Pirate Radio

Pirate Radio

4.6 5
by Pretenders
Even though she's responsible for some of the most durable -- and universally appealing -- rock songs of the past couple of decades, Pretenders guiding light Chrissie Hynde has never really gotten her due. That should change with the release of this exhaustive box set, which adds a generous selection of demos, oddities, and cover


Even though she's responsible for some of the most durable -- and universally appealing -- rock songs of the past couple of decades, Pretenders guiding light Chrissie Hynde has never really gotten her due. That should change with the release of this exhaustive box set, which adds a generous selection of demos, oddities, and cover material to the band's litany of hits. And those rarities aren't just for completists: Hynde's ear for a great song transcends genre, allowing the band to tuck into Morrissey's "Every Day Is Like Sunday" and Jimi Hendrix's "Bold as Love" with equal aplomb. With her sultry, immediately recognizable voice, she puts her own stamp on versions of Neil Young's "Needle and the Damage Done" and Radiohead's "Creep." The radio staples -- "Brass in Pocket" and the like -- still resonate strongly, perhaps even more so alongside the demos that document their evolution. Note the extra-rough early version of "Precious," on which Hynde's incendiary delivery practically leaps from the speakers in a shower of sparks. The handful of previously unreleased tracks will please diehards the most (with the exception of the poignant "Worlds Within Worlds" and the honky-tonkin' "Tequila"), but the live cuts (eight in all) are sure to grab anyone within listening range and impart a good shake. The set is rounded out by a DVD featuring material that spans the years 1979 to 1995 -- highlighted by early performances on the BBC's Top of the Pops and a stellar appearance at the 2003 Montreux Jazz Festival. Pirate Radio's signal comes in loud and clear throughout.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
To say that Warner/Rhino/Sire's 2006 four-CD, one-DVD box set Pirate Radio is for the die-hard Pretenders fan may be stating the obvious -- after all, career-spanning multi-disc sets heavy on rarities are by definition for diehards. But die-hard Pretenders fans are different than other die-hard fans, since they can be easily split into two separate camps: those who followed Chrissie Hynde throughout her career, and those who lost interest somewhere after 1983's Learning to Crawl, the triumphant third album that proved Hynde was above all a survivor. After that, Pretenders records were notoriously hit-or-miss affairs, sometimes holding together a little better than others, but patchy enough to whittle down their audience to just the dedicated, while still indicating that a killer comp could be pieced together from these records. Is Pirate Radio that comp? No, not really. It has almost all of their charting singles and many of their best album tracks, but it's not a lean collection of nothing but the best from the Pretenders; it has too many rarities and treats each portion of their career too evenhandedly to be that. By the end of the first disc, Pirate Radio has already dipped into Learning to Crawl, and well over half the collection is devoted to music released from 1990 on -- an era that had two solid albums (1994's Last of the Independents and 2002's Loose Screw) and one strong one (1999's Viva el Amor), plus a popular if subdued live album (1995's Isle of View). This era was certainly good, but in no way matched the intensity of their first five years as a band, particularly in its first incarnation when Hynde was in a gang with guitarist James Honeyman-Scott, bassist Pete Farndon, and drummer Martin Chambers. The first disc bears this out through its rarities, where the original 1978 demo of "Precious" is nearly as tough as the one on the group's peerless debut, while the Nick Lowe-produced single version of "The Wait" has a reckless energy. Even songs that seemed like throwaways at the time have aged into mini-masterpieces: there are the two songs that had been stranded on the 1981 Extended Play EP -- the tense, dramatic "Porcelain" and the infectious "Cuban Slide" -- plus a dynamic take on the Small Faces' "What You Gonna Do About It." All three enhance the reputation of the original Pretenders while filling out corners in their history, something that can't quite be said about the deluge of rarities that follows over the next three discs. Not that the 13 previously unreleased cuts and six stray songs (mostly from B-sides and tribute singles) are bad by any means -- there are quite a few gems in this batch, particularly the terrific country tune "Tequila" (dating from the first days of the band, but cut during Learning to Crawl), the searching outtake "When I Change My Life," and a bunch of covers, including takes on the Beatles' "Not a Second Time," Warren Zevon's "Reconsider Me," Radiohead's "Creep," and Merrilee Rush's "Angel of the Morning." But as the box shifts into second gear halfway through the second disc, it stops being a set that holds appeal to both camps of Pretenders fans and becomes the province of those who have faithfully followed Hynde throughout her ups and down. For those fans, Pirate Radio is pretty much an unqualified delight. It rounds up the best of the uncollected songs, it presents an accurate and thorough history, it sounds terrific, it has great and comprehensive notes from Ben Edmonds (along with some track-by-track comments from Hynde), and the DVD is filled with thrilling television performances (eight of the 19 clips on the disc are from the original lineup, plus there are two from the Learning to Crawl group), which is alone worth the price of the set for the truly devoted. And ultimately that's who Pirate Radio is for -- for fans who love Hynde, warts and all. It's for the fans who believe that, despite (or perhaps because of) the peaks and valleys, she is indeed how Nick Lowe describes her: "she's still the same girl we were all in love with nearly 30 years ago...and Chrissie's still the coolest girl in the world." For those who agree with Basher, Pirate Radio is proof that their love has not been in vain.
Entertainment Weekly - Clark Collis
Hynde's seductively in-control voice... has remained, down the decades, as cool and unchanging as her haircut. (A-)

