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Social Distortion – Sex, Love, and Rock ‘n’ Roll

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Social Distortion–Mike Ness’ louder side–is eternal. The music that they make doesn’t necessarily evolve much; occasionally it’s faster and noisier, occasionally its slower and more melodic, but they always sound exactly like Social Distortion. I consider that a good thing.

After the eight years since their last studio album, fans might have worried that the new album might sound dated or that the chemistry just wouldn’t be the same. The worriers would have been wrong. Sex, Love, and Rock ‘n’ Roll is quite possibly my favorite Social D album.

Mike Ness, as a sort of blue collar punk poet, writes some of his best lyrics here and the music hasn’t lost an ounce of its catchy power in the intervening years. The album opens with a bang on “Reach for the Sky” and keeps the energy running through the entire album. Every song is a familiar friend–reminiscent of previous music but still fresh and compelling.

The only song that came as a letdown was “Faithless” and the closing “Angel’s Wings” left me feeling a little apathetic. The rest, though, stands as some of the best music that this band has ever made–an aggressive, mature new album that is sure to make the fans happy. The great thing about Mike Ness is that what you see is what you get.

The music is honest and straight ahead rock and the lyrics match up well. He never has that sly, cynical grin that you expect from someone like Green Day; Ness seems to be more of a true believer in the power of rock to make a difference. If not in politics, then in a more personal manner. He doesn’t sound overly impressed with himself and he doesn’t sound like someone with too much in the way of pretensions–he just sounds like a friend who happens to make great music.

For old Social Distortion and Mike Ness fans, this is a must. But all fans of rock music will likely find something here to make them smile and turn up the sound. It was worth the wait–but, if we’re lucky, we won’t have to wait quite so long next time. Now, I need to go listen to “Highway 101” and “Don’t Take Me for Granted” as loud as my cube-mates will let me…

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About Zombyboy

  • This review was chosen for Advance.net. You will be able to find it on newspaper sites including Cleveland.com.

  • I agree as to this CD being my favorite, I disagree with the song “Faithless” it’s top of my most played tunes on iTunes.

  • Hey, at least we agree on the most important part!

  • Kevin

    I am an old guy and this is simply the way rock’n roll was meant to be. I can’t stop playing this CD–I think I have damaged my hearing listening to “Don’t Take Me For Granted.” This and Green Day’s American Idiot prove the old punks (well, just a bit older in Green Day’s case) with the tight pants and big shoes are so much better at this than the new psuedo-punk bands that sound like the lead singer is 12.

    I really wish some radio stations would put this record in their rotation and let Social D make some money because this is a great record in a year with very few.

  • Eric Olsen

    I love Social D and wasn’t even aware tht this was out. Iwill pick it up post haste – thanks Z-boy and commenters.

  • A couple of the songs are getting airplay on the alternative rock stations around Austin, and they’re good songs. Maybe not as great as “Ball and Chain” or “King of Fools”, but better than most of the garbage that gets airplay these days.

    One thing the review fails to mention is that one thing holding up a new album was the death of guitarist Dennis Dannell back in 2000. I believe he was replaced with Johnny Wickersham. In addition, basist John Maurer left the band after the completion of this new CD, but he’s been replaced with the awesome Matt Freeman of Rancid, which is an upgrade IMO.

    BTW, if you’re an old guy like me and like Social Distortion and Green Day as the inheritors of the punk mantle, let me urge you to go check out Rancid and the Dropkick Murphys if you haven’t already.


  • the only social distortion record i have is white light, white heat, white trash (thats the proper title, right?) I love it, and keep meaning to pick up some other stuff.

    Incidentally, tongiht on Radio 1 in the uk at around 10 there seemed to be something of a green day special going on. It’ll be archived at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1 for a week or so. Just check what was on tonight around 10pm. It had loads of session tracks etc, great versions of stuck on you and 2000 light years away etc.

  • and dave, rancid are amazing, but i’ve never thought much of the dropkick murphies, outside of their collaboartion with shane macgowan, and their cover of Veangence by The Nips.

  • I mention the Murphys because they seem to be popular with other former punk-rockers my age who like groups like Social Distortion and Rancid. It may be the combination of Celtic music which is also very popular in our age group with Punk. If you liked the Pogues back in the day then the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly are today’s equivalent.


  • dave, thats what attracted me to the murphies, what with the pogues being my favourite band of all ever. I guess i like what they’re doing, just not how they do it, if you know what i mean. As to Flogging Molly, i like them a lot, actually, at least what i’ve heard.

  • I can’t even make fun of your tastes in music here. Social Distortion is legendary, even if their best days were over a decade ago, and Mike Ness writes some of the simplest, best rockabilly lyrics ever.

    If you’ve never heard of Rancid or Operation Ivy, go get “And Out Come the Wolves” and “Energy” to learn something about punk.

    Flogging Molly and the Murphys are OK, but just OK. I must say I don’t really get the Irish/Scottish-by-way-of-Boston blue-collar pub punk genre, but it seems to have been popular about 2-3 years ago. I wonder if the kids who listen to those bands are the younger brothers of the House of Pain-era Irish rapper devotees. There’s a band called the Real MacKenzies that’s funny because they have bagpipes in all their songs.

    That is all.

  • Shawna

    I saw social d live last night! This is a great album…an even better tour. If you haven’t seen them live you need to it’s an experience you will never forget. Incredible…ahhh I’m still reeling.

  • That’s the truth. They put on an excellent show. I saw them a few months back at the Fillmore here in Denver; great show.

  • rosie

    its a great album!! ive flew to the hootenanny in los angeles and also toronto just to see them. i just wish they would get thier arse up to scotland!!…thinking of starting my own soc d tribute band as lots people up here like them but cant see them