. . .
And then there’s “Porcelain,” maybe the weirdest track that the original incarnation of the Pretenders ever recorded. It’s basically a three-part song, each section distinct from the others, that somehow all fits together.
At first it comes roaring out of the gate, with James Honeyman-Scott stealing and inverting the riff from the Rolling Stones “The Last Time” over a whalloping Martin Chambers drumbeat that occasionally stops to gather breath, then takes off again. This goes on for such a long time that you kinda assume that “Porcelain” is an instrumental like “Space Invader” until it suddenly shifts directions, Chambers downshifting into an almost-reggae rhythm, all kick drum and rim hits, while Pete Farndon plays a hypnotically circular bass riff.
And eventually Chrissie Hynde drifts into consciousness, and she’s not necessarily in the best place.
Got myself off the corridor
I felt my knees on the tile floor
I rest my head on the porcelain
Cannot remember what I’ve just seen
Her voice is woozy and shaky, at best, floating in and out of audibility, and while Honeyman-Scott throws in quick, quiet solos, she continues, dazed and confused, only bits and pieces of phrases showing “cannot remember what I just said,” “cannot remember where he’s just been”, to the point where she’s just throwing out random syllables, until suddenly she snaps fully awake and barks.
My private world is coming
And after that a Martin Chambers drumroll launches the third part of “Porcelain,” a scorchingly wild James Honeyman-Scott guitar solo that eventually crashes itself and the rest of the song onto the cool, cool porcelain.
Like “Cuban Slide,” “Porcelain” was a great song that — as far as history goes — kinda ended up lost, especially after Pretenders II cannibalized Extended Play by reusing the two singles but not the b-sides. And the years wore on and Extended Play become more of a footnote — not even released on CD — it wasn’t until 2006 that either “Porcelain” or “Cuban Slide” got official digital releases, showing up as bonus tracks from the remastered rerelease of Pretenders.
“Porcelain” live 1980
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