Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Social Distortion: 1980 Demos

What hit me was that voice, that barbed-wire yet melodic voice of Mike Ness' that sounded snotty and world-weary all at once.

It was back in the early eighties when the Rodney on the Roq compilations of SoCal punk were warping my taste for all time, that I first heard Mike Ness' Social Distortion detonate the song "1945". When Ness growls those almost standard-issue punk lines, "Flying over Hiroshima, 1945/The city looks small from way up here/I wonder who'll survive", they stay stuck in your brain till you find yourself singing along to that voice.

Ness has never lost that voice, one not notable for its great range but rather for its serrated-edged passion that never gives a song quarter. And his voice as a song-writer voice has also never wavered, every new development seeming to just uncover something we always knew was there but hadn't quite cottoned onto. To mark his early growth, here's footage from the documentary Another State of Mind of the very young Mike Ness taking us through the writing of a deceptively simple song of longing.

Today's offering is also an early sketch, in this case some early demos that are actually pretty ferocious and more than an adequate introduction to that voice.

1980 demos link is in the comments

Speaking of comments, give us your initial reaction to hearing Social D

Support the damn band!



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  2. i think it was on the comp hell comes to your house- Lude Boy! I was hooked. My best story about Mike Ness was back in the mid 80's up at The Anthrax club in Conn. There was a party afterwards at some house and Ness got his face totally slapped by some chick he was looking to bag.
    Rock n Roll.

  3. CallPastorJerkfaceApril 27, 2010 at 10:50 AM

    It was the late 80's or early 90's when I first heard Social D.

    My listening habits at the time, as far as punk was concerned, centered around thrash/crossover cassettes ala the second Excel album, Corrosion Of Conformity's "Technocracy" or Agnostic Front's "Live At CBGB's".

    I knew about hardcore in it's undiluted form via what I could gleem from "Creem Presents Thrash Metal" and an amazing mix-tape a former Calgary 'core scenester had made for me.

    Social D. came to me through the TV(CityTV/MuchMusic's "The New Music" to be exact). I was amazed by the soft spoken yet heavily tattood presence of Mr. Ness but completely confused when I heard the first snatches of audio. The music came across like a Johnny Cash cover band using The Replacement's gear while the singer gargled out his lyrics inbetween shots of J.D.

    Unfortunatly, as appealing as all this now sounds to me, at the time it just wasn't my thing. The gritty guitars were a nice touch but over-all it came across as way to country for me.

    Funny? Funny.

  4. thanks for posting this! i was a huge fan of the original version of the band as a teenager in the 80's. saw them for the first time on the Mommy's Little Monster tour. good times... good memories....

  5. I first heard them during 1986. I was listening to a Dallas area radio station, KNON, and then I heard the opening air-raid siren to 1945. I was hooked! I remember it well because it was also the first time I heard the Descendants, Husker Du, and so many other bands I still enjoy today.

  6. I've been a Social Distortion fan every since I first heard Mommy's Little Monster way back in the early eighties. I just love how the band evolved over the years with their unique blend of punk and americana. Thanks for the demos, can't wait to hear 'em.

  7. I heard "Telling Them" on WMSE (Milwaukee) in about 1984. For some reason, I vividly remember fiddling with the dial to get the signal (I was in Racine, some 25 miles from the station) and having to jiggle the taped on volume knob to get things sounding right. They played lots of punk music on MSE, but "Telling Them" really made an impression. Still one of my favorite songs.

  8. Nazz
    Great story - I laughed.

    Y'see for me S.D. were the antidote to Anthrax et al that were so big at this time. It is funny how our early prejudices stick with us in so many ways.

    I so wish I'd seen the early band (they came thorough Winnipeg when I was about 12) - you're a lucky man.

    That was the same list of bands with whom I first heard Social D. - great stuff.

    Exactly, it's the way they evolved so gradually yet decisively over the years that keeps me following them.

    Nice little vignette from another time when fiddling with a radio knob was one of the only ways to find new music.

  9. Hell Comes To Your House. Didn't rate it much at first - what a twat!


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