While flipping through Wikipedia last Sunday, seeing what had gone down on That Day in History (just something I like to do from time to time, OK?), I discovered that it was the birthday of Mike Ness, the singer of the sorta rootsy, sorta punk rock band known as Social Distortion - the band that could perhaps be credited with getting the punks to listen to Johnny Cash. I was never a particularly avid follower of theirs, but I did tend to enjoy their early albums when I heard them. When they came through the city where I lived at the time in the mid-’90s and played a pretty small club (capacity maybe a couple hundred), I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see them in such an intimate venue, and I’m very glad I did. 15 or so years later, this show remains one of the sweatiest, most fun and intense performances I’ve ever witnessed.
For that reason alone, I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Ness and the crew, even if I’m not keeping up with their current doings (for instance, I just discovered that they released a new album this year, their seventh in over 30 [!] years of existence). Social Distortion, the band’s third album and first for major label Epic Records, seems to have met with a bit of a mixed reception from the KCMU gang, despite (or perhaps because of?) its generally positive reception by the public.
“Definitely limited by the ole ‘big label’ sound, but on the whole I didn’t mind this. Ranges from punk to rockabilly. Seems reasonable to put this in L. I dunno... someone else should listen to see if this is too mainstream.”
“I agree w/you, RZ. Sounds kinda generic to me...”
“Nothing wrong with this in L.”
“‘Ball + Chain’ is a great song!”
“Doesn’t have the raw edge of their previous albums. This could be because they had more money to spend on production, or because they want to sound this way. The musicianship is improved.”
“Why did this get moved up when no one really liked it?”
“Chris did & so did Paul (somewhat...). If ya don’t dig it, don’t play it & it’ll go away...”