Extended Play
[Sire MINI 3563]

Extended Play is the result of a situation that record companies love to find themselves in. The Pretenders first album was a certified smash. "Brass in Pocket" garnered heavy airplay. The band's tours drew rave reviews.

But the problem, a ticklish one. The first album is over a year old, no new product is due till at least June. How can they keep Chrissie and the boys in the public ear? What's a record company to do?

The answer, dear Watson, is elementary. Just take the band's latest British hit singles "Message of Love" and "Talk of the Town", combine them with the B-sides "Porcelain" and "Cuban Slide". Throw in a live track of "Precious", put a snazzy pair of photos on it, market it at a special price, and voila! A satisfied audience, and a record company with one less worry.

Under any circumstances, this collection is worth owning. Don't let the bargain price and sordid history fool you; this is anything but a throw-away. The band, as always, is hot and rocking. Because of the seductive Ms. Hynde, the musical virtues of the Pretenders are often overlooked, but this outfit can be as tight, as hard, as loud, as rocking as the best of them and must not be looked at as a chick singer fronting three guys. These are four musicians; the Pretenders are a band. Stress that - A BAND!

"Cuban Slide" is a perfect corporate showcase. Chrissie's lead and double tracked harmony vocals mesh perfectly with the Bo Diddley - Buddy Holly beat that's hard not to dance to. James Honeyman Scott's guitar smokes, and Martin Chambers' drums pound. Delicious. It's what you call your basic rock n' roll.

- Allen Rabinowitz