Product Details

Release Date:

Related Subjects


Disc 1

  1. Precious
  2. Stop Your Sobbing
  3. The Wait
  4. Kid
  5. Tattooed Love Boys
  6. Mystery Achievement
  7. Brass in Pocket
  8. Porcelain
  9. Talk of the Town
  10. Message of Love
  11. Cuban Slide
  12. What You Gonna Do About It
  13. The Adultress
  14. Bad Boys Get Spanked
  15. I Go to Sleep
  16. Day After Day
  17. Birds of Paradise
  18. The English Roses
  19. Time the Avenger
  20. Watching the Clothes
  21. Show Me

Disc 2

  1. Back on the Chain Gang
  2. Thumbelina
  3. Thin Line Between Love and Hate
  4. My City Was Gone
  5. Middle of the Road
  6. Tequila
  7. 2000 Miles
  8. When I Change My Life
  9. My Baby
  10. Worlds Within Worlds
  11. Don't Get Me Wrong
  12. Hymn to Her
  13. Tradition of Love
  14. Room Full of Mirrors
  15. Reconsider Me
  16. Hold a Candle to This
  17. Windows of the World
  18. Never Do That
  19. No Guarantee
  20. Not a Second Time

Disc 3

  1. Sense of Purpose
  2. Downtown (Akron)
  3. How Do I Miss You
  4. Bold as Love
  5. When Will I See You
  6. Hollywood Perfume
  7. Night in My Veins
  8. 977
  9. All My Dreams
  10. Angel of the Morning
  11. Money Talk
  12. Rebel Rock Me
  13. I'll Stand by You
  14. Every Mothers' Son
  15. Love Colours
  16. Private Life
  17. Lovers of Today
  18. Creep
  19. Criminal
  20. Revolution

Disc 4

  1. Everyday Is Like Sunday
  2. Human
  3. Popstar
  4. Back Down
  5. California
  6. The Needle and the Damage Done
  7. From the Heart Down
  8. Who's Who
  9. Biker
  10. Nails in the Road
  11. Legalize Me
  12. The Homecoming
  13. Up the Neck
  14. Fools Must Die
  15. Nothing Breaks Like a Heart
  16. Lie to Me
  17. Complex Person
  18. You Know Who Your Friends Are
  19. I Should Of
  20. The Losing

Disc 5

  1. Talk of the Town
  2. The Adultress
  3. The Wait
  4. Hollywood Perfume
  5. Brass in Pocket
  6. 977
  7. Never Do That
  8. Thumbelina
  9. 2000 Miles
  10. Night in My Veins
  11. My City Was Gone
  12. Tattooed Love Boys
  13. Middle of the Road
  14. Don't Get Me Wrong
  15. Criminal
  16. Room Full of Mirrors
  17. Louie, Louie
  18. Stop Your Sobbing
  19. Tattooed Love Boys/Up the Neck

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Pretenders   Primary Artist
Jeff Beck   Guitar,Soloist
Paul Carrack   Piano,Vocals,Background Vocals
Tim Finn   Background Vocals
Jules Shear   Background Vocals
Bernie Worrell   Synthesizer,Keyboards
Henry Lowther   Trumpet
Simon Phillips   Drums
David Paton   Bass
Lakshminarayana Shankar   Violin
Damon Albarn   Piano
Tchad Blake   Guitar
Andrew Bodnar   Bass,Vocals
Billy Bremner   Guitar,Rhythm Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals
Bruce Brody   Organ
Geoff Bryant   French Horn
Martin Chambers   Drums,Vocals,Background Vocals
Jim Copley   Drums
Blair Cunningham   Drums,Background Vocals
Andy Duncan   Percussion
James Eller   Bass
Pete Farndon   Bass,Bass Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals
Malcolm Foster   Bass,Bass Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals
Mitchell Froom   Keyboards
Mel Gaynor   Drums
Stuart Gordon   Violin,Viola
Stephen Hague   Keyboards
Mark Hart   Background Vocals
Andy Hobson   Bass,Bass Guitar
James Honeyman-Scott   Guitar,Keyboards,Vocals,Background Vocals
J.F.T. Hood   Drums
Chrissie Hynde   Guitar,Harmonica,Vocals,Background Vocals
Priscilla Jones   Background Vocals
Tom Kelly   Bass,Guitar,Piano,Background Vocals
London Community Gospel Choir   Choir, Chorus
Will MacGregor   Bass,Background Vocals
Robbie McIntosh   Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals
Johnny Marr   Guitar
Ivan McCready   Cello
John McKenzie   Bass,Background Vocals
Chris Mercer   Tenor Saxophone
Chucho Merchán   Bass
Dominic Miller   Bass,Guitar,Background Vocals
Andy Rourke   Bass
Adam Seymour   Guitar,Harmonium,Vocals,Background Vocals
T.M. Stevens   Bass,Bass Guitar
Bruce Thomas   Bass
Rupert Black   Keyboards
Gerry Mackleduff   Drums
Pretty Tony   Bass,Bass Guitar
Pat Seymour   Synthesizer,Keyboards
Jonathan Quarmby   Keyboards
Colin Elliot   Percussion
Tommy Mandel   Synthesizer
Mark Sheridan   Background Vocals
Duke Quartet   Strings
Steve Jordan   Drums
Chuck Norman   Keyboards
Jim Wilson   Trumpet
Kevin Bacon   Bass
John Metcalfe   Viola
James Hood   Drums
Mark Cooper Smith   Percussion
Lindsay Edwards   Keyboards
Rick Koster   Violin

