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In the fractured musical landscape of 1980, it took the Pretenders to unite mainstream FM rockers, skinny-tie new wavers, and ripped T-shirt punks. Led by the tough and sexy -- but never masculine or overtly sexual -- Chrissie Hynde, the formula on their first three albums was as simple as it was effective. Hynde wrote great songs with a strong point of view, and the band, featuring the fresh guitar work of James Honeyman-Scott, played them with streamlined, propulsive vigor. When Honeyman-Scott became another pathetic drug casualty, they found a good replacement in Billy Bremner, and Learning To Crawl(1984) put them over the top. Hynde became rock royalty, universally recognized as a trailblazer for female rockers. Their subsequent releases rarely possess the same fire, but each has its fair share of good tunes, and the Pretenders remain one of the few bands around that are a real rock 'n' roll outfit instead of some niche marketing creation.
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