Social Distortion, GREATEST HITS

Social Distortion has been making punk music since the late 1970s, so a collection of music off their various albums was inevitable. Greatest Hits collects several of their songs, providing a nice introduction to the band for new fans -- and a few problems for longtime fans.

Led by lead vocalist Mike Ness -- the only member of the band from its start to the present -- Greatest Hits shows raucous energy from start to finish. Ness' voice growls through every song, supported by loud electric guitars and smashing drums. This punk sound is melded, quite well, with more introspective songs, as the band tackles living each day like it's one's last ("Reach for the Sky") and the mistakes of one's youth ("Story of My Life") and admitting errors. ("I Was Wrong.") And the band does an amazingly energetic cover of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire."

However, a greatest hits collection should offer something more than just the same songs on the albums -- and here Greatest Hits falls short. There are no live tracks, only one new song ("Far Behind"), no lyrics, and only 11 songs for a band that's been around over 20 years! This album isn't as much a greatest songs collection as an introduction to the band. The songs here are great, and anyone interested in the band will find this a good place to start, but Greatest Hits by Social Distortion should have had included a lot more.

Overall grade: B
Reviewed by James Lynch

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