The Pretenders

Break Up the Concrete (Shangri-La)

Phases & Stages

The Pretenders

Break Up the Concrete (Shangri-La)

This is a good time to ask veteran rock stars if they have any idea what they're doing. You know, musicians who haven't put out a truly inspired album's worth of music in decades. In this downloadable world, the emphasis away from long-form album to the power of the song leads to the question: Why not take the five really good tracks on Break Up the Concrete ("Boots of Chinese Plastic," "Love's a Mystery," "Rosalee," "One Thing Never Changed," "Don't Cut Your Hair") and offer a stellar EP for download? Nothing wrong with these 11 cuts; they're classic Pretenders slam dunk. Yet the biggest critique about Chrissie Hynde's perennial rock roadster is that it's so distinctive as to be repetitive in that Ramones way, whereas with most albums, gems nestle with filler. This isn't a crime, nor even more than a mild complaint, but rather provocation.


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