Thursday, 1 January 2009

1980 Pretenders: Brass In Pocket

Bleeding over from the new wave movement of the late 70's, Pretenders (no 'The') were the first band to actually hit number one in the 80's Pink Floyd's follow through into the new decade. Originally from Ohio, one woman hurricane Chrissie Hynde had been resident in the UK since 1973, and as if to reflect the Anglo-American influence of it's creator, 'Brass In Pocket' is a curious mix of American swagger and British pub rock with Hynde's cocksure vocal staying just ahead of the beat for the duration, almost taunting her very British (Hereford to be exact) backing band to keep up with her and the times.

Hynde was a scary prospect to the average, seventies raised rock fan like me whose only experience of a leathered up female front woman to date had been Suzi Quatro, and Suzi always knew exactly which cheek her tongue was in (
while wiggling her other cheeks in sprayed on jeans). Eye candy first and foremost, the bass guitar she played looked to be there for ornamental purposes only and she exuded no threat whatsoever in belting out whatever nonsense Chinn and Chapman put before her.* That's not to single out Suzi particularly, but she's a good a counterpoint as any to Hynde who was always deadly serious in what she did; there was nothing of the novelty about the girl from Ohio, she just happened to be a female leader of an otherwise all male band and if that was a novelty, then Hynde clearly didn't see it.

Hynde has reputedly always hated 'Brass in Pocket' and that's her prerogative, but her "I gonna make you see, there's nobody else here, no one like me. I'm special, so special" in her swaggering, confrontational manner made every word sound like she was picking a fight with anyone with front enough to disagree. Threatening maybe, but it
did more for the feminist cause of equality than a shelf full of Andrea Dworkin, moreso than a Patti Smith because she brought into our living rooms -into MY living room - at prime time, tea time and was harder to ignore. A good start to the decade then.

* Reading that back, I fear I'm doing Quatro an immense disservice and, for the record, I should say that in a better, less male dominated alternate rock reality, she's been fronting AC/DC since the day Bon Scott died.

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