Social Distortion (album)

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Social Distortion
Social Distortion - Social Distortion cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 27, 1990
RecordedAugust–October 1989 at Track Record in North Hollywood, California
GenrePunk rock
ProducerDave Jerden
Social Distortion chronology
Prison Bound
Social Distortion
Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell

Social Distortion is the eponymous third studio album by the American punk rock band Social Distortion, released on March 27, 1990 through Epic Records, their first recording on that label. The album furthered the rockabilly, blues and country music experimentation of their previous album with songs like "Drug Train" and the radio hit "Ball and Chain".

The focus on the alternative rock scene helped bring attention to Social Distortion. The singles "Story of My Life" and "Ball and Chain" were able to find an audience on alternative rock radio and on MTV. Social Distortion was one of the band's most successful albums to date, and their first to enter the Billboard 200; the release peaked at number 128.[1] The album has been certified gold by the RIAA in the United States.[2] By 1996, Social Distortion had sold at least 250,000 copies, becoming the band's second best-selling album in the United States (their next album Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell sold 296,000 copies).[3]

Background and production[edit]

After touring in support of its previous full-length studio album, Prison Bound, Social Distortion signed with Epic in 1989 and began work on its first album for a major label. The album's recording sessions took place from August to October 1989 at Track Record in North Hollywood, California. It was produced by Dave Jerden, who also produced their 1992 follow-up Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell.


The album's controversial cover features 3 pieces of ripped paper featuring 1920's style gangster on the first piece with a tommy gun trying to break a door with his right foot. The second piece features an empty liquor bottle held in a drunk woman's hand. The final piece features a pin up putting on thigh high stockings. The pictures are drawn all in blue on a gray background. Many chain stores refused to sell the album in their stores because of the cover.


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[4]
Christgau's Consumer Guide(1-star Honorable Mention)[5]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[6]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3.5/5 stars[7]

Reviews for Social Distortion have generally been favorable. AllMusic's Mark Deming awards the album four-and-a-half stars out of five and claimed that Social Distortion "began to metamorphasize from a rather ordinary L.A. hardcore band into a roots rock band willing to make with more than their share of the attitude, and this process continued on their self-titled third album." For the album's musical direction, Deming states "Mike Ness and Dennis Danell's guitars sound lean, sharp, and powerful; Ness's vocals are better controlled than ever before; and Christopher Reece's drums have a tight snap that suits both the thrashier numbers as well as the slower, blusier tunes." He also states that it Social Distortion is not a "great roots rock album, but it's a pretty good one, and it's better and more affecting than anything this band had cranked out before."[4]

Social Distortion entered the Billboard 200 album charts in September 1990, just six months after its release. It peaked at number 128 and remained on the chart for 22 weeks.[1] Thanks to the success of the singles "Let It Be Me", "Ball and Chain", "Story of My Life" and "Ring of Fire", Social Distortion became the band's best-selling album of their recording career, achieving gold sales certification in the United States.[2]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Mike Ness unless otherwise noted.

  1. "So Far Away" (Maurer, Ness) – 3:37
  2. "Let It Be Me" – 4:16
  3. "Story of My Life" – 5:48
  4. "Sick Boys" – 3:19
  5. "Ring of Fire" (June Carter Cash, Merle Kilgore) – 3:51
  6. "Ball and Chain" – 5:44
  7. "It Coulda Been Me" – 3:52
  8. "She's a Knockout" – 3:52
  9. "A Place in My Heart" – 3:15
  10. "Drug Train" – 3:42

Japanese Bonus Track Listing[edit]

  1. "It's All Over Now" (Bobby Womack, Shirley Womack) - 4:09
  2. "Shame on Me" - 2:11






Year Title Billboard chart Chart positions[8]
1990 "Ball and Chain" Modern Rock Tracks 13
1990 "Let It Be Me" Modern Rock Tracks 11
1990 "Ring of Fire" Modern Rock Tracks 25


  1. ^ a b "Social Distortion - Social Distortion". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
  2. ^ a b "RIAA Gold & Platinum Database". Retrieved 2012-08-03.
  3. ^ "Will the Flash of 'White Light' Burn Steadily?". 1996-10-02. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
  4. ^ a b Deming, Mark. "Social Distortion – Social Distortion". AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  5. ^ Christgau, Robert (2000). "Social Distortion: Social Distortion". Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-24560-2. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  6. ^ Browne, David (June 28, 1990). "Social Distortion: Social Distortion". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on November 30, 2007. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  7. ^ Considine, J. D. (2004). "Social Distortion". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 756–57. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  8. ^ Social Distortion singles charts

External links[edit]