Social Distortion - The Independent Years 1983-2004 album review

US punk rock heroes offer up a four-vinyl box of wonders

Cover art for Social Distortion THE INDEPENDENT YEARS 1983-2004

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Social Distortion are a punk rock institution, and this four-disc, vinyl box set is a perfect time capsule for both longtime fans newcomers alike.

Whilst 1983 debut album Mommy’s Little Monster is rightly regarded as a landmark moment in the history of blue-collar punk rock, its follow-up, Prison Bound, is arguably even better, with frontman Mike Ness’s honest, storytelling style putting him in league with Cash, Strummer, Springsteen and his other heroes.

Third disc Mainliner: Wreckage From The Past is interesting rather than inspiring. First released in 1995 but featuring early demo versions and b-sides from 1991, it’s certainly the weakest album here. 2004’s Sex, Love And Rock ’n’ Roll showcases an older, gruffer and less pacey SD. Still, such is the quality of the songwriting that the band actually benefit from a more measured approach. Hearing these songs in this format is massively beneficial too, the warmth of the beautiful, coloured discs are so evocative of a bygone era when punk rock really was about passion, sweat, three chords and the truth.

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.