Über Social Distortion
Mike Ness and Social D. set themselves apart from the slew of Punk bands to emerge from L.A. during the early 1980s with the release of Mommy's Little Monster -- it's one of the best West Coast Punk albums ever, standing shoulder to shoulder with the Germs' (GI) and X's Los Angeles. Touching on teen alienation, self-destructive behavior and street life, and espousing a total repudiation of middle class America, this debut is one's of Punk's most articulate manifestos. Unfortunately, their future was jeopardized by frequent line-up changes and battles with substance abuse. The band languished until Ness, in a brilliant career move, spent some time in the pokey, got cleaned up and then re-formed the band to cash in on his newly acquired credibility as a convict rock 'n' roller. Prison Bound debuted a new Rockabilly-anchored sound for Social D. and revealed that Ness's lyrical preoccupations had turned from political angst to nihilistic outlaw laments. After this rather tentative return, the band put together two remarkably solid records, a self-titled LP (1990) and Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell (1991). No longer a Punk band in the least, these albums displayed a different sort of brilliance. Social Distortion had established themselves as spokespersons for modern day rebels without a cause. Their newer records are gritty, occasionally campy documents of America's obsession with outsiders -- good-natured, but ill-fated people who try desperately to outrun the mistakes of their past but always wind up inside the same vicious circle of crime and punishment.