Release Date: Oct 7, 2008
Record label: Shangri-La Music
Break Up the Concrete is the first Pretenders album since 1990s Packed! where Chrissie Hynde wrote almost every song on the album on her own, but unlike the generally listless Packed!, Break Up the Concrete is an effective rebirth for Hynde, a reconnection to her roots undoubtedly effected by her return to her native Ohio. This may be a stripped-down record carrying echoes of the Pretenders past, but this is hardly a conscious re-creation of the group's first two records, as it lacks any of the stylish guitar colorings of James Honeyman-Scott, and the group's early hard rock swagger has been swapped out for a frenetic rockabilly bop, as infectious on the barrel-headed boogie "Don't Cut Your Hair" and Bo Diddley romp of the title track as it is on the ingenious Dylan send-up "Boots of Chinese Plastic. " Hynde's revived rockabilly roll finds a comfortable pairing in the easy county-rock vibe of her ballads, of which there are far more of than there are rockers here.
Chrissie goes country on quickie album that deliversThe fact that this country-influenced album from Chrissie Hynde and her new backing band was recorded in just 10 days might lead you to think Break Up The Concrete was a rush job. (Consider this lyric from “Love’s a Mystery”: “You get the feeling you’re onstage and badly unrehearsed. ”) It’s true that the record is peppered with small flaws, like a cleared throat, or the drummer’s messed-up count-off or someone self-admonishing, “O.
Pretenders frontlady Chrissie Hynde is the only original band member on Break Up the Concrete, which features a backing group composed of well-traveled session guys such as drummer Jim Keltner. Fortunately, with her velvet-sandpaper vocals and unflappable rock-chick cool, Hynde is more than enough to build an album around. On scrappy rockabilly jams like ”Boots of Chinese Plastic,” she cuts loose with an effortlessness it takes years to cultivate, while the disc’s lovely closer, ”One Thing Never Changed,” suggests she’s got a future as a weehours balladeer if she wants it.
W ooh! It's Chrissie Hynde – resident in her native Ohio again and otherwise running a vegan restaurant – reinvestigating her roots with some rockabilly and a Dylan vibe. Plus a best-of CD for the wary..
This is a good time to ask veteran rock stars if they have any idea what they're doing. You know, musicians who haven't put out a truly inspired album's worth of music in decades. In this downloadable world, the emphasis away from long-form album to the power of the song leads to the question: Why not take the five really good tracks on Break Up the Concrete ("Boots of Chinese Plastic," "Love's a Mystery," "Rosalee," "One Thing Never Changed," "Don't Cut Your Hair") and offer a stellar EP for download? Nothing wrong with these 11 cuts; they're classic Pretenders slam dunk.