- 2 Chart performance
- 3 Music video
- 4 Covers
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The band's third single was their first big success, scoring number one on the UK Singles Chart for two weeks in January 1980 (making it the first new number-one single of the 1980s), number one in Australia during May 1980, and number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. The song takes its title from an expression Hynde heard from a member of Strangeways, a Yorkshire-based support band, who was looking for his money ("brass", meaning money).
During an interview with The Observer in 2004, Hynde revealed that she was initially reluctant to have the song released: "When we recorded the song I wasn't very happy with it and told my producer that he could release it over my dead body, but they eventually persuaded me."
The single's chart positions were not entirely achieved by genuine sales. An ITV World in Action documentary in the 1980s named "Brass in Pocket" amongst singles which had been 'hyped' by illicit tactics such as record companies employing people to buy copies in chart-return shops.
The lyrics describe the female singer about to have her first sexual encounter with a particular person, and is expressing her confidence that the experience will be successful. According to Rolling Stone magazine critic Ken Tucker, the song uses "an iron fist as a metaphor for [Hynde's] sexual clout." The Rolling Stone Album Guide critic J. D. Considine describes the song as "sassy" and credits the band for "putting bounce in each step" of it. Author Simon Reynolds similarly describes Hynde's vocal as "pure sass" and "a feline narcissism," noting particularly her "lingering languorously" over the words "I'm special." According to Allmusic critic Steve Huey, the backbeat "meshes very nicely with Hynde's unshakable confidence, and the song never gets aggressive enough to break its charming spell or make her self-assurance seem implausibly idealized." Huey also points out a harmonic shift in the music for the portion of the song where the singer lists the various attractive qualities she will use to make the encounter a success. Author Dave Thompson suggests that the song is actually about the Pretenders' first live concert rather than a sexual experience.
In the accompanying music video for the single, Hynde portrays a waitress working in a greasy spoon who encounters a sleepy customer. She suddenly sees three men (her band members) approaching in a car outside. Hynde attempts to look elegant upon their entrance and flirts with one of the men (Pete Farndon) after they have been seated. Pete does not respond to her overtures. Suddenly, three seductively dressed women (the men's girlfriends) enter the greasy spoon, sit at the men's table and begin to kiss their boyfriends. Farndon's girlfriend is not impressed when he appears to respond to Chrissie's flirting. Suddenly, the couples decide to leave the café without eating. Hynde is saddened and watches them outside leaving in their car.
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The song has been covered by artists including Nazareth, Suede (for NME's charity compilation Ruby Trax), Kelis (for the soundtrack to the 2005 film Just Like Heaven), Ashlee Simpson (during concert performances) and Ultra Naté.