Sunday, May 31, 2015

"Back on the Chain Gang" by The Pretenders

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1274
Date:  12/11/1982
Debut:  88
Peak:  5
Weeks:  24
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The Pretenders self-titled debut album was a major success reaching the Top 10 and spawning the #14 single "Brass in Pocket." It turned into a classic over the years and it has been included on many "best albums" lists. Their second album wasn't quite as well received, but it would be a gold-level success. Soon after, the quartet ran into issues. Leader Chrissie Hynde fired bassist Pete Farndon for his drug use. Then two days after that, lead guitarist James Honeyman-Scott died from heart failure due to cocaine use. (Sadly, 9 months later Farndon died of an overdose as well.) The remaining two members regrouped with two other musicians and recorded this song, which Hynde dedicated to Honeyman-Scott. It would become their biggest hit in the US hitting #5 pop while also reaching #4 at Mainstream Rock.

ReduxReview:  Another slice of brilliance from Ms. Hynde & Co. I liked this one right from the start, but it took some time for me to really fall in love with the song. By the time it appeared on their "Learning to Crawl" album in '84, I was all about it. With its warm chords, great melody, and nice sentiment, the song easily ranks among their best.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Hynde was in a relationship with Ray Davies (The Kinks) and pregnant with their child during the making of this song. Initially she intended this song to be about Davies, but after the death of Honeyman-Scott she changed it into a memorial song for him.


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