Formed in '78, Social Distortion is a punk godfather. Singer-guitarist Mike Ness' battles with alcohol and drug addiction kept the band from having more than an album to show for its first decade of existence, but what a record it is. Released in '83, Mommy's Little Monster is a brash, influential three-chord salvo epitomized by the opening track, "The Creeps (I Just Want to Give You)."
When Ness got clean in '87, he inaugurated a new era by moving Social Distortion away from hardcore and embracing a twangier, mid-tempo approach reminiscent of X. His cover of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" was a college-radio hit, but after the mediocre '96 album White Light, White Heat, White Trash, the band disappeared, replaced by a pair of country-flavored Ness solo discs in '99.
The next year, Ness' childhood friend, guitarist Dennis Danell, died unexpectedly. When Ness got over his grief, he reunited the band for a comeback tour, followed by the excellent high-energy punkfest Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll in 2004. With a new album coming next year, expect a couple new songs in the set.