Needless to say, while it doesn’t include the entire debut album, the first disc is stellar. Beginning with a demo of “Precious”, it methodically works through all the singles that built that album, with big points for including “Cuban Slide” and “Porcelain” on CD in the U.S. for the first time. “What You Gonna Do About It” is a live cover of a Small Faces tune, and before we know it, two of the guys are dead and Chrissie’s onto the third album.
Things start to slide about halfway through the second disc, right about when we get to the Get Close debacle. Here at least we get to hear an early version of “Tequila”, and more complete than the snippet on Last Of The Independents. A handful of leftovers from Get Close are of varying interest, as is the cover of “Windows Of The World” from an obscure soundtrack and a carbon copy cover of the Beatles’ “Not A Second Time”.
The third disc continues with more songs from Packed! before serving up most of Last Of The Independents and finishing up with selections from the Isle Of View, nicely including “Creep”. Other rare covers include “Bold As Love” for a Hendrix tribute and “Angel Of The Morning” for a companion album to Friends. A demo of “Every Mother’s Son” is quite effective.
The final disc is easily the most forgettable, for while it does sample the inoffensive ¡Viva El Amor!, it also covers Loose Screw. However, if you wanted to hear Chrissie take on “The Needle And The Damage Done” and “Everyday Is Like Sunday”, and didn’t want to buy the G.I. Jane soundtrack for “The Homecoming”, you’re in luck.
Before too long Rhino would expand the early albums, and include several of the extras in all the right places. There’s more good than bad on Pirate Radio, but more than anything it underscores what she lost early on, and while we can admire her determination to keep going, the set is only of value to completists.
Pretenders Pirate Radio 1979-2005 (2006)—3½