With a distinct singing voice, truthful lyrics and shout-along choruses, Social Distortion has stood out from all of its punk rock peers for decades. As the band formed literally 40 years ago in 1978, and its last studio effort is 2011’s Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes, “Social D” is unarguably overdue for a collection of new songs.
While he has toured extensively over the years as a solo artist, Social Distortion frontman Mike Ness has only released two solo albums. Interestingly, both of those solo albums came out in 1999, Cheating At Solitaire and Under The Influences. Notably, Craft Recordings — acclaimed for recent reissues from George Harrison, Isaac Hayes, Sonny Rollins, and the Violent Femmes — has reissued both Solitaire and Influences this year on vinyl.
Under The Influences is almost entirely comprised of roots and country covers. Only one song is a Ness original, a honky-tonk version of the Social Distortion classic “Ball And Chain.” “I Fought The Law” is the most familiar of the songs on the album, as previously covered by the likes of The Clash and Roy Orbison. The majority of songs on Under The Influences you most likely had not heard before listening to, unless you were a major listener of roots and early country music. Even though almost all of the album’s songs are not the original compositions of Ness, it comes across as a very personal effort, as Ness states on the packaging that these songwriters not only influenced his songwriting but his “life in general.”
A “behind the scenes” look at Mike Ness.
Aside from the standard pressing of LPs, Under The Influences is also available in a limited-edition batch of 500 red-colored vinyl records. Altogether, it is nice to see a previously out-of-print title like this getting back into circulation within the vinyl format. Kudos to Craft Recordings and Mike Ness both for fighting the good fight, musically speaking.
Under The Influences Track Listing:
A1: All I Can Do Is Cry
A2: Gamblin’ Man
A3: Let The Jukebox Keep On Playing
A4: I Fought The Law
A5: Big Iron
A6: One More Time
A7: Six More Miles
B1: A Thief In The Night
B2: Once A Day
B3: Funnel Of Love
B4: House Of Gold
B5: Wildwood Flower
B6: Ball and Chain (Honky Tonk)
Run Time: 41 minutes
Release Date: April 6, 2018
Mike Ness talks about the influence of Johnny Cash to the Foo Fighters’ Chris Shiflett.