The singer clapped his hands and softly bounced from side to side while nailing Chrissie Hynde’s signature “oh-oh” vocals. His backing band – all wearing T-shirts that read “Living Bodies That Actually Move” – stayed faithful to the original track, recreating the biting guitar leads, splashy drums and climactic key change.
The former Smiths frontman recently recorded his version of “Back on the Chain Gang” for an upcoming double-vinyl reissue of his Low in High School album, out December 7th. He will also release the track as a 45, out November 23rd, featuring a version of Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “I Didn’t Know What to Do” on the flip side.
Speaking to Rolling Stone, Morrissey dubbed the original track a “pop classic, and as always with the Pretenders, of the brain as well as the loins.” He also called the cover a tribute to Hynde, one of his closest companions.
“Chrissie is one of my longest and enduring friendships,” he said. “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.”