Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Went Back to Ohio but My City Was Gone........

Pick of the Week

“My City Was Gone” by The Pretenders (1982)

From the very cool “Learning to Crawl” album which sustains it’s poise to this day. Certianly my favourite Pretenders album.

My friend Scotty B. actually gave me the idea to revisit this song a few weeks ago when we talked about the economic conditions in Cleveland and Detroit. The social and economic implications ring clearly through here. 

From the loose, vibrant opening base riff to the guitar interplay of a very tight band this song rocks! The sultry, breathy Chrissie Hynde reminds us of how fragile an urban setting can be and this is so apropos with the economy in the U.S. right now. Her concerns are as valid now as they were then - Cleveland is in tough shape.

Chrissie Hynde is the picture of tenacity and an interesting story..........From Akron Ohio, and in classic style an art school graduate, she landed in the punk scene in London in 1976. )She was in the U.K. and France earlier trying to form a band to no avail She had worked a bit as a writer for the U.K. NME (New Music Express) but really was trying to form a band. She responded to an ad in NME to form a band with what would become the punk band 999, who I once had the pleasure to meet.  (I  had the keys to the games room and let them in to play Galaga – nice guys!)

Anyway, Chrissie did not succeed in that band and was asked by Malcolm McLaren, famous for his management of the New York Dolls and the Sex Pistols to leave the group just as it became ‘The Damned’ (produced by Nick Lowe).  One might give up, but Chrissie didn’t. 

Finally in 1978 with the help of Dave Hill of Real Records Chrissie put together “The Pretenders”. I think this was based on the song ‘The Great Pretender’ by the Platters – feeling kind of that way at this point I’m sure.

So the result was The Pretenders by the Pretenders (produced by Nick Lowe – he put out “Labour of Lust" with “Cruel to be Kind” the very next year – great album BTW)). A great first effort including a single called “Brass in Pocket” that finally made Chrissie famous!  

 Usually I do not like versions of songs for tributes, commemorations or ‘causes’ as the efforts can be less than stellar. The artists come together at the last minute, don’t practice and produce lacklustre results. There are exceptions though and a sweet surprise is a version of this song done for the “The Concert for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” in 1996. 

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