Even though she's responsible for some of the most durable -- and universally appealing -- rock songs of the past couple of decades, Pretenders guiding light Chrissie Hynde
has never really gotten her due. That should change with the release of this exhaustive box set, which adds a generous selection of demos, oddities, and cover material to the band's litany of hits. And those rarities aren't just for completists: Hynde's ear for a great song transcends genre, allowing the band to tuck into Morrissey's "Every Day Is Like Sunday" and Jimi Hendrix's "Bold as Love" with equal aplomb. With her sultry, immediately recognizable voice, she puts her own stamp on versions of Neil Young's "Needle and the Damage Done" and Radiohead's "Creep." The radio staples -- "Brass in Pocket" and the like -- still resonate strongly, perhaps even more so alongside the demos that document their evolution. Note the extra-rough early version of "Precious," on which Hynde's incendiary delivery practically leaps from the speakers in a shower of sparks. The handful of previously unreleased tracks will please diehards the most (with the exception of the poignant "Worlds Within Worlds" and the honky-tonkin' "Tequila"), but the live cuts (eight in all) are sure to grab anyone within listening range and impart a good shake. The set is rounded out by a DVD featuring material that spans the years 1979 to 1995 -- highlighted by early performances on the BBC's Top of the Pops
and a stellar appearance at the 2003 Montreux Jazz Festival. Pirate Radio
's signal comes in loud and clear throughout.