Where does the time go? Thirty years ago a young punk with an anarchist attitude, with an old head on young, tough shoulders started a punk rock band. They released an epic debut record called Mommy’s Little Monster. But fame and success took its toll, as did the drugs and the law.
Once clean, sober and law abiding, the band continued on to forge a legacy most artists would dream of. That young punk is now today a icon in the scene. His name is Mike Ness, his band Social Distortion and on their sixth record Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes, Mike shows us again, why he is a great songwriter and story teller.
Mike Ness has taken over a void left when Joe Strummer passed away. He’s songs show a wealth of life experience of man who plays country influenced punk rock with that raspy, whiskey tarnished voice. Never a man to stick with conventions, the album opens with an instrumental track Road Warriors. The track sets up the rest of the album which displays that trademark Social Distortion sound. California has that rock n roll swagger reminiscent of Springsteen with Ness confessing his love for the West Coast of America.
Diamond In The Rough is a autobiographical account of Mike’s life referring himself as that diamond shining through once all the shit in his life left him. Machine Gun Blues is a ’20’s style gangster tale which has a modern day Green Day feel. Bakersfield is that classic “i miss you” heartfelt tune. Alone And Forsaken has that Johnny Cash inspired sound with a tale of seeking redemption. A theme that pops up all over Social Distortion albums.
For me the stand out track is Can’t Take It With You. A bouncy rock song complete with southern gospel choir backing vocals and straight to the point look at material possessions and what they are worth to you when you’re dead. “You’ll never see a hearse with roof racks” Mike sings in the first verse. The album ends with another autobiographical song with a positive look at his future and ends the disc with a kick of punk rock.
The wait has definitely worthwhile for Social D fans. The album is a solid and grows with repeated listens. Touring for Soundwave in their first trip to Australia in February, it would be a crime to not see this punk legend take to the stage.