Get Close
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
After the breathtaking rise from adversity that was Learning to Crawl, Chrissie Hynde did an abrupt 180. She decided she wanted to grow beyond what she saw as a preconceived "Pretenders" sound and experiment with the formula. Unfortunately, she violated an old rule about not fixing what ain't broke, and the result was "Get Close."

There is nothing dreadful about this album, but it essentially is a Chrissie solo adventure. Two of the "Pretenders" in the credits, bassist TM Stevens and drummer Blair Cunningham, barely appear here. Session cats fill most of the slots other than Chrissie and "Crawl" holdover Robbie McIntosh, and the lack of a band chemistry is obvious throughout. The songs are staid sounding, something nothing on those first three albums would ever have been accused of. Just as a 'for instance,' think of the explosive entrance "Middle Of The Road" made on "Learning to Crawl," then compare it to the MOR sounding "My Baby" here. When the band does pack a punch on "How Much Did You Get For Your Soul," the song's anger at Michael Jackson lessens the urgency. It seems more petty than need be.

However, the songs are still uniformly decent. There is even a bonafide Pretender's classic with "Don't Get Me Wrong," reprised here as a live bonus cut. The three covers also are standouts, with Carlos Alomar's "Light of the Moon" a lost single. The other cover, a stunning version of Jimi Hendrix' "Room Full Of Mirrors" highlights what is most likely what made this album so low on its impact. This was the one song salvaged from early sessions with Steve Lillywhite, and the production actually has the kick Jimmy Iovine and Bob Clearmountain seemed to suck dry from the rest of the album. (The live version of "Thumbelina" also shows up the studio tracks' lack of wattage.)

The other bonus tracks are worthy additions. The original take of "Dance" is rawer and benefits for it. "Hold a Candle to This" is a strong early version of what would eventually appear on the under-rated Packed!. The final two live cuts are valuable in showing just how great Chrissie was in front of a crowd. (They are not as invaluable as the live concert included on the re-issued Pretenders II, however.) Not as vibrant as those early CD's and a bit too middle of the road to really stick, "Get Closer" needed a bit more wildness and a little less stability. It is a good album that was preceded by three greats, and suffers accordingly in perception.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
"Learning to Crawl" found The Pretenders coming back with a terrific, powerful album that equaled their debut. The follow up "Get Close" is more polished with a nice pop sheen but is inconsistent with great songs standing beside ordinary songs or material that should have been a B-side to a single. Producers Jimmy Iovine and Bob Clearmountain were aiming for a more funky feel with the band's fourth album. They achieved that aim but sacrificed much of what made The Pretenders great in the first place in the process. It's still an appealing album but the rhythm section which includes drummer Blair Cunningham just can't take the place of skin basher Martin Chambers (who appears on only one track--one of the best--the Hendrix cover "Roomful of Mirrors").

The album opens with a pair of great mid-tempo ballads "My Baby" has the infectious melody that has become a hallmark of Hynde's best work. "When I Change My Life" is a reflect ballad that more than holds its own with some of Hynde's best work. The filler starts with the third track Carlos Alomar's "Light of the Moon" sounds like second rate Hynde and is arranged (without a dose of irony I'm sure)like a Simple Minds cast off tune. "Dance!" has a nice funky groove and a witty lyric. It's probably the best example of what Iovine and Clearmountain were after and comes closest to integrating the funk element into The Pretenders sound.

Much of the rest of the album has filler but there are occasional gems that crop up. The arrangements aren't quite as tough as previous Pretenders albums but they do highlight Hynde's oft praised melodic sense. Guitarist (the only hold over from the previous edition of the band that appears on the entire album)Robbie McIntosh plays some scortching solos that breathes much needed life into some of the songs.