Technical Credits

John Lennon   Composer
Paul McCartney   Composer
Neil Young   Composer
Burt Bacharach   Composer
Chip Taylor   Composer
Ray Davies   Composer
Tchad Blake   Engineer
Bernard Butler   Composer
Martin Chambers   Author
Steve Churchyard   Engineer
Bob Clearmountain   Producer
Hal David   Composer
Ben Edmonds   Essay
Pete Farndon   Composer
Mitchell Froom   Producer
Howard Gray   Engineer
Stephen Hague   Producer
Mike Hazelwood   Composer
Jimi Hendrix   Composer
James Honeyman-Scott   Composer
Chrissie Hynde   Composer,Author
Jimmy Iovine   Producer
Tom Kelly   Composer
Bruce Lampcov   Engineer
Steve Lillywhite   Producer
David Lord   String Arrangements
Nick Lowe   Producer,Author
Johnny Marr   Composer
Mark McEntee   Composer
Morrissey   Composer
David Nicholas   Engineer
Richard Norris   Engineer
Steve Nye   Engineer
Shelly Peiken   Composer
Brian Potter   Composer
Bill Price   Engineer
Ian Samwell   Composer
Adam Seymour   Composer,Author
Ian Stanley   Special Effects,Producer
Billy Steinberg   Composer
Stephen Street   Composer,Producer,Engineer
Warren Zevon   Composer
Colin Greenwood   Composer
Jonny Greenwood   Composer
Ed O'Brien   Composer
Phil Selway   Composer
Rachel Gutek   Art Direction
Jonathan Quarmby   Producer
Steve Woolard   Discographical Annotation
Brian Kehew   Engineer
Richard Poindexter   Composer
Robert Poindexter   Composer
Thom Yorke   Composer
Admiral S. Clay Wilson   Poster Illustration
Robert Matheu   Cover Photo
David Boucher   Engineer
Doug Wynne   Engineer
Steve "Syco Steve" Williams   Engineer
Kevin Bacon   Producer
Jackie Members   Composer
John Metcalfe   String Arrangements
Albert Hammond   Composer
Kieron Tyler   Annotation
Julie Gardner   Engineer
Chris E. Thomas   Producer

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Pirate Radio 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I give it four stars, as it has my three favorite tracks -- "Precious", "Bad Boys Get Spanked" and "Thumbelina". It doesn't get five stars because it left out a great song: "Fast Or Slow (The Law's The Law)", a Martin Chambers lead vocal, previously (and still) available only as the b-side to the "Show Me" single. That song deserves to be released on CD, and this was a great opportunity to do that.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have owned dozens of BOXSETS. This one is the finest by far. All the familiar songs in their original versions, with the perfect mix of alternate versions (ANGEL OF THE MORNING, HUMAN), LIVE TRACKS, AND DEEP CUTS. The DVD is just enough to see the group in action, and I regret I missed them and the WHO last night in concert. I believe this is a better investment than the single CD re-issues. Artwork and commentary rates 5+ Stars. Perfect packaging. One minor comment-I'd like to have I'M NOT IN LOVE from the Indecent proposal soundtrack included.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Pretenders have been one of the few mmmm.. maybe the only group from the "New Wave" era to come through to the 21rst century reputation intact. The mates may have changed but the captain of the ship has held fast to her rock n' roll core. "This aint no party, this aint no disco, this aint no foolin around." It's the rock lifestyle personified in Ms. Chrissie Hynde and Co. This collection rocks through the past 20+ years. It is an essential collection for any true rock fan.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I like how this set gives about an equal amount of attention to each period in the Pretenders' career. I agree though with the poster who said an opportunity was missed by not including "Fast Or Slow". Also would like to have had "In The Sticks" on CD. Anyway, some of my favourite songs are on here ("Sense of Purpose", "977", "My City Was Gone", "The Adultress"). Chrissie rocks.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago