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Pop Music Review

Social Distortion Rocks On With Feeling

April 09, 1998|SANDY MASUO

Social Distortion is as relevant today as it was when it formed in Fullerton back in 1979--not so much because punk has become a respectable form of music, but because the quartet has always been committed to making great rock 'n' roll. Its music remains fresh and engaging thanks to consistently pithy songwriting, powerful playing and lots of genuine feeling, all of which was in evidence at the Roxy on Tuesday when Social Distortion played the first of three sold-out shows.

The set, which was recorded for a live album, featured selections spanning Social Distortion's career, including such gems as "Ball and Chain" and the group's amped-up take on the Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb." The musicians were in top form, especially drummer Chuck Biscuits, who knew just when to hammer home a melody or guitar solo with an emphatic roll or cymbal crash. The always charismatic Mike Ness unleashed meaty guitar work and belted out his weathered vocals without any of the empty posturing lesser performers use to compensate for lack of heart.

In the middle of the show, Ness shared some fond memories of the old days "when the world was not quite ready for punk." Times have changed and punk may be more prevalent, but there are still precious few bands who can do the genre justice as forcefully as Social Distortion.

* Social Distortion plays tonight at the Roxy, 9009 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 8 p.m. Sold out. (310) 278-9457. Also Friday at the Palace, 1735 N. Vine St., 7:30 p.m. Sold out. (213) 462-3000.

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