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June 3, 2023

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Social Distortion
White Light, White Heat, White Trash (550 Music/Epic Records)

By: Melanie Campbell

Many songwriters will tell you that they can't conjure up good imagery via words unless they are completely miserable. If this is true, than Social Distortion's Mike Ness must be having a real tough time these days, if the lyrical content to "White Light, White Heat, White Trash" is any indication. Witness the song topics-there's broken hearts and jagged lust ('Dear Lover', 'Pleasure Seeker', 'Crown of Thorns'): loss of loved ones ('When the Angels Sing', 'Down Here With the Rest of Us'), the ever-popular ailienation ('Don't Drag Me Down', 'Down on the World Again'), and, most notably, lots of self-realization ('Untitled', 'Through These Eyes', 'Gotta Know the Rules', and the first single from this release, 'I Was Wrong'). That last subject doesn't necessarily have to indicate misery, but it's always borne of that, isn't it?? Sharp edges, twisting knives in the gut, tears, and sadness abound-if you just read the lyric sheet without hearing the tunes, you'd probably be expecting goth dirges by now. Happily, though, the lyrics are a complete juxtaposition to the actual music contained therein. Musically, it's Social D...their trademark 3-chord edgy, down-n-dirty, smoking power chords. You didn't realize how much you missed them these last 5 years, did you? And, with the addition of Chuck Biscuits (ex DOA/Black Flag/Circle Jerks) on drums, the bands' sound should be crisper and more driven than ever. Note that even though Chuck is listed on the cd credits, according to a recent Epic press release, he didn't actually play on this disk. But by bringing him aboard, it looks as though Ness and Co. will probably be heading away from the darker rockabilly stuff from their earlier work, and back into the realm of rock-n-roll that brought us all Fear, Iggy, Johnny Thunders, and the Ramones. That, my freinds, is sorely lacking these days. AND (remember that you heard it here first, unless you've already plunked down yer 13 bucks for this little schlice of plastic) there IS an unlisted bonus track on this sucker-one of the world's best repression songs, a cover of the 'Stones 'Under My Thumb'---mmmm-mmmm, what a tasty surprise THAT was! Fits right in with all this gloom and doom. And you thought that the only musicians that could write ugly to a happy tune were in the Smiths. (Silly thought, that!) Maybe this release will win Social D. some new fans. Heaven knows, there seems to be enough broken-hearted, lusty, ailienated kids in need of some serious soul-searching running around these days. Perhaps they just found some new leaders. If that were to happen, though, just pray that Mike Ness has a better head on his shoulders than Kurt you-know-who....
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