Tuesday 3/23/21 12am ET: Feature LP: Pretenders – Learning To Crawl (1984)

Learning to Crawl is the third studio album by British-American rock band The Pretenders. It was released on January 11, 1984 after a hiatus during which band members James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon died of drug overdoses.

After Farndon’s dismissal from the band and Honeyman-Scott’s death, Chrissie Hynde and Martin Chambers initially recruited Rockpile’s Billy Bremner and Big Country’s Tony Butler to fill in a caretaker line-up of the band in 1982. Bremner played guitar and Butler played bass on the band’s September 1982 single “Back on the Chain Gang/My City Was Gone”, both sides of which were later included on Learning to Crawl. As the album sessions got under way, Bremner, Graham Parker’s bass player Andrew Bodnar, and Paul Carrack (formerly of Squeeze, Ace and Roxy Music) played guitar, bass and piano respectively for the track “Thin Line Between Love and Hate”.

Finally, Robbie McIntosh (guitar) and Malcolm Foster (bass) were recruited to join Hynde and Chambers, and the band was now officially a quartet. It was this line-up that recorded the rest of the tracks featured on Learning to Crawl.

The November 1983 single “2000 Miles/Fast or Slow (The Law’s the Law)” was the newly reconstituted foursome’s first release, followed shortly by the full Learning to Crawl album in January 1984.

The album’s title of “Learning to Crawl” was given in honor of Chrissie Hynde’s then-infant daughter, Natalie Rae Hynde. She was learning to crawl at the time that Chrissie was trying to determine a title for the album.

“Middle of the Road” – 4:08
“Back on the Chain Gang” – 3:44
“Time the Avenger” – 4:47
“Watching the Clothes” – 2:46
“Show Me” – 4:00
“Thumbelina” – 3:12
“My City Was Gone” – 5:14
“Thin Line Between Love and Hate” – 3:33
“I Hurt You” – 4:27
“2000 Miles” – 3:30

“Fast or Slow (The Law’s the Law)” – 3:15
“Tequila” – 3:35
“I Hurt You” – 4:06
“When I Change My Life” – 4:43
“Ramblin’ Rob” – 3:32
“My City Was Gone” (Live) – 4:53
“Money (That’s What I Want)” (Live at US Festival, May 1983) – 4:39

Chrissie Hynde – lead vocals (all but 11 & 15), rhythm guitar, harmonica
Robbie McIntosh – lead guitar, backing vocals
Malcolm Foster – bass guitar, backing vocals
Martin Chambers – drums, backing vocals, lead vocals (11), percussion

Billy Bremner – lead guitar on “Back on the Chain Gang” and “My City Was Gone”, rhythm guitar and vocals on “Thin Line Between Love and Hate”
Tony Butler – bass guitar on “Back on the Chain Gang” and “My City Was Gone”
Andrew Bodnar – bass guitar and vocals on “Thin Line Between Love and Hate”
Paul Carrack – piano and vocals on “Thin Line Between Love and Hate”