Rolling Stone (7/8-22, p.147) - 3 Stars (out of 5) - "...VIVE EL AMOR! is professional in the best sense: confident, mature, buffed to a sparkle..."
Q (6/99, p.106) - Excellent - "...it's all so sharp, from the writing to the production, to those unexpected vocal twists and insinuating little guitar riffs..."
Melody Maker (6/12/99, p.35) - 4 stars (out of 5) - "...more attitude than a billion surly shop assistants....sure pisses over Blondie."
The Pretenders: Chrissie Hynde (vocals, guitar, harmonica); Adam Seymour (guitar, keyboards, bass, background vocals); Tom Kelly (bass, background vocals); Martin Chambers (drums).
Additional personnel: Jeff Beck (guitar); The Duke Quartet (strings); Stephen Hague (accordion, keyboards); Chuck Norman (keyboards, programming); Lindsay Edwards (keyboards); Andy Hobson (bass); Andy Duncan (percussion, programming); Preston Hayman (percussion); Jules Shear, David Johansen (background vocals).
Engineers include: Julie Gardner, Richard Norris, David Boucher.
Recorded at The Townhouse Studio, Sarm West Studio, Rak Studio & Innovation Studios, London, England; Bearsville Sound Studio, Bearsville, New York.
Personnel: Louisa Fuller, Richard Coster (violin); John Metcalfe (viola); Ivan McCready (cello); Matt Smyth, Dave Reilly (tapes).
Recording information: Bearsville Sound Studio, Bearsville, NY; Innovation Studios, London; RAK Studio, London; The Townhouse Studio, London.
Photographer: Nicky J. Sims.
Following a five-year silence after 1994's LAST OF THE INDEPENDENTS, the Pretenders-- more accurately frontwoman Chrissie Hynde and drummer Martin Chambers--returned in 1999 with VIVA EL AMOR, a vigorous and rock-hard return of one of the greatest bands to ever stumble out of London's punk scene in the late '70s. Hynde, who married Columbian sculptor Lucho Brieva before recording the album, reflects a decidedly romantic bent with the album title ("Long Live Love"), languid, honeyed ballads like "From the Heart Down," and erotic, black-leather rockers like "Biker."
Formidable guitarist Adam Seymour plays stinging solos on tracks like "Baby's Breath" and Hynde's harrowing, Janis Joplin tribute "One More Time." Of all of the guitarists the Pretenders have used since their second album, he might come closest to the much-missed raucous elegance of the late James Honeyman-Scott. The ebullient, hook-happy "Human," which features singer/songwriter Jules Shear on backing vocals, isn't penned by Hynde but captures the joyous essence of her brilliant pop side. Other standout tracks include the "Precious"-reminiscent rocker "Legalize Me," featuring a guest solo from guitarist Jeff Beck, and the lyrically cynical, but sweet-sounding jangle of "Who's Who." The constructivist-style cover photograph was shot by Linda McCartney just weeks before she died.