Social Distortion

Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes (Deluxe Edition)

by Noel Edge (January 2011)

In 5 Words or Less Further evolution of Social D
Value Paid $13 » Worth $12
Affiliation with KNEW GEN None
Explicit? "Sh*t" is used once on the entire album ("Can't Take It With You").
Genre and Mood Rock, with blues, folk and country influences and gospel overtones. I can see almost every song ending up on a movie soundtrack somewhere, just pick a tune and a scene should come to mind.
Notable Tracks "Can't Take It With You" (brilliant gospel backup vocals), "Machine Gun Blues", "Still Alive", "Far Side of Nowhere", "Road Zombie" and "California (Hustle and Flow)"...to begin with. 
Songwriting & Musicianship Social Distortion's songwriting has certainly evolved since "Mommy's Little Monster". Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of their early stuff, but Social D just keeps moving forward. The tunes are melodic, flow and hook you right away, whether they're upbeat or more laid back, due in part to their trademark harmonies. The lyrics tell tales of life, love (mostly love lost), survival and adventure ("Machine Gun Blues" will take you back to the "Dillinger" era). While I appreciate what Social D tried to do with "Down Here (With The Rest Of Us)" (the song I liked the least off the album "White Light White Heat White Trash"), the song falls short of its potential. It's been "countried" up, but it's missing a big country-rock drum sound and steel and/or slide guitar accents.

The musicianship is nothing extraordinary, but Social D is all about the songwriting and these tunes don't disappoint. Mike Ness has clearly established himself as one of the most recognizable vocalists over the last 30 years. He's been able to make that raspy, slightly nasal voice work well across different genres.
Production The album is pretty well-mixed. The guitars are raw and grindy, but not over produced. The bass needs some buzz or ring to it, as it's too muffled and gets lost in the mix at times. The snare, kick drum and toms sound decent, but the cymbals are "tinny". I'd really like to hear what Social D could do with the right (co-)producer.
What Else You Should Know What more can I say? I wish I could figure out why these guys aren't headlining massive outdoor summer rock festivals.

Contact Noel at noeledge@knewgeneration.com