The bonus tracks are a mixed bag. The alternate version of "Hold a Candle to This" is good (the song would eventually show up on "Packed!")while the remix of "Tradition of Love" isn't substanially better than the original. "Dance!(Take One)" is a rough and ready version of the same song and I find it superior to the final version. It works better without the overproduction of Iovine and Clearmountain and is just as funky. "Worlds Within Worlds" is a song that was dropped from the running order featuring Chambers and bassist Malcolm Foster. It was part of the earlier rejected sessions produced by Steve Lilywhite and is tougher than much of the rest of the album. It would have worked well as part of the original album.

We get two live tracks with the new line up of Hynde, McIntoch, Cunningham and Stevens. "Don't Get Me Wrong" and "Thumbelina" are from an Austin, Texas appearence. The former sounds tougher than the album version. The latter from "Learning to Crawl" proves that this edition of the band could rock live pretty convincingly. It's a pity that we don't have a full disc of these performances (a flaw with the "Learning to Crawl" album as well which only features two tracks from the US Festival appearence).

While this album isn't quite as essential as the first three albums, it does have some terrific material mixed that suffers from the production sheen of Iovine and Clearmountain. "Packed!"(probably the weakest Pretenders album ever relying primarily on studio players and former Rockpile member Billy Bremmer to give life to Hynde's songs)would follow then there would be a long silence from The Pretenders. After that, Hynde would form a new line up with Adam Seymour and returning member Martin Chambers that would capture the spirit of the original band).
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2003
This is the first Pretenders album that is clearly a Chrissie Hynde album rather than a group effort. It even shows on the cover, the first where she's alone on the front with the band on the back, even showing the hierarchy - the lone musician kept on from the Learning to Crawl sessions gets the biggest picture. Somewhere in the tradition between blue-eyed soul and white rappers, Chrissie tries to get funky, and pulls it off with mixed results. Except for the fact that she doesn't stick to a single musical style for the entire CD, this is a bit like the series of Neil Young albums where he tries playing with various genres for fun - it might be interesting to hear him try to be a soul man, but in the end that's not his strength, and you want to hear Harvest or one of the CD's with Crazy Horse.
My Baby is a nicely done soft love song not out of step with some of her earlier material. When I Change My Life is another gentle love song that's not as well-written. Light of the Moon is a poor attempt at funk with a musically dated sound. Dance! is an embarrassing attempt at a dance/protest song. There is some great material here, however. Tradition of Love is gorgeous in both melody and in the faux middle eastern singing style. Don't Get Me Wrong was the radio hit, a remarkably well-crafted pop song - Pretenders Lite. I heard enough of it in 1986 to last nearly a lifetime, but there's no denying it's a minor Chrissie classic. I Remember You is musically dated, has weak lyrics and I find the use of the synthesizer annoying, but this love song has a pretty melody. How Much Did You Get For Your Soul is bad in so many ways. Mind you, I'd be happy hearing Chrissie sing Sesame Street, but while some protest songs are timeless, this one is just old. A Sun City protest is a historical novelty now, and the funk doesn't work. Nor does hearing Chrissie Hynde chanting "who's got soul? super soul!"
Chill Factor, on the other hand, is a strikingly beautiful song in which Chrissie captures the 60's style soul sound perfectly. She gets it just right here - Otis Redding couldn't have done it better. Hymn to Her is a gorgeous song too, an anthem, and a great Chrissie Hynde song (if not a great Pretenders song). Room Full of Mirrors is a mediocre Hendrix cover. The Pretenders pulled it off extremely well live - next to Precious, it was the highlight of the set I heard on the Get Close tour - but the version here doesn't do the song justice.
Overall, this experiment with horns and synthesizers and funky bass isnt awful, and if you're in just the right mood, you may enjoy it. I do every few years, though I usually prefer the more typical Pretenders sound. I'm a bit surprised to read from a reviewer here that this is Chrissie's favorite album - perhaps that's the case, and she just gives the people what they want in concert, but I've never heard her cover more than a song or two from this album live. (To be fair, I haven't heard her in concert in several years). Even the Get Close tour, as I remember it, mostly featured material from Pretenders and Learning to Crawl. (Which would be smarter purchases than this CD if you don't have them). If you're a Pretenders collector and lack this album, you'll probably enjoy some of it. But, as others have written, be prepared to dislike some of it as well.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2001
