Classic Track

Back On The Chain Gang

AMS DMX 15-80S Stereo Digital Delay
EMT 140 Plate Reverb
Eventide Model H949 Harmonizer®
MXR Model 126 Flanger/Doubler
Urei 1176 Limiting Amplifier
Pretenders Back On The Chain Gang
Recorded: July 20, 1982
Released: September 1982
Producer: Chris Thomas
Recording Engineer: Steve Churchyard

Back on the Chain Gang, a song by the Pretenders, holds a special place in the band’s history. It was recorded after the loss of two key members: bassist Pete Farndon was sacked due to drug use, and guitarist James Honeyman-Scott passed away from a drug overdose at a young age of 25. Despite these setbacks, the band soldiered on and created a hit that went on to become their biggest success in the US, reaching number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Chris Thomas produced the song, and it was recorded at Air Studios in London using a Neve 8078 console, which is widely considered to be one of the best mixing consoles ever made. The recording process involved the use of a Studer A800 Mk III tape recorder, which is also renowned for its high-quality recordings. The drums in the song were given added depth and texture with the use of AMS delays, while an MXR flanger and EMT 140 echo with tape delay were used to create a unique sound.

Interestingly, during the tracking for the entire Learning To Crawl album, a few other effects were used to create different sounds. For example, the guitar intro on the song 2000 Miles was created using an Eventide 949 Harmonizer, which helped give it a distinct sound that has stood the test of time. 2000 Miles has gone on to become a holiday classic, played frequently during the Christmas season.

Back on the Chain Gang is a testament to the Pretenders’ resilience and their ability to create a hit even during a difficult time in their history. It also showcases the importance of quality equipment and the use of innovative effects to create a unique sound that captures the attention of listeners.