Album Reviews

Social Distortion – Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes

Released By : Epitaph Records

Genre : Punk Rock, Blues Rock

Links : http://www.socialdistortion.com/


Tracklist:

1.Road Zombie

2.California (Hustle & Flow)

3.Gimme The Sweet & Lowdown

4.Diamond In The Rough

5.Machine Gun Blues

6.Bakersfield

7.Far Side Of Nowhere

8.Alone And Forsaken

9.Writing On The Wall

10.Can’t Take It With You

12.Still Alive


SOCIAL DISTORTION have always been something of an anomaly in the musical landscape, sure they are classed as one of the pioneers of punk music and still to this day hold much respect from the punk rock crowd of young and old. But, along the journey they have added so many other little elements into their style that the punk rock part of them is only a small slice of the pie.

Once again on their new album HARD TIMES AND NURSERY RHYMES there is plenty of different little elements and I have an easier time simply calling this a good rock album rather than a punk album. For one thing, frontman and undisputed genius Mike Ness sounds happier than ever and is obviously slowly winning the long battle against his years of drug problems. Not that different elements are a new thing for SOCIAL DISTORTION, they have been tinkering with the punk rock formula from day one and Ness’s varied musical influences have been well documented in the past, but never have they been quite as well interwoven into the formula than here. Sure there is still a punk rock feel to a lot of the songs, but there is also hints of soul, southern rock, blues and Ness’ weathered voice really adds a big singer/songwriter vibe.

As the instrumental intro ROAD ZOMBIE finally moves out of the way, the rest of the album begins to unfold in a spectacular fashion and keeps a very high quality throughout and actually choosing highlights is just like picking bugs from a gorilla, you could try all day and still be without result by the end. I have managed though to really find a few absolute gems, the first one being CALIFORNIA (HUSTLE AND FLOW), a real boogie blues tune that brings back memories of GEORGIA SATELLITES. DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH is classic SOCIAL DISTORTION and has a beat that will force your body to sway. Another great track is MACHINE GUN BLUES, which is one of the more punk-rock sounding tunes on the album and really has an awesome lyric. BAKERSFIELD is closer to some of the stuff Ness was doing around the time of his two solo albums and has a similar feeling at the start to the Hendrix classic LITTLE WING. FAR SIDE OF NOWHERE almost sounds like a R.E.M co-write and is once again a great performance from Ness. The album ends on a personal tune  from Ness in STILL ALIVE, which could either be taken as a good old up-yours to all the critics and bands that didn’t think they’d last, or also an introspective confession about surviving the torment Ness has caused to his own body and mind over the years.

While most long-time fans will probably disagree, for me personally this is the best record SOCIAL DISTORTION have ever released. Let’s face it, they could have just thrown out a disc with ten or twelve interchangeable punk rock songs like a lot of bands in the genre do, but instead there was obviously a lot of care taken in the variety aspect. I can see no reason why this album wouldn’t appeal to anybody that likes true rock music. Catchy beats, interesting lyrics and a singer that really sounds like he has lived what he sings about, what more could a rock fan want?

Written By ZeeZee

Rating : 9/10

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