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Rock Hall Anniversary: Pretenders’ Learning to Crawl

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Learning to Crawl, the third studio album from the Pretenders signaled a new phase within the band. Released in January 1984, and named after the daughter of frontwoman Chrissie Hynde, the album came after a two-year hiatus where two of the original members, guitarist James Honeyman-Scott and bassist Pete Farndon both died from drug overdoses.

When time came to record the album, Hynde recruited guitarist Robbie McIntosh and bassist Malcolm Foster to make up the quartet that included her and drummer Martin Chambers. The lineup would record the majority of the tracks including the opener “Middle of the Road”, “2000 Miles”, and “Time the Avenger”. Learning to Crawl would also include the previously released “Back on the Chain Gang” (the Pretenders’ first and only top five U.S. single), “My City Was Gone” (both songs featuring initial recruitments Billy Bremner on guitar, and Tony Butler on bass), and a cover of the Persuaders’ 1971 hit “Thin Line Between Love and Hate” (featuring Andrew Bodnar on bass, and Paul Carrack on piano).

Learning to Crawl became a critical success, noted for the Hynde’s tough but emotionally charged songwriting, something that had definitely carried over from the Pretenders first two albums. Also more importantly, the album would reached number five on the US charts, where it would sell over a million copies, further proving that the Pretenders has truly emerged from the dark period of 1982 and 1983.