The Pretenders to Unveil a 22-Disc Box Set

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

Lead by Chrissie Hynde, the Pretenders have been rocking for over three decades and have made their mark on popular music. As a part of the second British Invasion, the band joined the likes of the Clash, the Style Council, Split Enz and the Smiths in redefining music in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Pretenders’ self-titled debut took elements of punk and wave and put a classic rock spin on the music. With Hynde’s voice as the cornerstone, the album spawned such hits as “Kid” and “Brass in Pocket.” The recording shot to number one in the UK and slid into the number ten spot on Billboard’s Top 200. The album became a certified platinum in 1982. 

The band’s second release, Pretenders II, received similar accolades and contained the hit “Talk of the Town.” After founding members, James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon both died of drug abuse, and with the only remaining original member, Martin Chambers on drums, Hynde bounced back from the tragedy with Learning to Crawl in 1984. Subsequent albums experienced positive reviews as Hynde and Chambers hosted new lineups. In 1996, the Pretenders were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Pretenders will unveil a box set on February 16th. Unlike the band’s previous box set, Pirate Radio, which contained 84 tracks, The Pretenders –1979 to 1999, digs deeper into the vaults, giving you all the albums between ’79 and ’99. The discs will come reissued in digipaks including, The Pretenders, The Pretenders II, Learning to Crawl, Get Close, Packed!, The Last of the Independents, The Isle of View and ¡Viva El Amor!. You also get b-sides, demos, live tracks and rarities.

You can recycle your copy of the debut as The Pretenders features the b-sides “Swinging London,” “Cuban Slide,” “Precious” (live), “Nervous but Shy,” “Kid” (extended mix), and two versions of “Porcelain.” The second disc contains demos recorded between 1977 and 1978, including two rare tracks, “Tequila” and “I Can’t Control Myself,” as well as “Kid,” “Brass in Pocket,” “The Phone Call,” “The Wait,” “Precious,” and “Stop Your Sobbing.” Live material is abundant as you get rare tracks such as “Sabre Dance” and “I Can’t Control Myself.”

The first DVD contains promo videos from their first album, including “Kid,” “Stop Your Sobbing,” and “Brass in Pocket.” The videos promise to have enhanced graphics and better sound quality. The BBC appearances include two versions of “Kid,” three different performances of “Brass in Pocket,” and “Stop Your Sobbing.”

Pretenders II features five additional songs on a separate disc including a demo version of “Talk of the Town,” “I Go to Sleep,” “Pack it Up” (radio mix) and two rare tracks, “In The Sticks” and “What You Gonna Do About It.”  And as if that weren’t enough, the Pretenders offer up a full concert from 1981 in Santa Monica. The second DVD offers promo videos including, “Talk of the Town,” “Day After Day,” “I Go to Sleep” and “Message of Love.” More BBC appearances follow the band after the release of Pretenders II.  

Learning to Crawl has an extended play CD where Chrissie offers up additional tracks and some more live performances. Highlights from this disc include a live performance of the classic songs “Money,” “Time Avenger” and “My City Was Gone.” There are quite a bundle of demos on this disc such as “I Hurt You” and “Watching the Clothes.” The DVD includes promo videos of “Show Me,” “Middle of the Road,” “Back on the Chain Gang,” “2000 Miles” and “Thin Line Between Love and Hate.”

In addition to the 1986 Get Close disc, there is a bonus disc comprised of extended takes of the Hendrix classic “Room Full of Mirrors” and “Traditions of Love.” Besides the bonus materials, they offer up songs from soundtracks including, “Where Has Everybody Gone” and “If There Was a Man” from The Living Daylights. Videos include “Hymn to Her,” “My Baby” and “Don’t Get Me Wrong.”

On Packed!, the Pretenders give us more bonus tracks, “Not a Second Time” and “Spirit of Life,” plus promo videos of “Never Do That” and “Sense of Purpose,” and live versions of “Never Do That,” “Millionaires” and “Criminal.”

Last of the Independents gives us B-sides such as “Bold as Love,” “Angel of the Morning,” and soundtrack music, “I’m Not In Love” from Indecent Proposal and the Morrissey Classic, “Everyday is Like Sunday” from Boys on the Side. Videos include “I’ll Stand by You” and “Night in My Veins.” With seven BBC appearances, the Pretenders offer such live tracks as “Hollywood Perfume” and two versions of “977.”

Recorded live, The Isle of View found Chrissie and company unplugged as the band played acoustic. The record was praised by critics. On this version, listeners are treated to B-sides such as “Creep” and “Happy Christmas.”  The video covers the whole show from 1995. 

¡Viva El Amor! is the final disc from this incredible compilation and offers up some rare recordings.  B-sides and bonus tracks include, “Samurai,” “Human,” Neil Young’s “The Needle And The Damage is Done,” “Back Down” and “California.” Also included are songs from films including “Goin’ Back” from Fever Pitch and two songs from G.I Jane: “Goodbye” and “The Homecoming.” More BBC moments come by the way of “From the Heart,” “Kid” and “Talk of the Town.”

All in all, you’re getting 14 CDs and 8 DVDs. You can get an advanced copy by ordering it directly from the Pretenders’ store, and the first 500 pre-orders will have a personalized Brass in Pocket A3 Lyric poster. This offer will last until January 16th, so don’t delay.