their wonderful Box Set Pirate Radio; doing a lot of the old rarer songs and giving flare to some of the more known songs. Since then the Band has put out a new album; dropped a member, replaced him and added a new instrument to their line-up: A Pedal Steel. Even the most hardened Pretenders fan felt a good deal of uncertainty in what to expect at the Highline Ballroom last night; their performance on the David Letterman show the night before and the Today Show earlier that morning was proof that they “ain’t dead yet”; but, was it proof that they still were a solid band?

Quickly let’s give thanks to the Staff at the Highline last night; they were gracious and extremely friendly; they made the night all the more enjoyable. Let’s also give thanks to RPX 101.9 for throwing the show and having some very friendly staff who provided us with T-shirts and an abundance of smiles. Lastly; but, not least let’s thank Mayor Bloomberg,  and the Parks Department of NYC for using part of the money raised in ticket sales and other things to plant trees all around the city.

Now for the show.

The band was uncharacteristically late; the show starts at 9 they were out at around 9:15-9:30. Not bad at all considering how long some other bands have fans wait. They came out in fine form looking good and smiling and quickly went into their first song: “Chinese Boots Of Plastic”. Instantly they sold the show. With that one song anyone who was wondering if they could still do it knew that they could…and did. The band is slightly different from their album credits; James Walbourne, Chrissie Hynde and Nick Wilkinson return on stage while original Drummer Martin Chambers re-joins the band on stage and a new Steel Pedalist joins the band (adding, no less, more manic and extreme edginess to most of the songs).

The band shot through the first song bursting out: “Every dog that lives it’s life on the chain, knows what it’s like waiting for nothing…and by the way you look fantastic in your boots of Chinese plastic” at the end of the song and sending the crowd into an uproar. The dog on the chain analogy is a good way to describe how the band felt last night. As if they were just about to snap of the chain and rip us to shreds. They rocked and they rocked hard.

Without pause they went into another song on the album: “Don’t Cut Your Hair” a quirky song that has Hynde showing off her bravado and strut through the lyrics of : “Don’t Cut it, Don’t Chop it, It’s like a bomb if you got it don’t drop it yeah! If you got a man go ahead and flaunt it, any guys lying if he says he doesn’t want it.”

The band proceeded to go into a classic “Talk of Town” nicely assimilated with the pedal steel. Today it still has that dreamy effect it had on many years ago in 1981. Some more classics and new songs followed including “Message of Love”, “Loves a Mystery” and “Back on the Chain Gang”; but, the show really came alive when the band went into a Robert Kidney original: “Rosalee”. Here’s where James Walbourne gives fans their first reason not to worry about his being in the band. Hynde’s outstanding voice tears Rosalee through a series of emotions while Wilkinson, and Chambers, give a rhythm section to die for; but, Walbourne rips a solo that is nothing short of phenomenal and reminiscent of Jeff Beck. The songs groovy stop-and-go feel makes it almost unpredictable and seemingly an adventure on it’s on. The Price of admission to the show was paid in full WITH collateral by the band; by, the end of “Rosalee”. the band rocked through some old Favorites; giving not only a new breath of life to them; but, seemingly doping them up on speed. “Day After Day” is not as I remember it on Pretenders II; it knocked me over and spun me around with that memorable guitar line ; drum progression and the unforgettable lyrics (Way up in the sky, over the city, where you sleep tonight, the lights outside your window blink ‘hotel, hotel, hotel, open the blind and dream in a moonbeam). “Brass in Pocket” came and went with much joy; (Hynde even letting me deliver the “Special” back-up line each time). The first part of the show ended with the title track “Break Up The Concrete” a fun Bo Diddly like song which insist we should “Shake it, break it, earthquake it…Break up the Concrete”.

The band quickly came back out for an encore that was essentially to die for. They delivered “Kid” from the first album, wonderfully; but, everyone who was at the show knows that this next song stole the show. “Thumbelina” from the album Learning to Crawl takes on a whole new idea when it’s played by the new band. James Walbourne DESTROYS the song with a great display skill, talent and reckless abandon. Hynde coos “Hush little baby, go to sleep, look out the window and count the sheep, that dot the hillsides in the fields of wheat, across America, as we cross Amer-RI-Ca. what’s important here today:the broken line on the highway!” while James Walbourne delivers a long, blistering solo that tore down the walls of the Ballroom. Anyone who didn’t feel “Thumbelina” might have the same effect as a nuclear bomb is without a pulse. I can’t stress this enough go see this band if ONLY for this song. That wasn’t the end though; with the Highline still electric and suffering from aftershocks of “Thumbelina” Hynde began to speak: “You know there’s been a sudden re-interest in punk rock…not that we give a fuck” and blasted into “The Wait.”. There aren’t really words to describe what happened during “The Wait”; but, if there’s a truth to the expression “Musical Orgasm” then the droves of people smoking afterwords had good reason.

The Pretenders are back and clearly without flaw. Martin Chambers after the show offered some insight to an actual tour. “Late January…I can’t wait”

And Neither can we.