Back on the chain gang was recorded after the sacking of bassist Pete Farndon for drug use, and the untimely death of guitarist James Honeyman-Scott, from a drug overdose at age 25. And while it was not the biggest hit for the Pretenders worldwide, after reaching number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 list, it was their biggest US hit.
The song was produced by Chris Thomas, and recorded at Air Studios in London using a Neve 8078 console, and recording was via a Studer A800 Mk III. AMS delays were used on the drums along with an MXR flanger, and an EMT 140 echo with tape delay.
During the tracking for the Learning To Crawl album itself a few other effects were in play, including an Eventide 949 Harmonizer for the guitar intro on 2000 miles, a song which seems to have endured more than others on the album and has become a staple at Christmas time.