Social Distortion is an American punk rock band from Fullerton California established in 1978. The band currently consists of Mike Ness (vocals, guitars), Jonny Wickersham (guitars), Brent Harding (bass) and Scott Reeder (drums). They are often credited as one of the leading bands of the 1980s hardcore punk explosion.
The group briefly disbanded in 1985, due to frontman Ness’ drug addiction, but reformed around 1986 and have continued being active today, even after the death of longtime guitarist Dennis Danell, who succumbed to a brain aneurysm in 2000. Since their inception the band lineup has been a virtual revolving-door of talent, with many members coming and going – Ness has been the only constant member.
I first heard Prison Bound in 1999. A guy I knew in the Marines, I THINK his name was Josh Riehl (Real? I can’t recall the spelling, let me know how to spell this right in the comments.), was sitting on his pack out in the desert, M-16 A2 service rifle in his lap at a hap-hazard angle, his head hung back and he was crooning the lyrics at the top of his lungs into the hot Mojave Desert Tuesday afternoon sky….
Ohhhh Im prison bound, I done the crime one too many times! It’s on the Outskirts of town, by the railroad tracks, where the country moon shines!
Riehl was like that. Just doing whatever the hell he felt like. In fact that is how he seemed to live his life, on his own terms. I can relate to that. Perhaps that has something to do with what came next. The lyrics stuck and, they have been doing laps in my head ever since. Riehl sitting on his pack screaming into the smoldering desert wind is what began what would be, according to some, a fairly serious love affair between myself and Social Distortion.
Ohhhh…Im prison bound tell my girl I’ll be back some day! Ohhhh Im prison bound I may never know, any other, any other waaaaaaay!”
Prison bound was actually a come back album for the band that was released in ’88, 5 years after their debut. Mike ness, the lead singer had gone into rehab for drug addiction.
A notable style change takes place in Prison Bound. While Mommy’s Little Monster falls under the general category of punk rock or hardcore punk, Prison Bound takes on a definite country/western flavor and marks the start of the band’s entrance into a style called “cowpunk.” Country legend Johnny Cash and The Rolling Stones’ honky tonk style became more prominent influences on Social Distortion’s music at this time. There are references to Cash and the Stones in the songs “Prison Bound” and “On My Nerves,” and they also cover a Stones song titled “Backstreet Girl,” which has a major key sound that foreshadows the more focused cowpunk sound of the later albums.
Social Distortion and Mike Ness the lead singer have better overall material than prison bound. However, there is something to be said about aesthetics and following a process and this album I think is a great first step. I recommend this before “Mommy’s little monster because I think Prison Bound is where the bands real original voice started to evolve and crawl out of the chrysalis of Ness’s rehabilitation time.
If you are gonna start listening to Social D, this is a good place to do it.