Get Close is the fourth album by rock group The Pretenders, released in 1986. The album contains the band’s two biggest Mainstream Rock Tracks chart hits, “Don’t Get Me Wrong” and “My Baby”, both of which reached #1.
Get Close was recorded during a particularly transitional period of the band’s career, featuring a variety of sessions and multiple personnel. The first of its recording sessions, produced by Steve Lillywhite, featured the Learning to Crawl lineup put together by Chrissie Hynde and Martin Chambers (following the deaths of fellow founding Pretenders James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon) which featured guitarist Robbie McIntosh and bass guitarist Malcolm Foster (plus the band’s touring keyboard player Rupert Black). This resulted in a cover version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Room Full of Mirrors”. Shortly after the session Hynde decided that Chambers’ playing had deteriorated. “Martin was playing crap. Martin just fucking lost it. And to think about it, why shouldn’t he have lost it? He’d just lost his two best friends. I was insane. I was traumatised. But you don’t know it at the time. I was trying to keep my shit together. To be honest Martin was playing crap and I knew musically I was losing my inspiration. But I’d tried too hard and come too far to let it all go, so Martin went instead.”
Having fired Chambers from the band, Hynde was left as the only remaining original member. With Foster’s departure shortly afterwards, this left the band without a rhythm section. With Jimmy Iovine and Bob Clearmountain taking over production duties, about half of the album was recorded by Hynde and McIntosh with high-profile session players. Bass guitar was provided by Bruce Thomas (of The Attractions), Chucho Merchán and John McKenzie, and drums by Simon Phillips, Steve Jordan and Mel Gaynor of Simple Minds, with assorted keyboards and synthesizers provided by Tommy Mandel, Patrick Seymour, Funkadelic’s Bernie Worrell, Bruce Brody (ex-Patti Smith Band) and Paul Wickens. Carlos Alomar made further contributions on percussion and synthesizer programming.
The later album sessions featured contributions from two further musicians – former James Brown bass guitarist T.M. Stevens and ex-Haircut One Hundred drummer Blair Cunningham. Towards the end of the sessions, Stevens and Cunningham were recruited into the band full-time. On release, Get Close was credited to a formal Pretenders lineup of Hynde, McIntosh, Stevens and Cunningham, despite the latter two members only having played on half of the album. All four musicians appeared on the album cover art, as had been the case with previous Pretenders albums. Unlike previous albums, however, this time Hynde was the only member pictured on the front cover, emphasizing her dominance of the band (as would be the case with all subsequent Pretenders album art).
In comparison to the New Wave stylings of the first three Pretenders albums, Get Close had a strong funk element (partially due to the substantial session contributions from American funk, soul and rhythm and blues players). The album also featured Pretenders’ first power ballad: “Hymn to Her”, a paean to femaleness written by Hynde’s former schoolfriend Meg Keene. The band also recorded a Carlos Alomar song, “Light of the Moon”.