What motivates someone to be in a rock and roll band so much that they are still doing it 25 years after the first chord is struck? Certainly an inclination to be “one louder” than my brother (he plays drums, very well it must be said) and definitely a desire to be attractive to the opposite sex (and possibly a few of the same sex too). But this isn’t a scientific thing; rock and roll is a primitive urge as much as it is anything quantifiable. More so, in fact, much more so.
I have a deeply formative memory that jumps to the very front of my mind. I’m the archetypal lost soul, wandering the utterly unromantic corridors of Harrow Weald Sixth Form College (it’s called something much more high-brow these days). Up on the first floor I pass the doors to the balcony of the assembly hall. Below there is a resident band playing who have clearly been granted permission to rehearse in that space. Said combo are named, somewhat unpromisingly, Jack The Biscuit and the Five Knuckle Shuffle (and this is 20 years before the Inbetweeners). But nevertheless my sleep-deprived and (frequently) confused adolescent brain is drawn to the crack in the doors to listen, and listen, and to love the idea of rock and roll music and the raw excitement it ferments inside me. And the song they were playing that moved my spirit so much…
…Back On The Chain Gang by The Pretenders. Thus begins a journey that takes me, musically speaking (and occasionally literally), all over the world. In pursuit of “that song” or “that riff” that makes my stone cold heart sing or my two left feet shuffle. That particular song will always hold an almost spiritual place in my musical memory. A small ray of light in a bleak epoch. Typically of me, I knew neither the original band nor the song and had to figure it out over time (no internet in those days). I was also convinced for a while that The Pretenders had covered it, as it felt like an older tune to me for some reason. Mind you it was released in 1982 and I recall hearing it first age 16 or 17 in 1985, practically an age later. A further year removed, in 1986, I played my first gig in a rock outfit – but more on that another time. The more I think about it, the more I can’t escape the thought - it was The Pretenders wot did it your honour.
For the record, my favourite song of theirs is Middle Of The Road which becomes more and more apt by the day.
Oh wait, I almost forgot. The entire reason for this post is that we’ve just recorded a Pretenders' cover for a friend’s birthday.
Happy Birthday Danielle.