Morrissey takes on The Pretenders’ 1982 classic “Back on the Chain Gang”
Morrissey – Low in High School is available @ iTunes.
by Walter Price
Just as it was looking as if Morrissey’s post-Smiths history would be overshadowed by his oft polarizing political and social stances, he strikes again with a dynamic and soul-stirring cover of The Pretenders’ “Back on the Chain Gang”. The 1982 hit was originally penned as a song about the Kinks’ Ray Davies and sadly became a tribute to the band’s guitarist James Honeyman-Scott, who died of a drug overdose. Morrissey’s version has much of the sentimental weight as the original with the added Moz energy à la 1988’s “Suedehead”. It’s a brilliant reminder of the powers of this post-punk icon. A proper compliment to a longtime friendship.
Speaking via email to Rolling Stone Morrissey said this about the track choice and his friendship with Chrissie Hynde, “I think the original can safely be counted as a pop classic, and as always with the Pretenders, of the brain as well as the loins, Chrissie is always ready to do something before anyone expects it, and for me, that’s a well-developed artist.
“Chrissie is one of my longest and enduring friendships, I don’t have many. She sang on my 1991 U.K. single ‘My Love Life,’ and also on a track on my Swords album called ‘Shame Is the Name.’ Chrissie is the funniest person in the world, yet she has absolutely no sense of humor. We have been in many absurd situations – all her fault, of course. I know she’d marry me tomorrow, but she’s already had 11 husbands and she’s always being spotted digging in the garden at midnight.”
“Back on the Chain Gang” will be available as a single with “I Didn’t Know What to Do” (Gilbert O’Sullivan) on 23 November and the double-vinyl reissue of his Low in High School, 7 December.
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