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Social Distortion

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Editors’ Notes

Social Distortion’s cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” signaled a crucial shift in the career of Orange County’s proudest sons. It wasn't simply a revved-up, tongue-in-cheek punk cover of a Nashville classic; it was a genuine and heartfelt reanimation of a timeless love song, passed from one outlaw to another. The self-titled album that accompanied “Ring of Fire” proved that Social Distortion had become much more than an O.C. punk band. It was the eager inheritor of a rock tradition that extended not only from Joe Strummer and Bruce Springsteen, but also from Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Hank Williams. Band leader Mike Ness would always carry himself as a graduate of the L.A. gutter-punk scene, and songs like “She’s a Knockout,” “A Place in My Heart," and “So Far Away” carried the torch for hardcore. But with this album, he started to identify more with the singing outlaws who'd preceded him, scarred but sensitive with their tall tales of lost love, jailbreaks, and train robberies. By superimposing the iconography of early American roots music on his Orange County punk ethos, Ness created two of the band’s most enduring songs: “Ball and Chain” and “Story of My Life.”

Customer Reviews

Freaking Awesome!

Social Distortion is a great band, this albums best songs have to be story of my life, ring of fire and ball and chain... I don't care what people call Social D., They fall under not rock or punk, but Freakin Awesome!

Classic Social Distortion

I purchased this CD back in 1990 while haze gray and underway, and I wore out the CD by my separation date a year later. I didn't know anything about the band at the time and made the purchase on a whim, and I have been a fan ever since. This is a must have classic.

Social distortion

I love it... Social Distortion is a great band .. enough said... :]]


Formed: 1978 in Fullerton, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The enduring L.A. punk band Social Distortion has overcome numerous personnel shifts, the demise of the Los Angeles hardcore scene that spawned them, and the heroin addiction of singer/guitarist/bandleader Mike Ness to achieve a measure mainstream acceptance for their rootsy, hard-hitting punk without compromise. Inspired by the fertile L.A. punk scene, Ness formed the group in 1978 with drummer Casey Royer and brothers Frank (bass) and Rikk Agnew (guitar). When the brothers left to join the Adolescents,...
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