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Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes

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Audio CD, January 18, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes builds on singer Mike Ness twin footings, one in the haunted American landscapes of Hank Williams and the other in the raw swagger of Exile era Rolling Stones. While these twin pillars have always been behind Social Distortion s anthemic songs, on Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes they come roaring to the fore, in one of the hardest rocking, most soulful albums of Ness career. From opener California (Hustle and Flow), a song with enough attitude to redline a 40 Merc, to the dark rockin cover of Hank William s Alone and Forsaken, longtime fans will find the trademark punk roar they love. New fans, too, will be drawn to Ness maturing songwriting and vocals Ness produced Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes (his first time at the production helm) with an eye to his rock and roll legacy, and it s not hard to imagine fans of Springsteen or Petty rocking out to these timeless songs.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 18, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Epitaph
  • ASIN: B004DK49DW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,973 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 67 people found the following review helpful By DP on January 18, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
First off, let's get things straight-Mike Ness is going on 50 years old, his music has grown and matured with him. I'm sick of reading reviews that say they aren't "punk" anymore, or have "lost their edge". Social D, from 1988's "Prison Bound" on up, have been, and always will be a ROCK & ROLL band with very few peers. About half of these songs have been in and out of Social D's setlists for years now, so some may be turned off that this is not all "new" material, but for the rest of us, it's finally good to hear these songs layed down in the studio. I'll do a brief song-by-song rundown...

Road Zombie-I've seen this song played live multiple times, always as the opener, and for a good reason. It really gets you ready for what's in store. It's an instrumental track with a driving riff, and some great leads by Mike.

California(Hustle & Flow)-A classic rock & roll riff, background gospel singers, not the best lyrics Ness has ever written, but a good song overall.

Gimme the Sweet and Lowdown-Classic SD. Sounds like it could have been on Sex, Love, & Rock n' Roll.

Diamond in the Rough-Probably my personal favorite track on the album. Ness speaks from the heart. Brent and Johnny's background vocals in the chorus are beautiful and top-notch. One of Ness's finest vocal performances ever.

Machine Gun Blues-Pretty self-explanatory. A song with that badass of a title, could be nothing less than...well, badass.

Bakersfield-Another personal favorite. They have been playing this live for a few years. A beautiful song about being away from your girl, and hoping that things are ok when you return to her.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By D.M. Cross on January 18, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Like a lot of people, I've been a fan from the early days - since hearing 1945 on Rodney on the Roq so many years ago. And I've seen them 15-plus times live. But to be honest, this is the first album I've been slightly disappointed in.

The background singers, the piano and other flourishes would seem to make this a great Mike Ness solo album... or a Black Crowes album. Actually, that's not too far off. There certainly have been country and Western influences that have cropped up over the years, but this is the first time I've heard Southern influences. I've always considered them the quintessential southern California band, so the Southern thing is hard to square.

Now, all of this could be overlooked if they brought an A-game of songs, but sadly they haven't. There's usually been one kind of wink-wink-nudge-nudge song - Sick Boy, When She Begins, Nickels and Dimes - but there's too many here. More references to Bonnie and Clyde, classic cars, and all the stereotypical greaser thing is fine in small doses, but it just becomes tedious parody that makes it hard to take things seriously when it's overdone.

Far Side of Nowhere, Writing On the Wall, and Take Care of Yourself are easily the 3 weakest and worst songs SxDx have ever released. They not only lack the traditional SD sound, they really are generic, '90s alt rock lite, reminiscent of Gin Blossoms or something equally bland. It makes me cringe to think this album would be anyone's introduction to the band based on the weaker material.

Also, the production here smooths things over like never before. There is less energy, less aggression. I heard Ness say this album was one of guitar tones, but I much preferred the awesome range of tones displayed on White Light White Heat.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By John M. Helebrant on January 18, 2011
Format: Audio CD
I bought this album this morning as it was just released today. I've given it a good listen, and if I had to come up with one word to sum it all up, it'd be mature. These guys sound as if they're 100% in their element. It sounds as if they had a lot of fun making these songs. While not punk for the most part, they do convey a lot of energy in their own right. It's 25% rock, 25% country, 25% blues, 15% punk and 10% rockabilly.

The album comes in the newer cardboard packaging and contains a very cool fold-out poster with lyrics on the other side.

As mentioned by another reviewer, if you enjoy the solo efforts by Mike Ness or Social Distortion's Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell, you'll most certainly enjoy this album. Social Distortion has evolved through the years, but they've also gotten older. I've been a fan for over 20 years now and can say I'm moving right along with them. Alghough I still listen to a lot of punk, heavy metal, and alternative rock, I find this album to be very refreashing. I've never been a fan of country outside of greats like Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard, But in this case it works. It works because Social Distortion has effortlessly tied together their influences to bring us a very enjoyable album.

There aren't a lot of artists out there that can provide the same level of energy and compassion after playing for over three decades. However, Social Distortion has managed to capture and bottle that energy up, which makes for some fun listening. Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes may not be for everyone, but if you're like me and have aged (not so gracefully), and evolved musically from the early punk days of the 80s, do yourself a favor and pick this one up. You won't be disappointed.
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Topic From this Discussion
Ehh no.

Though sometimes categorized under Punk, Social Distortion really isn't a punk band. And their music is definitely not comparable to Bad Religion's.
Their style has actually been quite consistent I think, and though this album has shown the maturation of the band a bit (not necessarily a... Read More
Feb 15, 2011 by Chris D. |  See all 2 posts
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