I hadn’t planned on it being Contributor Thursday, but it just worked out that way (and lucky for me, as I’m staring down the barrel of a 10 day work week. Fun!) First up, a request rather than a contribution. After posting ‘Brass in Pocket’ yesterday, I received a couple different requests for ‘Back on the Chain Gang’, for which I’m all too happy to comply. Brass in Pocket and Back on the Chain Gang were the first two songs I can recall hearing from the Pretenders (as I suspect was the case for a lot of Americans), and I was wildly surprised to get their earlier albums and find almost an entirely different sound going on. The Pretenders made their bones on American radio as a kind of proto 80’s Brit pop, but their album work was incredibly varied and much, much more rock and punk oriented.
Anyway, ‘Back on the Chain Gang’ was recorded after original members James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon had died in drug related deaths, and Chrissie Hynde recruited Big Country’s Tony Butler and Rockpile’s Billy Bremner to play with her and drummer Martin Chambers as (in her words) a caretaker line-up. It took me quite some time to realize this song was about the death of Farndon (who was Hynde’s ex-lover), and it made an already bleak song just that much bleaker. Though it’s one of those brilliant songs that can be wholly uplifting musically if you’re not paying attention to the lyrics. Enjoy.
As a bonus, ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’, ‘ Message of Love’, ‘Middle of the Road’, ‘My City is Gone’, and ‘Tattooed Love Boys’ are in the extended.