Get Close is one of those albums you put away for a while but keep coming back to. It's not the best Chrissy Hynde has released, but it's just ... average. The Pretenders are always evolving with different members coming aboard all the time. My favorite cuts are For Your Soul and the gorgeous Chill Factor. There is no doubt in my mind that Chrissy Hynde has one of the best voices in the music industry. Get Close showcases
a funky side that was missing in a lot of their earler (and better) releases. Not the best the Pretenders have put out, but not a bad release either. If you want to get funky some day, play Get Close !
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2002
I get the distinct impression that 'Get Close' tries to be two albums at once. On one hand are the wistful love songs stamped all over with that distinctive Pretenders sound. On the other hand the album tries to explore funk territory, which leads one to believe that Chrissie should stick to what she knows best.
HYMN TO HER is a classic, pure and simple, in my opinion the best track thatChrissie has ever written. Lyrically and musically beautiful. TRADITION OF LOVE is a rousing euphoric rocker, and amazes me why this was never a single. MY BABY, WHEN I CHANGE MY LIFE and DONT GET ME WRONG all gorgeous Pretenders by numbers, altho the latter gets a little too close to being bubblegum, incredibly infectious though. I REMEMBER YOU flirts with reggae and is pleasant enough, altho the three 'funk' tracks, LIGHT OF THE MOON, DANCE and HOW MUCH DID YOU GET FOR YOUR SOUL leave much to be desired. 'How Much' is redeemed by witty bitchy lyrics, but 'Dance' is just plain awful. And altho ROOM FULL OF MIRRORS is okay, I get very uneasy when Jimmi Hendrex is covered. He puts magic into his songs no-one else can so covers will also sound, well inferior.
Be prepared to do alot of skipping on this album, there will be something you hate. Patchy musically and probably the weakest Pretenders albumlyrically (most of the tracks are basically glorified love songs)the good tracks more than redeem the situation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 1998
Thank goodness for programmable CD players. Some of the songs on this album among the best that Chrissie Hynde has ever done: "My Baby," "Hymn To Her," "Don't Get Me Wrong," for example.
On the other hand, to get to those gems, you'll have to put up with weak stuff like "Dance!," "How Much Did You Get For Your Soul?," "I Remember You," and the misguided cover of Hendrix's "Room Full Of Mirrors." Not only does that Hendrix tune sound completely out of place next to the rest of the songs, it proves once again why Hendrix tunes are so hard to cover effectively: Hendrix's mastery of the electric guitar just can't be duplicated.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 1999
From 1986, "Get Close" is one of the Pretender's most uneven album. Highlighted by sensational cuts such as "Don't Get Me Wrong," "Hymn to Her," "My Baby," "Chill Factor" and "When I Change My Life" rank with their best. Unfortunately "Dance," "How Much Did You Get For Your Soul" "Room Full Of Mirrors" etc. are little more than uninspired filler.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2007
Just as when I bought this disc back in 1987 I've enjoyed and listened to for a couple weeks and now it's back on the shelf. We were all just getting used to a new set of Pretenders with "Learning to Crawl" when she sprung a brand Pretenders on us, plus the songs were weak.
Rick
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2012
The - product - rocks da' haus!

"Room Full of Mirrors is a mediocre Hendrix cover," says one of the reviewers. Uh, really...?!

Maybe the dude doesn't like rock & roll, doesn't play guitars, didn't have it turned-up loud enough; or is just kind of wuss'd out.

I'm saying, purchase this product; if just for that cut alone.

I mean, what do you want to do, listen to Hannah Montana...Carrie Clarkson...Kelly Underwood?

No, you won't find this stuff on American Idol; it would scare the 12-year-olds away.

Remember, you must turn-it-up; then, rock out!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2006
The version of jimi Hendrix's Room full of mirrors is simply fantastic. I once saw them perform it live and really this is worth the price of the album alone. the rest is good but maybe not up to par to the first albums but still very good. It is otherwise more pop-oriented.
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