Pretenders – Learning To Crawl (1984) – Lp
The Pretenders are an English-American rock band formed in Hereford, England, in March 1978. The original band consisted of initiator and main songwriter Chrissie Hynde James Honeyman-Scott, Pete Farndon and Martin Chambers. Following the drug-related deaths of Honeyman-Scott and Farndon, the band has experienced numerous subsequent personnel changes, with Hynde as the only consistent member, and Chambers returning after an absence of several years.
Title: Learning To Crawl
Label: WEA Records
Learning to Crawl is the Pretenders‘ third album, released in 1984, after a hiatus, during which time James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon died of drug overdoses.
After Farndon’s dismissal from the band and Honeyman-Scott’s death, Chrissie Hynde and Martin Chambers initially recruited Rockpile‘s Billy Bremner and Big Country‘s Tony Butler to fill in a caretaker line-up of the band in 1982. Bremner played guitar and Butler played bass on the band’s September 1982 single “Back on the Chain Gang/My City Was Gone”, both sides of which were later included on Learning to Crawl. As the album sessions got under way, Bremner, Graham Parker‘s bass player Andrew Bodnar, and Paul Carrack (formerly of Squeeze, Ace and Roxy Music) played guitar, bass and piano respectively for the track “Thin Line Between Love and Hate”.
Finally, Robbie McIntosh (guitar) and Malcolm Foster (bass) were recruited to join Hynde and Chambers, and the band was now officially a quartet. It was this line-up that recorded the rest of the tracks featured on Learning to Crawl.
The November 1983 single “2000 Miles/Fast or Slow (The Law’s the Law)” was the newly reconstituted foursome’s first release, followed shortly by the full Learning to Crawl album in January 1984.
The album’s title of “Learning to Crawl” was given in honor of Chrissie Hynde’s then-infant daughter, Natalie Rae Hynde. She was learning to crawl at the time that Chrissie was trying to determine a name for the album.
Hynde noted in the booklet for the expanded edition of “Learning to Crawl” that guitarist Robbie McIntosh came up with the opening guitar riff for “2000 Miles”. She stated that she probably should have credited McIntosh as co-writer of the song for providing the opening to the song.
“2000 Miles” became a popular Christmas song in the UK. Often interpreted as a tale of two lovers apart during the holidays, it is a song written by Hynde for her former bandmate James Honeyman-Scott after he died prior to beginning work on the band’s third album.
“My City Was Gone” is largely an autobiographical song written about the changes that she observed when she went back to her native city of Akron, Ohio. The song would later be adopted as the opening song to conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh‘s radio show. Hynde would unsuccessfully attempt to get an injunction against Limbaugh’s use of the song, as she is opposed to his politics.
“Watching the Clothes” was an older song written before the band’s début album. Hynde was inspired to write the song after a close friend had died.
1. Middle Of The Road (4:08)
2. Back On The Chain Gang (3:44)
3. Time The Avenger (4:47)
4. Watching The Clothes (2:48)
5. Show Me (4:00)
1. Thumbelina (3:12)
2. My City Was Gone (5:14)
3. Thin Line Between Love And Hate (3:33)
4. I Hurt You (4:27)
5. 2000 Miles (3:30)