Prison Bound

Prison Bound

Following the release of Social Distortion’s first album in 1983, group leader Mike Ness fell into a life of drug addiction and petty crime and lost his band in the process. Many observers assumed Social Distortion was gone for good, but after Ness quit drugs in 1985 he reconstituted the group and eventually reintroduced it to the world with 1988’s Prison Bound. Even as a young punk, Ness had seemed wise beyond his years. With some serious life experience under his belt, Prison Bound felt like his first grown-up statement. Ness didn’t reformat the band's sound; what he did was supplant the outdated punk codes that had previously ruled his life with a new set of codes taken from '50s rock 'n' roll and country music. The simplicity and directness of “It’s the Law,” “Like an Outlaw (For You),” “Backstreet Girl," and “On My Nerves” show a kinship not only with the protean rock music of the '50s but with other songwriters who'd drawn from that well, especially Bruce Springsteen. The title track is magnificent: a poignant cowboy song transformed into a biker’s anthem.

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