Social Distortion frontman Mike Ness is a true survivor. In 26 years with his band, he's done plenty that would make a parent cringe -- gone to jail, struggled with addiction, been on both the winning and losing end of beatings, and branded himself with precedent-setting tattoo density -- but he's never embarrassed himself by making bad music. Punk historian Steven Blush aptly described Social D as "the Rolling Stones of hardcore." And while punks still model themselves on Sid Vicious, Ness's key influences are Johnny Cash and Wild Ones-era Marlon Brando.
The SoCal band's run hasn't been sensational or prolific -- the strong new Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll is only its sixth studio album, and its first since 1996 -- but Social D's vitality has a unique longevity; never disbanded, the group is the only A-list old-school act that's still alive and kicking. Ness's tumultuous personal life has translated to his music, making barroom anthems like "Ball and Chain" some of Generation X's finest de facto blues.
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