Pirate Radio (Rhino)
The Pretenders' Pirate Radio is notable for how well it mirrors the band's history: Epic start, strong recovery from devastating setbacks, a long lull, then a nice accumulation after the charts stopped paying attention. Nearly all of the band's eponymous 1980 debut is here in some form, as well as the bulk of '81's Pretenders II, although boo for the omission of "Pack It Up." Still, disc one into the first half of disc two is absolutely relentless, making it hard not to wonder "What if ..." regarding James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon. Once into the Get Close, Packed!, Last of the Independents span ('86-'94), things thin out a bit. There are hits ("Don't Get Me Wrong," "Night in My Veins") and strong covers (Burt Bacharach's "Windows of the World," Hendrix's "Bold as Love," Warren Zevon's "Reconsider Me," Radiohead's "Creep"), but it's a disc-worth of material stretched across two. 1999's overlooked Viva El Amor! helps fill out disc four with waiting-to-be-noticed tracks like "Popstar" and "Biker." The DVD, for its part, is as good as the music from a historical interest standpoint. There's a plethora of material from the band before the deaths of Farndon and Honeyman-Scott, with standouts including "The Adultress" from Fridays and "The Wait" from Alright Now in December 1980. The latter is priceless for the band's live performance in contrast to the early Top of the Pops appearances where they're clearly lip-synching. There's also a great audience home video of "My City Was Gone" from Phoenix, circa 1994. As a total package liner notes, songs, DVD Pirate Radio is a fitting document to Hynde as her basic punk rock attitude of "I'll do whatever the fuck I want" is the 25-year constant that holds it all together.