When the Pretenders erupted on the scene, there was nothing quite like them. It was an American-British band - guitarist James Honeyman-Scott and bassist Pete Farndon were Brits while drummer Martin Chambers and Chrissie Hynde were the Americans. The sound was like nothing else. Their eponymously named debut Album is widely considered to be one of the finest debut albums ever and one of the finest albums ever made, period.
Much of that was due to the brilliance of Hynde. There had never been anyone quite like her and really still hasn’t been. Her combination of toughness, vulnerability, musical brilliance and a superb voice made the Pretenders instantly iconic.
And what made them an immediate sensation was their first huge hit and the accompanying video, Brass In Pocket.
Videos have faded in importance over the years, but in 1980, it was a huge part of any band’s publicity machine and this one really helped stamp the Pretenders as a major new presence.
In the video, Hyde plays a waitress and the rest of the band comes in with girlfriends. Hynde sings plaintively and assertively and demands to be heard:
Gonna make you, make you, make you notice/Gonna use my arm/Gonna use my legs/Gonna use my style/Gonna use my sidestep/Gonna use my fingers/Gonna use my, my, my, imagination/‘Cause I going make you see/There’s nobody else here, no one like me/I’m special/(Special)/So special/(Special)/I got have some of your attention, give it to me.
Well, she was special. And when the original band fell apart due to excessive drug use, she rebuilt it and climbed back to critical acclaim.
A lot of this video looks silly and dated, but not Hynde: she is magnetic and unforgettable. And now she has inspired decades of women to chase greatness as well.