After the major loss of two members, Pretenders front woman Chrissie Hynde solderied on, proving that the group still had a future. Learning To Crawl, recorded in the wake of the death of guitarist James Honeyman Scott and the firing (and subsequent death) of bassist Pete Farndon, featured tracks that have since been Pretenders classics and stapes of rock radio: fantastic rockers such as “Middle of the Road” and “Time the Avenger,” and pop tunes in “Show Me” and “2,000 Miles.” The best track here is naturally “Back on the Chain Gang,” which has endured since its recording 25 years ago (This reissue contains bonus tracks including live versions of “My City Was Gone” and an early version of “Tequila” that would be later recorded for 1994’s Last of the Independents).
Crawl was produced by Chris Thomas, and you can hear the difference in the production on the next record, Get Close, helmed by Jimmy Iovine and Bob Clearmountain. The result was something very polished. By that time, original drummer Martin Chambers left, and the band consisted of Hynde and a cast of session players. Still, Get Close is a decent effort with more strong songs including the chugging “Don’t Get Me Wrong,” “My Baby,” the hard rocking “Room Full of Mirrors” and the lovely “Hymn to Her.” Added to the reissue of Get Close are six bonus tracks including live performances of “Thumbelina” and “Don’t Get Me Wrong.”