By the time she was 14, Chrissie Hynde knew she had to get out of Akron, Ohio. Her perfect '50s American childhood upturned by a newly acquired taste for rock 'n' roll, motorbikes and the 'get down boys' seen at gigs in and around Cleveland - Mitch Ryder, the Jeff Beck Group, the Velvet Underground and David Bowie among the many.
Wrapped up in the Kent State University riots and getting dangerously involved in the local biker and drug scenes, she escaped - to Mexico, Canada, Paris and finally London, where she caught the embryonic punk scene just in time not only to witness it first-hand, but more importantly to seize the opportunity to form her own band, The Pretenders.
Iggy Pop, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Vivienne & Malcolm, Ray Davies...on every page household names mingle with small town heroes as we shift from bedroom to biker HQ; from squat to practice room; from pub gig to Top Of The Pops - the long and crooked path to stardom, and for The Pretenders, ultimately, tragedy.
That Chrissie Hynde is alive to tell the tale is, by her own admission, something of a miracle. Throughout she is brutally honest, wryly humorous, and always highly entertaining. She has written one of the most evocative and colourful music memoirs to be published in recent years.
Narrated by Rosanna Arquette.
©2015 Chrissie Hynde (P)2015 Random House AudioBooks
Wonderful slice of life from the late sixties( hippy era) early seventies( punk era) Chrissies style of writing is strong, poetic and melodic...and captures the realities of over excess, creativity and how perhaps the one depends on the other..or drives the other. Difficult to know for sure...this is a very real memoir! She says basically..."This is how it was"
As other reviewers have suggested, this book really needed a ruthless edit. As it is Reckless is a rambling, often self-indulgent account of Hynde's rise from Ohio dropout to new wave princess.
Way too much time is spent on the Ohio years. Every pill, spliff and line she ingests is documented in great detail. Alas there is only one thing more boring than reading about other people's drug taking and that is listening to them! Let's just say she's no Hunter S Thompson.
We don't really get to The Pretenders until the final 90 minutes of a 9 hour book and even that is hardly worth the wait. Rosanna Arquette was in a way a good choice of narrator but her voice did grate on me and it was annoying ho many British phrases she mispronounced.
I used to be a huge Chrissie Hynde fan back in the day but this actually made me dislike her! Strangely the most interesting thing about Reckless is the American take on London back on the day. She's also really brilliant on clothes and style. A pity the same can't be said about the way she writes about music.
The Bio is essentially in two parts: Chrissie's life from childhood up to the point she migrated to the U.K and then on to the Pretenders story. The book does cover an awful lot and Chrissie has certainly lived a notable life. I just feel that the booked would have benefited from a professional co-author to help her structure the story and temper the over flowery language (essentially the job of a bio is to describe the events that occurred). In the first part - her childhood through to departing U.S seems to be a fairly vague recollection - still very evocative of the time and the events, which are remarkable but the story doesn't reveal too much about her life and I don't feel Chrissie wanted to be very open as to why she was the person she was. I.e. really intelligent but unable to apply herself. The second part covered birth of the pretenders and the period covering the first two albums, is more exact but a bit underdone. A bit of a whistle stop. I assume that in general her memory of the past is somewhat clouded by the drugs.
Despite all this criticism it's still a very engaging story and worth the listen and by the way I think she is fantastic and her music.
In terms of the narration - I understand the choice of Rosanna Arquette, but was the director asleep? Too many mispronounced English words, words missed from sentences, and inexplicably at one pointed Rosanna starts laughing mid sentence. Not good enough for a professional actress. Oh and the beef - she obviously has loved men. Good for her!
The Pretenders were a band of my formative youth, at an age when i had no conception of the non-music side of rock and roll. I later heard stories of what was happening behind the scenes and when i saw this book i couldn't wait to hear the truth. It was eye-opening, frank and revealing, also shocking, terribly sad but educational. The only thing which spoiled it a bit for me was the narration, which lacked rhythm and feel for the text, often the pace and tone were out of sync with the flow of the story and placed inappropriate punctuation in the sentences. That said, this deficiency should not ruing enjoyment of the book, i still highly recommend
A snotty, arrogant turn on" read a early review of a typical Chrissie Hynde live performance fronting the Pretenders. Never a woman to compromise, Chrissie has always been known for her feminist world view not to mention her radical vegetarianism. But that persona, as this superb rock biography shows, is tempered by a touching vulnerability and a genuine wit. Despite a downbeat ending to this book - with the drug- linked deaths of both Pretenders bassist Pete Farndon and guitarist James Honeyman Scott - this book is fascinating stuff. Born in 1951 on Akron, Ohio, Chrissie takes us through a somewhat chaotic life prior to founding the Pretenders in the late 70s. An Iggy Pop obsessive, she was at Kent State University during the fatal riots of 1970. She lived in Canada, Mexico and Paris before falling in love with London. She has ingested a factory full of drugs and booze. She worked at Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood's shop in London in the mid 70s and later was at the heart of the punk scene, fronting fledgling early incarnations of both the Clash and the Damned. She nearly got hitched to Sid Vicious (but only to be allowed to stay in Britain) and former partner Ray Davies, but didn't marry either. This is a book full of history, tragedy, belly laughs and the author's acerbic but, in the end, likeable personality. While this book is raunchy and acutely honest, it is no kiss and tell celebrity shag-fest, and it's all the better for that. Read it even if you didn't like The Pretenders. It's hugely entertaining and very, very cool.
Rosanna Arquette spits out Chrissie's ripe prose with real venom, even if she does struggle occasionally with some of the English place names. Her reading is far from perfect, but it's very human, even laughing out loud during a funny bit at one point. If your idea of fun is hearing the star of Desperately Seeking Susan saying the word "bollocks", this is very much for you.
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