Morrissey has recorded a cover of the Pretenders’ 1982 classic “Back On The Chain Gang” for the upcoming deluxe edition of his 2017 album Low In High School. The double-vinyl release will also include live b-sides from the recording session and three previously unreleased tracks. “Back On The Chain Gang” will also be available next month as a 7-inch single with a cover of Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “I Didn’t Know What To Do” as the b-side; next year, Moz is reportedly releasing a covers album with producer Joe Chicarelli.
Morrissey has been playing “Back On The Chain Gang” live for a few years now. “I didn’t ever see the lyrics correctly printed because I wanted to sing them as I had always thought they were,” he tells Rolling Stone. “This is tricky with [Pretenders singer] Chrissie [Hynde] because sometimes she’ll sing into a misty wobble. So, I decided to wobble also … 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,” Morrissey adds. “I don’t have many. She sang on my 1991 UK 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.”
The cover comes along with a music video featuring Morrissey and his band performing on a retro ’60s Top Of The Pops-style music show. “That’s actually my living room,” he says. “I wanted people to see that I can play as well as Jeff Beck. I wanted them to, but they never will!” Watch and listen below.
The Low In High School deluxe edition is out 12/7.